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Former Raleigh City Council member jumps into mayor’s race. That makes 3.

Raleigh City Council member Mary-Ann Baldwin talks during the Raleigh City Council regular session in the Council Chamber in the municipal building in Raleigh, N.C. in 2016.
Raleigh City Council member Mary-Ann Baldwin talks during the Raleigh City Council regular session in the Council Chamber in the municipal building in Raleigh, N.C. in 2016. ehyman@newsobserver.com

Former Raleigh City Council member Mary-Ann Baldwin is running for mayor.

Baldwin, 62, is the vice president of marketing for Holt Brothers Inc. and executive director of the Holt Brothers Foundation and served as one of two at-large council members for 10 years.

She’s the third announced candidate for the city’s top political post since Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane said she would not seek a fifth term. Raleigh attorney Charles Francis, whom McFarlane defeated two years ago, and former Wake County Commissioner Caroline Sullivan are also running.

Baldwin decided against running for a sixth term for her at-large seat in 2017 because she wanted to see new leaders “step up and lead.” She’s happy, she said, to see council member Nicole Stewart “has done just that.”

In her time away from the city board, she’s been a frequent critic of the current majority — and that’s part of what’s drawn her back in.

“It has been painful for me to watch what has happened since I left council,” she said in a news release. “The acrimony among members is indefensible and, quite frankly, decisions are being made that negatively impact our city’s future.”

The city has dragged its feet on issues such as backyard cottages, short-term rentals like Airbnb and scooter regulations, Baldwin said.

“These are simple things,” she said. “It should be an easy thing we should be able to get done. We spend money and years deliberating on things and end up making the wrong decision.”

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Raleigh mayor Nancy McFarlane, left, watches election returns while talking with four-term at large city counciler Mary Ann Baldwin, who did not seek reelection, Tuesday evening, Oct. 10, 2017 at Brewery Bhavana in downtown Raleigh. Travis Long tlong@newsobserver.com

Her platform will focus on affordable housing, transportation and mobility, innovation and entrepreneurship, homelessness and respect for city staff.

“Let’s be bold. Let’s embrace innovation and new ideas,” she said in the release. “Let’s be inclusive, not exclusive. And let’s think big about our future. After all, this election is not about today. It’s about what Raleigh will grow to become in the next 10 to 15 years. Will our children be able to afford to live here? Will congestion kill our quality of life? Will we embrace smart growth policies and density in appropriate areas of the city?”

Baldwin said she hopes the mayoral candidates this year will be respectful and not divisive like two years ago.

“I’m really calling on everybody to step up their game and run on the issues and not tear our city apart, but instead promote unity,” she said. “And that might be wishful thinking on my part, but I am OK with wishful thinking.”

Filing for the eight-person board opens in July, and the election is Oct. 8.

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