Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane was upbeat late last week as she offered a “state of the city” address at the Contemporary Art Museum in downtown Raleigh.
And no wonder. While many cities are struggling, Raleigh is booming, and not just in population or construction, but in spirit. And McFarlane, who’s just announced she’s seeking a fourth two-year term as mayor, can justifiably take credit for many of the great developments in the Capital City.
She’s also a realist, and her talk was substantial and serious in parts, not just a litany of all the forward strides the city has made during her tenure. That’s good, and that’s responsible.
The mayor, for example, met the affordable housing issue head on. That’s important because the city has a shortage of it, and is in midst of a building boom of expensive condos and apartments near downtown, which is a location of choice for younger residents in particular.
The mayor emphasized the council is working to “develop a plan to partner with local non-profits to build more affordable housing across the city.” And, homeless people will be helped: the Oak City Outreach Center, a central place to feed and provide showers and laundry facilities for those without homes, is going to move forward.
McFarlane also promised to continue conversations that have happened following a shooting involving a police officer in Raleigh, in which the council will work to open dialogue and improve race relations between law enforcement and the African-American community.
It would be easy, when things are going so well in so many ways in Raleigh — top rankings by magazines and business organizations, economic growth, flourishing arts — for McFarlane to try to downplay problems or potential problems, but instead she faced them.
But the “good stuff” ought to be recognized, from a transit development plan finally moving to the continuation of the International Bluegrass Music Association and other festivals such as Hopscotch — the mayor said in her speech “We do love a festival ...” — to, of course, Dix Park. When McFarlane is looking at her tenure as mayor sometime in the future, she’ll doubtless put the purchase of the Dorothea Dix Hospital property at the top of her list of accomplishments. Indeed, it was a masterful negotiation, and a life-changing accomplishment for the Capital City.