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Former candidate, activist Zainab Baloch running to be Raleigh’s next mayor

Zainab Baloch
Zainab Baloch

Activist and former Raleigh City Council candidate Zainab Baloch is the fourth candidate to announce she is running for mayor.

Baloch, 27, is a numbers operation specialist at Even, a financial services company, and received her master’s degree in public administration from UNC-Chapel Hill in December.

The Raleigh native began her work in activism and community engagement but turned to politics because elected officials often lack that experience, she said.

“I really believe our city can provide a platform for the future,” Baloch said. “We have communities that are not represented right now in our city government and a lack of representation is not only stopping us from addressing those community needs, but it also keeps us from having innovative ideas to really bring back solutions to our problems.”

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane announced in March she would not seek a fifth term. Former council member Mary-Ann Baldwin, former mayoral candidate and Raleigh attorney Charles Francis and former Wake County Commissioner Caroline Sullivan have all said they plan to run for mayor.

There has never been a non-white woman on the Raleigh City Council and there is only one person under age 40 on the council, said Baloch, a first-generation American whose parents immigrated from Pakistan.

Baloch ran for one of the council’s two at-large district seats in 2017, coming in fifth place. One of her campaign signs was vandalized with an anti-Muslim slur during that race.

If elected, Baloch said her priorities would be mobility, security and happiness.

“Raleigh can deliver a future that can provide its citizens job, food security and support for our families,” she said.

“We really need to build communities that offer opportunities to our [entire] city,” she said. “We know Raleigh has one of the worst upward mobility rates in the country. But I truly believe our city can be an equitable and sustainable city.”

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

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