Politics & Government

Raleigh Mayor McFarlane tells City Council time to govern, not play poison politics

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane speaks during the “Primed for Amazon: Value & Cost of HQ2 for Cities” discussion at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, on March 10, 2018. McFarlane was one of four panelists, including Kansas City Mayor Sylvester James Jr., seated right.
Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane speaks during the “Primed for Amazon: Value & Cost of HQ2 for Cities” discussion at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, on March 10, 2018. McFarlane was one of four panelists, including Kansas City Mayor Sylvester James Jr., seated right. Courtesy of The U.S. Conference of Mayors

After months of absences, Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane has picked the gavel back up, swinging.

“Let’s not let the toxic climate of the national political landscape poison the local well,” McFarlane said before Tuesday’s meeting. “The reputation of the Raleigh City Council has always been one of mutual respect between council, citizens and staff, and I want to get back on that track.”

Back surgeries and complications from those surgeries kept McFarlane out of the city limelight since February. She came back briefly in April and May but hasn’t been at a City Council meeting since. Mayor Pro Tem Corey Branch has filled in during her absence.

McFarlane announced she would not seek re-election in 2019. There are six candidates in the race to take her seat.

Being out these past months has been hard, she said, adding it’s been a difficult year for her personally and for the community.

“I want to acknowledge the impact of that gap; appreciating, knowing that you elected me to lead and I was unable to be fully present in that sacred contract,” McFarlane said. “I regret that this happened, and also regret the impact it’s had on the productivity, and frankly the civility, of this council.”

She continued that she is “fired up and ready to move forward.”

“I would like to encourage my fellow city councilors to embrace a tone of collaboration and cooperation as we work together for the remaining time that we sit here as an elected body,” McFarlane said. “It is my hope moving forward that we do not campaign from the table.”

“It is important that we govern, not play politics,” she said.

She also indirectly mentioned council member David Cox. Cox and McFarlane have been on opposing side of issues throughout their time together on council.

“As mayor and council, we set the tone for our city,” McFarlane said. “We have an official code of conduct, and even if you didn’t vote for it, you are obligated to follow it. We owe that to our citizens and each other.”

Cox was the sole council member to vote against the code of conduct back in 2017. He had no comment on the mayor’s remarks Tuesday.

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane is not seeking an other term. Here's a look at the candidates who have announced to replace her in this year's mayoral race. Election day is Oct. 8, 2019.

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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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