Raleigh mayoral candidate Charles Francis said Wednesday that he wants to check with supporters and see final vote tallies before he makes a call on a runoff with incumbent Mayor Nancy McFarlane.
In addition, city council candidates Bonner Gaylord and Stacy Miller had not made decisions by Wednesday afternoon on whether to ask for runoffs in their races.
Because of a quirk in state law, State Board of Elections officials were urging candidates across North Carolina to decide quickly on whether to request runoffs.
McFarlane, an unaffiliated politician, outpolled Francis, a Democrat, by more than six thousand votes but would have needed to collect more than half the vote to win outright. Francis told reporters that the mayor’s failure to reach a majority showed “broad dissatisfaction” with her performance in office.
“We’re very proud of our strong showing last night,” Perry Woods, a campaign consultant for McFarlane, said Wednesday. “We’re going to prepare like there will be a runoff and are confident about the outcome.”
Two other races in Tuesday’s municipal voting were still up in the air Wednesday afternoon: District E incumbent Gaylord said he had not decided whether to ask for a runoff against challenger Stefanie Mendell, who also failed to receive a majority, albeit by just a few dozen votes.
“I hope that Mr. Gaylord will make the right decision in this race and concede,” Mendell, who garnered 49.67 percent of the vote in unofficial tallies, said in a press release.
The press release has a misleading title—“STEF MENDELL UPSETS 4-TERM INCUMBENT IN DISTRICT E”—as Mendell will only upset Gaylord if the officials tally puts her over 50 percent, if he steps aside, or if he loses a runoff.
Wake County elections director Gary Sims said Wednesday that mail-in ballots postmarked Tuesday and received by five p.m. Friday, as well as provisional ballots, will be counted in a canvas that will begin Monday.
Also on Wednesday, at-large third-place
Stacy Miller had not made public whether he’d ask for a runoff. Miller finished behind incumbent Russ Stephenson, who returns to his post, and environmental organization official Nicole Stewart, who needed 25 percent of the vote to prevail without a runoff. Stewart’s unofficial total was 23 percent.
Meanwhile, the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement on Wednesday urged candidates who are eligible to seek a runoff to make their decisions expeditiously.
“Changes to state law last year compressed the time between certification of election results and the state of early voting for runoffs,” said Kim Westbrook Strach, executive director of the state Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. “Candidates, by statute, have until noon on October 19 to request a runoff, but early voting is scheduled to begin the next day.”
(According to Wake County’s website, early voting actually begins on October 19.)