Raleigh council member says mayor’s husband physically assaulted her

Raleigh Council member Kay Crowder speaks during a community event to unveil the Dix Park Master Plan on Feb. 6 at the Raleigh Convention Center.
Raleigh Council member Kay Crowder speaks during a community event to unveil the Dix Park Master Plan on Feb. 6 at the Raleigh Convention Center. ajohnson@newsobserver.com

Raleigh City Council member Kay Crowder says she was “verbally and physically assaulted” by Mayor Nancy McFarlane’s husband.

The altercation with Ron McFarlane took place at the Raleigh Convention Center on Feb. 6 during a community meeting unveiling the Dix Park Master Plan.

“The reports are true that I was verbally and physically assaulted,” Crowder said in an email. “I am still very shaken by the experience, and I prefer not to speak publicly about this at this time.”

Efforts to reach Ron McFarlane on Wednesday morning were unsuccessful, but the mayor responded in a statement.

“My husband, Ron, was understandably stressed that evening due to my surgery the previous day,” Nancy McFarlane said in the statement sent to The News & Observer. “He was upset that I was not recognized, as the rest of the council was, in the remarks given by Council Member Crowder at the Dix Park Community Meeting. He expressed to Council Member Crowder how upset he was in a way that I believe was too strongly worded. I’m sure that Council Member Crowder understands that he was tired and stressed that night.”

He reached out many times afterward to apologize, she said, adding that her husband and Crowder have known each other for 30 years

“I am sure they will be able to put this aside,” she said.

In an email Wednesday afternoon, Crowder said there were inaccuracies in McFarlane’s statement but wouldn’t state what they were without speaking to her attorney.

Crowder was the only elected official who spoke at the event. The mayor missed the event because of her surgery.

Crowder thanked council members present and City Manager Ruffin Hall, but not McFarlane. Dix Park Senior Planner Kate Pearce did thank McFarlane during her speech.

The altercation occurred after Crowder had left the stage, according to a witness.

Bob Edgerton said he went to greet Crowder after she spoke to talk about a crosswalk in the southwest part of town. He’s the chairman of the Southwest Citizen Advisory Council, one of several organizations that advise Raleigh leaders on city policy, projects and proposed development.

“First of all, I did not recognize the man,” Edgerton said Tuesday. “I did not know who he was. And I did see someone standing with Kay Crowder with a grip on her left shoulder shaking her rather violently and yelling at her. I was a little concerned about her safety, you know?”

The man was standing in front of Crowder, shouting in her ear, Edgerton said. He couldn’t hear the conversation, but “there was something rather difficult occurring,” he said. He approached Crowder to help her.

The man turned around and said “leave us alone” before eventually walking off, Edgerton said.

Edgerton said he told a Raleigh police officer about the incident and he said he believed that if the officer had seen the interaction, he would have stepped in.

Raleigh Police spokeswoman Laura Hourigan said there were no incident reports, arrest reports or 911 calls made on Feb. 6 at the Raleigh Convention Center Tuesday. A police spokesperson said Wednesday the department is trying to get more information about the incident.

Crowder was appointed to the council in 2014 and won re-election for the District D seat in 2015 and 2017. She and Nancy McFarlane have frequently been on opposite sides of issues within the past year.

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Anna Johnson covers Raleigh and Wake County for the News & Observer. She has previously covered city government, crime and business for newspapers across North Carolina and received many North Carolina Press Association awards, including first place for investigative reporting. She is a 2012 alumna of Elon University.
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