As fall and Oct. 10 elections draw nigh, the Triangle calendar is dotted with candidate forums for municipal elections.
A sort of speed-dating take on hometown politics, events such as the one Tuesday night at Antioch Baptist Church in Southeast Raleigh draw well-known incumbents and novices alike. Each has to blast through something like a stump speech, hoping to hit key words and concepts that will turn voters their way.
Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane had two minutes to speak, just like the others who approached the podium with varied degrees of preparation and expertise. A timekeeper gave each candidate a warning yellow sign and a red one that meant,”Stop, now.”
“Oh, man!” said at-large candidate Zainab Baloch, as she had to stop in mid-sentence, wrapping up quickly: “We need to have conversations to break down barriers so we can keep praising Raleigh.”
Candidates referred to Raleigh’s high rankings in numerous national surveys, but contrasted that standing with shortfalls in affordable housing, good-paying jobs, transportation and social mobility.
“Now we’re facing big challenges,” McFarlane said after noting successes during her tenure. “I have the experience to face these challenges and I have the relationships locally, statewide and nationally to work together to face these difficult challenges.”
Mayoral challenger Charles Francis told the crowd he would serve all residents, inside and outside the Beltline, white, African-American, “Latino, Muslim, Pakistani, Asian, of all different backgrounds.”
“My view is that every policy we adopt should be viewed through an equity lens in terms of how it affects the least of all people,” Francis said.
The final mayoral candidate, Paul Fitts, hit his principal theme of fiscal responsibility: “I’ll hear my opponents talk about Triple A bond rating. A Triple A bond rating is the same as paying your credit cards on time, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re paying down that debt.”
At about 460,000 people, booming Raleigh is creeping up on Wyoming, the smallest state at about 585,000 folks. But in Triangle communities, politics is mostly practiced at the retail level. The rhetoric on Tuesday may not have equaled Lincoln vs. Douglas, but the mayoral candidates and most of the council hopefuls stuck around after the speeches to make plain any points they’d missed.
As executive director of WakeUp Wake County, Karen Rindge is one of the organizers of another Wake municipal elections forum, on Sept. 28.
“There are so many people running for office, we want people to pay attention to who the candidates are and what their positions are on all these important issues, like affordable housing, drinking water, transportation and
planning for growth and development,” Rindge said Wednesday.
For the record, those in attendance Tuesday, in addition to those already mentioned were at-large candidates Shelia Alamin-Khashoggi, Russ Stephenson, Nicole Stewart, Robert Ward, and a surrogate for Stacy Miller; District A’s Alex Moore; District B’s David Cox and John Odom; District C’s Corey Branch, James Bledsoe, Crash Gregg and Olen Watson; District C’s Kay Crowder; District E’s Bonner Gaylord and Stephanie Mendel.
Cary Municipal Elections Candidate Forum
7 p.m., Sept. 21
Mayton Inn, 301 S Academy St., Cary
Sponsors: League of Women Voters of Wake County, Cary Women’s Club, Heart of Cary, WakeUp Wake County, and Delta Sigma Theta Alumnae.
Durham People’s Mayoral and City Council Candidate Forum
5:30-8:30 p.m., September 13
Hayti Heritage Center/St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation, Inc.
804 Old Fayetteville St, Durham, North Carolina 27701
Sponsors: National Domestic Workers Alliance — We Dream in Black Durham Chapter, Raise Up—Fight for 15, Durham for All, UE-150, and N.C. Black Women’s Roundtable
Durham, Wake, Chatham, Orange counties
2017 Political Pig Pickin’ 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., September 21
The Pavilion at Angus Barn
9401 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh,
Sponsor: Triangle Community Coalition
$50 in advance, $65 at door
Raleigh Municipal Elections Candidate Forum
7-9 p.m., Sept. 28
Avent Ferry United Methodist Church
2700 Avent Ferry Road, Raleigh, NC
Sponsors: League of Women Voters of Wake County, WakeUp Wake County, and Delta Sigma Theta Alumnae.
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