Charles Francis, a local attorney and businessman, wants to be the next mayor of Raleigh.
Francis announced Thursday that he will run for the mayor’s seat in the October election, facing off against incumbent Nancy McFarlane.
“We need a Mayor who will focus on the real issues facing real people,” Francis said in a statement. “I will be an advocate for affordable housing, living wages for all City employees, increased economic mobility, a transit plan that is reliable and a commitment to innovation and service at City Hall.”
Francis, a Democrat, poses a unique challenge for McFarlane, who’s seeking her fourth term as mayor. Though she’s registered as unaffiliated, the Wake County Democratic Party has supported her for years as she fended off opponents – most of them Republicans.
McFarlane handily defeated her opponents in each election. She garnered 61 percent of the vote in 2011 against Republicans Billie Jean Redmond and Randall Williams, 72 percent in 2013 against Republican Bob Weltzin and Venita Peyton, an unaffiliated candidate, and 74 percent against Weltzin in 2015.
A native of Raleigh, Francis graduated from Sanderson High School. He attended Princeton University and earned a law degree from Duke University.
Francis is a former federal prosecutor and launched a private law practice, The Francis Law Firm, in 1994. He is a founding director of North State Bank.
Francis has a bit of experience in local politics: He was appointed to the Raleigh City Council in 1993. He said he has been active with civic groups and community affairs.
Francis criticized McFarlane in a statement.
“Our City Government is static,” he said. “The Mayor has allowed herself to be led around by staff and bureaucrats while too often the voices of our citizens aren’t heard, respected or understood.
“It is time to shake things up at City Hall by involving people from all parts of Raleigh. My campaign will offer Raleigh voters a choice to do better – Democratic leadership putting people first, fighting for our neighborhoods and working with our city’s business and entrepreneurial community for job growth and economic expansion that touches every corner of Raleigh.”
Francis and his wife of 26 years, Marvea, have three adult children.