Wake County

Who’s running for Raleigh City Council?

A festival was held at Dorothea Dix Park in July 2016. The 308-acre site near downtown Raleigh will likely become a talking point in this fall’s City Council elections.
A festival was held at Dorothea Dix Park in July 2016. The 308-acre site near downtown Raleigh will likely become a talking point in this fall’s City Council elections. hlynch@newsobserver.com

Twenty-four people are running for seats on the Raleigh City Council in the election this fall.

The filing period with the Wake County Board of Elections ended Friday, marking the start of the campaign season. Voters will choose a mayor and seven council members in the Oct. 10 election.

Affordable housing and growth will likely be hot-button issues, as rents and home prices continue to rise and developers continue to build.

Here’s a rundown of the candidates:

Mayor

▪ Incumbent Nancy McFarlane is seeking her fourth term as mayor. She is an unaffiliated voter.

McFarlane was first elected to represent District A in 2007 and served two terms before winning a bid for mayor six years ago. She lists one of her major accomplishments in office as securing the 308-acre Dorothea Dix property, which the city wants to turn into a destination park.

She previously co-founded and sold a specialty pharmacy company.

▪ Paul Fitts is a Republican who works in the mortgage industry. A native of Raleigh, he attended East Wake High School and UNC-Pembroke.

He previously ran in 2011 for an at-large seat on the Raleigh City Council.

▪ Charles Francis is a Democrat who works as a lawyer and businessman. He was a federal prosecutor before launching a private law practice, The Francis Law Firm, in 1995.

Also a native of Raleigh, Francis attended Sanderson High School, Princeton University and Duke University School of Law. He was appointed to serve on the Raleigh City Council in 1993.

At-large

Seven people filed for two at-large seats currently held by Mary-Ann Baldwin and Russ Stephenson.

Baldwin announced Friday she will not seek re-election.

▪ Stephenson, a Democrat, is Raleigh’s longest-serving council member and is seeking his sixth term. He was elected as an at-large member 12 years ago.

▪ Shelia Alamin-Khashoggi, formerly Shelia Jones, is a constructed response rater at Education Testing Services and the founder and president of the J.T. Locke Resource Center.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration and a master’s degree in religious studies from Shaw University and a master’s degree in public administration from N.C. Central University.

In 2010, Alamin-Khashoggi was one of four candidates in the running to fill a vacancy left in District C by James West, who was appointed to the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

▪ Rob Axtell, an unaffiliated voter, is a service manager at Drucker & Falk, a multifamily and commercial property management firm in Raleigh. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics and mechanical engineering from N.C. State University.

▪ Zainab Baloch, a Democrat, is a policy auditor with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. She previously worked for the City of Raleigh, supervising camp sites throughout the city.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from N.C. State University and is pursuing a master’s in public administration from UNC-Chapel Hill.

▪ Stacy Miller, an unaffiliated voter, was appointed to serve on the Raleigh City Council in 1997. A Raleigh native, Miller graduated from Broughton High School before attending Wake Forest University and Campbell Law School.

After working in the Wake County District Attorney’s Office, he opened his own law firm in Raleigh.

▪ Nicole Stewart, a Democrat, works as development director for the N.C. Conservation Network, a coalition of nearly 100 community and environmental groups statewide.

She earned a master’s degree in public administration from UNC-Chapel Hill.

▪ Robert E Ward IV, a Republican, is a real estate broker with HTR Commercial.

District A

The district spans north central Raleigh, from the Interstate 440 Beltline to Interstate 540.

▪ Incumbent Dickie Thompson, a Democrat, is seeking his second term. Thompson won the seat two years ago after a runoff election against Republican Eddie Woodhouse. He received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from N.C. State University and has worked for more than 38 years in his family’s general contracting company, J.M. Thompson Co.

▪ Alex Moore, a Republican, is a real-estate agent with Triangle Real Estate Group.

District B

The district spans much of northeast Raleigh.

▪ Incumbent David Cox beat John Odom in the 2015 election by about 260 votes. Now he’s seeking his second term.

An unaffiliated voter, Cox works as a computer scientist. He has a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Pennsylvania State University, a master’s in computer science from the Rochester Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in computer science from N.C. State University.

▪ John Odom, an unaffiliated voter, represented District B on the council for 16 years before losing to Cox.

Odom was first elected in 1993. He ran for mayor in 2003 against incumbent Charles Meeker but was defeated. He is a veteran, former executive director of the Greater Raleigh Merchants Association and former owner of three Meineke car care centers.

District C

The district spans much of Southeast Raleigh and east Raleigh.

▪ Incumbent Corey Branch, a Democrat, is seeking his second term.

Now a senior technical director at AT&T, Branch attended Enloe High School before graduating from N.C. A&T State University with a degree in electrical engineering. His first job was with the City of Raleigh working in water billing and mail services.

▪ James G. Bledsoe, an unaffiliated voter, is a sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve and a correctional officer for the N.C. Department of Public Safety. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Strayer University. He currently serves as vice chairman of the North Carolina chapter of the Veterans Party of America.

▪ Crash Gregg, a unaffiliated voter, is publisher of Triangle Downtowner Magazine, a monthly publication that highlights the best of the Triangle. He says he serves on the boards of several nonprofits.

▪ Jeff Stewart, a Democrat, owns Crema, a 10-year-old coffee shop on Fayetteville Street downtown. He ran for mayor in 1998.

▪ Olen Watson, a Libertarian candidate, is a small-business owner and former special-education teacher for Wake County schools. He is also a former U.S. Marine.

Watson graduated from Enloe High School before receiving a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies from Campbell University and enrolling in a master’s degree program at the N.C. Central University School of Education.

District D

The district spans much of southwest Raleigh.

▪ Incumbent Kay Crowder, a Democrat, is seeking her second term on the council.

Crowder was appointed to the council in 2014 after her husband, Thomas Crowder, died. He had served five terms on the council, from 2003 to 2014. Kay Crowder’s professional experience includes sales, marketing, management and finance.

▪ B.J. Plott is an unaffiliated voter. No other information was immediately available.

District E

The district spans from North Hills to Brier Creek in northwest Raleigh.

▪ Incumbent Bonner Gaylord, an unaffiliated voter, is seeking his fifth term on the council, having served sine 2009. He works as a managing director for Kane Realty.

▪ Stef Mendell, a Democrat, is a self-proclaimed community activist. She previously worked as head of communications for Stiefel, a GlaxoSmithKline company. Since then she has been working with other interested community members on neighborhood issues.

▪ Derek Walker is an unaffiliated voter. No other information was immediately available.

Kathryn Trogdon: 919-829-4845: @KTrogdon

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