The voters of Raleigh have spoken and the council’s NIMBY majority is no more.
Mary-Ann Baldwin pulled out on top in the mayoral race with 38 percent of the votes after a nail-biting race against Charles Francis, who told supporters to expect a runoff. Francis netted just over 31 percent of the votes and Caroline Sullivan, the top fundraiser, trailed at 20 percent.
“This is awesome,” Baldwin told her supporters at Player’s Retreat after the votes rolled in. “It’s, you know, really apparent that our message resonated with voters.”
In the district races, it was a rough night for the Raleigh City Council’s pro-neighborhood incumbents, all of whom lost to challengers except for David Cox.
The biggest upset came in District E from challenger David Knight, who trounced incumbent Stef Mendell with 69 percent.
District D challenger Saige Martin beat out incumbent Kay Crowder with 47 percent of the vote to her 33 percent. Crowder did not respond to the INDY’s question on whether she’d be calling for a runoff.
In District A, Patrick Buffkin secured victory over Sam Hershey with 52 percent of the vote.
Corey Branch scored an easy victory in District C, with 63 percent of the vote.
David Cox also kept his seat earning 54 percent of District B, defeating challenger Brian Fitzsimmons. Fitzsimmons conceded the race on Twitter, writing “tonight wasn’t our night.”
Nicole Stewart came out on top in the at-large race with 34 percent of the votes, followed by challenger Jonathan Melton at 23 percent and incumbent Russ Stephenson at 19 percent.
Stephenson told the INDY he would be challenging Melton to a runoff.
“The campaign begins again tomorrow,” he said.
Francis is expected to make a formal announcement Wednesday as to whether he’ll pursue a runoff. But earlier in the night, when Francis was just a point ahead of Baldwin, he told a room full of supporters at Cantina 18 that should there be a runoff, “I want everybody to go home and get a good night sleep and tomorrow we’re going to put our running shoes on.”
Francis got fewer votes Tuesday than he did against McFarlane in October 2017, where he walked away with 37 percent of the vote. He lost to McFarlane by 18 points that November.
Sullivan did not give a formal concession speech for her supporters at Sitti restaurant downtown, but told the INDY, “we ran a race that I’m very proud of.”
“I think our message of optimism and bringing people together and collaboration was a good one and it just didn’t work out the way we wanted it to,” Sullivan said.
The other mayoral hopefuls in the race—Zainab Baloch, George Knott and Justin Sutton— finished with less than 10 percent of votes combined.
It was Baloch’s second bid for elected office in Raleigh after running at-large in 2017. In a post on social media, she wrote, “this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.”
“We lost, but we’ve built a movement unheard of not just in Raleigh, but in southern history,” Baloch wrote. “I’m not stopping here, and I’m counting on y’all to build on the people power we’ve created.”
Here’s a breakdown of the votes:
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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I’m very disappointed in the lack of diversity on the Raleigh City Council. I’m afraid if Baldwin is elected it’ll be more of the same. The same voices will be heard while some are ignored.
Any word if the runoffs are happening? The campaigns have been pretty quiet about it. Hoping they realize it’s pointless and don’t bother.
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