Raleigh Report

Former Raleigh councilman will run again, two years after defeat

John Odom
John Odom handout

John Odom wants his old seat on the City Council back.

Odom, 70, plans to run for Raleigh City Council in District B, a seat he lost to David Cox in 2015 by fewer than 300 votes. He said he plans to file for the seat at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Odom held the seat for 16 years before losing to Cox. On Tuesday, Odom described Cox as a “no-growther” who’s not listening to the needs of all residents.

“I like bringing both sides to the table to hear what they think,” Odom said. “I think he pushes his own agenda moreso than anything else.”

Odom said Cox might have lost the community’s trust because he was the only council member to vote against a “code of conduct” earlier this year. Cox said the code reduces government transparency by discouraging council members from sharing their opinions in some situations. He also said it hampers council members’ ability to inform the public about important issues.

Cox, a politically unaffiliated computer scientist, won in 2015 in part because some residents viewed Odom as too friendly with developers. On Tuesday, Odom said he left the Republican Party to become an unaffiliated voter.

Odom ran as a Republican for City Council and last year for the Wake County Board of Commissioners, when he lost to Democrat Greg Ford.

“There’s all sorts of craziness on both sides,” he said. “Raleigh’s mostly independent. I’m still a conservative guy. I haven’t gotten away from my principles. But I also think we need to invest in all the things that make this city great.”

Odom, a small business owner, said he would have found a way to raise employee salaries in the most recent city budget without raising the property tax rate by 0.7 cents. He said his top priorities are adding affordable housing in Raleigh, expanding the city’s transit system and improving its parks.

“There’s been a neighborhood or two that asked me to get back in and get things done,” he said.

District B “is the largest and most diverse district in the whole city,” he said. “I want to represent everybody.”

Paul A. Specht: 919-829-4870, @AndySpecht