Billie Redmonds announcement; thats John Odom behind her.

Redmond’s claim to the job: She’ll be the best salesperson the city could have. Off a very successful career in real estate, she does know how to make a sales pitch. Her announcement this morning drew a big crowd — maybe 200? — to the Occidental Building on Wade Avenue, which she bought and renovated as part of the deal for the property where the ill-fated Coker Towers project would’ve been. Redmond’s a Republican, and she was surrounded by same: City Councilor John Odom, County Commissioner Joe Bryan, Wake school board candidate Heather Losurdo and Wake GOP Chair Susan Bryant were among the notables, along with the Chamber of Commerce crowd of bankers and builders.

Redmond’s entry into the race makes two announced candidates, both women, both energetic business owners and neither a Democrat. Redmond’s bio we went over in a previous blog post. Her campaign website is a work in progress. City Councilor Nancy McFarlane, who is registered as an independent, is a pharmacist and the owner, with her husband, of MedPro Rx, Inc., a “specialty infusion pharmacy that provides medications and services to clients with chronic illnesses.” According to her campaign bio, MedPro Rx did $54 million in revenue in 2010.

Seth Keel, a 16-year high school student, is also running but isn’t old enough to hold the office and won’t be listed on the ballot. Rumors of other Democrats getting in are just that right now. I still don’t know of any.

Raleigh’s had one previous woman mayor, the late Isabella Cannon. She was a feisty neighborhoods advocate, the always interesting “little old lady in tennis shoes.” Redmond, who is diminutive for sure (“about 4′ 11,” she said after cracking a couple of jokes about her “short speeches”) is roughly Cannon’s height. Not at all the same politically, however, nor is McFarlane — both would rather be known as moderate, whereas the very progressive Mayor Cannon was never moderate about anything.

Redmond said the election will be about jobs and leadership. If I remember correctly, McFarlane said the same thing. Both promise to offer a vision for Raleigh’s future growth. No doubt, a vision is what’s needed. Transit? Housing? Community development? Raleigh has succeeded, over the past decade, in executing some visionary plans made in the ’80s. (In the ’90s, courtesy of Republicans Tom Fetzer and Paul Coble, neither of whom attended Redmond’s announcement, by the way, no plans were made.) Time for some new plans. The upcoming campaign offers a good chance to get started on some.