Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin has landed a new job as the Triangle director of business development for the Rocky Mount-based Barnhill Contracting Company, a position that will certainly fuel critics’ complaints that she is too close to the development community. 

Barnhill’s work includes the Duke Energy Performing Arts Center, the Wake County Justice Center, and the Raleigh Convention Center. More recently, the firm built The Dillon, an upscale mixed-use project in the Warehouse District. 

In her new role, Baldwin will “develop strategy, cultivate external relationships, and lead marketing efforts to elevate our business and project acquisition performance,” according to a press release. 

Baldwin previously led the Holt Brothers Foundation, the nonprofit arm of a construction firm that supports children who have a parent suffering from cancer. 

Baldwin says she wasn’t looking for a new job. Instead, she received a call from a recruiter a few weeks ago, and the opportunity came at the right time. Amid the pandemic, she says, businesses were limited in their ability to donate to the foundation, and if the crisis worsened, she worried her job might vanish. So when Barnhill knocked, she answered.

If you are skeptical that a major construction company would lay off the mayor of North Carolina’s second-largest city—or, for that matter, that a recruiter’s call dangling a position with another major construction company had nothing to do with MAB’s other job title—you’re probably not alone.

Baldwin says such skepticism is unwarranted. 

“Here’s the economics of it,” she says. “If you are running a foundation and can’t raise money, how can you support that person? You are in a quandary, and that is why you are going to see a lot of nonprofits go out of business.”

Either way, the news is sure to provide ammo to the first-term mayor’s critics, who throughout the campaign last year assailed her as a pawn of developers and downtown business interests. And given how involved Barnhill is in projects across the city, it is likely to raise questions of conflicts of interest.

On March 3, for example, the city council awarded Barnhill a contract worth more than $6.3 million to resurface streets. Baldwin says she was not approached about the position at the company until after that vote was taken, and she believes she received the offer on or around April 15.

She says she will handle potential conflicts the same way she did when she worked for Holt Brothers: “If something comes up, you work with the city attorney, you be very transparent about it, you announce you have a conflict, you ask for the city attorney to advise you, and then you ask to be recused. You walk away from the table, and they take a vote.

“Here’s the fact,” she continues. “If you are a part-time elected official and you work in certain areas, you are going to have conflicts. The rule is to be very transparent, above-board, and keep the line drawn down the middle—don’t cross the line.”

Baldwin says she’s proud to work for a company that’s building Raleigh’s future. 

“It’s a construction company, and construction companies build our hospitals and our public institutions,” Baldwin says. “Building our community isn’t something I’m ashamed about.”

She declined to share her salary with the INDY.

As Raleigh mayor—which, for some reason, is still considered a part-time gig—she makes about $24,000 a year. 

Contact Raleigh news editor Leigh Tauss at ltauss@indyweek.com.

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3 replies on “Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin Has a New Job With a Major Construction Company”

  1. I wouldn’t have a problem if Mary-Ann Baldwin had ‘office’ in the Wake County Justice Center with a closed door policy for a couple of years after all the damage she’s done to Raleigh.

  2. There will be a conflict every time she votes on a rezoning or road project. Because her new employer could then get more business. There will be a conflict every time she votes to spend taxpayer dollars to incentivize a business to come to Raleigh or expand here. because her new employer could benefit from the business. If this is not illegal, it should be. It’s certainly not appropriate. She needs to resign.

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