Charles Francis is tired.

He’s standing outside Noir Bar, a Glenwood Avenue nightclub, in the cold drizzle of early November, a dark figure on a dark street. Inside, dozens of supporters await. He adjusts his suit—gray, perfectly tailored, as it always is—and walks inside, back stiff, posture perfect, as it always is. He’s greeted by bright lights and applause.

He smiles, as he always does, his smile tempered by exhaustion. He raises his hand and waves.

“What I know deep in my heart, and I think what all of you know here, is that we did win tonight,” the fifty-four-year-old says in his booming baritone, the courtroom voice trial lawyers spend years perfecting.

But Francis hadn’t won. He hadn’t really come close. A month ago, in October 2017, Francis had barely prevented incumbent Nancy McFarlane from securing a majority; then, as the city’s power brokers rolled their eyes, he called for a runoff. Tonight, McFarlane trounced him by eighteen points. 

He’s just gotten off the phone with her.

“What I told her,” he says, “was I would most certainly be available going forward, and I look forward to working with all of you and to working with the new city council and to working with anyone else who wants to do so to make Raleigh a truly great city.”

His speech goes on for fifteen minutes. This, he says, was not his campaign. This was our campaign. And in defeat, there is victory. 

This election proved “you can do difficult things. You can achieve things that people told you that you could not do. And God didn’t put us on this earth to wait until somebody told us it’s our turn. And although we didn’t get it done electorally tonight—”

“This time!” a woman shouts.

For a second, Francis’s hard-won composure melts away. 

“This time. This time. That’s right,” he says. 

Francis grins.

Charles Francis never stopped running. It’s better to think of the period between November 7, 2017, and March 13, 2019—the day McFarlane announced that she wouldn’t seek a fifth term and Francis announced that he’d try again—as an intermission.

In his bones, Francis wants to be mayor, to be a transformational figure for Raleigh and its black community, like Maynard Jackson was in Atlanta. 

For that to happen, however, he needed a new strategy. In 2017, about two-thirds of his support came from African Americans, much of the rest from white progressives energized in the early, urgent days of the anti-Trump resistance. For the first time, McFarlane, an independent, had faced a Democratic challenger amid brewing discontent over the city’s uneven prosperity.

That was good for 42 percent.

To get to 50, Francis had to broaden his coalition. It wouldn’t be enough to win Southeast Raleigh. He needed to attract white voters from outside the Beltline, homeowners worried about rapid growth changing their neighborhoods and clogging their commutes. He seemed to be thinking about that even in his 2017 concession speech, when he namechecked the four city council members who have made skepticism of development their casus belli—David Cox, Stef Mendell, Kay Crowder, and Russ Stephenson—and who, as a bloc, have dominated the council’s agenda the last two years. 

As this year’s campaign hit the homestretch, he joined them to champion their signature issue, city intervention in a lawsuit over an RDU Airport Authority quarry lease. And like them, he’s offering himself as an outsider taking on entrenched, well-heeled interests.

In Francis’s view, his top rivals are part of an establishment that has run Raleigh for too long: Caroline Sullivan, the McFarlane-endorsed former Wake County commissioner with record-shattering fundraising hauls that have come courtesy of big-shot Democratic donors from outside the city, including a recent event in Manhattan with Hillary Clinton; and Mary-Ann Baldwin, the former five-term Raleigh City Council member who’s a favorite of the developers and the downtown business set.

Francis argues that he’s a break from this past—a new direction for a city that needs a new perspective. 

But who is this man who feels destined to be Raleigh’s next mayor? 

That’s not such an easy question to answer. The more you probe, in fact, the more of an enigma Charles Francis becomes.

As it turns out, you can know a lot about Francis without really knowing who he is, under the expensive suits and behind the finely calibrated answers that always sound like what you want to hear.

While he’s publicly aligned with Cox’s group on some issues, he’s distanced himself on others, signaling—in the candidate questionnaire he sent the INDY—receptiveness to increased density in downtown and along some traffic corridors (“with an ethic of inclusiveness”), accessory dwelling units, scooters, and whole-house short-term rentals, as well as reservations about neighborhood conservation districts.

On what he acknowledges is the biggest issue facing Raleigh—housing affordability—it’s hard to get a read on Francis’s plans. He wants to expand homeownership programs and has suggested a property-tax freeze for some seniors. Beyond that, his proposals are frustratingly vague. He supports a bond but won’t specify an amount. At the same time, he says he wants to keep taxes low, and in 2017, he called the city’s last tax hike to fund affordable housing “the wrong approach.” He talks in generalities about adding staff to cut red tape and boosting tax-credit-financed housing. He wants you to trust that he knows what he’s doing. 

Despite “all of that technocratic mumbo-jumbo,” Francis says, Baldwin and Sullivan “are not dealing with those deeper issues that my campaign is working on because for three generations my family has been engaged in a struggle to rise. We understand these issues in a way that those candidates I don’t think do.”

But there’s a through-line in Francis’s life and political career, critics say. The image he projects today doesn’t always match the actions he’s taken, the jobs he’s accepted, or the positions he’s held. Some of these alleged contradictions are detailed in an extensive opposition research document McFarlane’s campaign compiled but never used in 2017. (The INDY has obtained the document—though not from McFarlane or any competing campaign—and independently verified the contents referenced in this story.) Others, they say, have become apparent during this year’s campaign.

Francis’s stance on the RDU quarry netted him the Sierra Club’s endorsement, for instance, but he spent years lobbying for the industrial company Alcoa, whose Badin plant has been accused of polluting the Yadkin River with toxic chemicals. And while Francis says he can leverage his connections to bring about more effective government, he also lobbied for a pyramid scheme that ended with its CEO and Francis’s close friend and law partner convicted of federal crimes. 

Moreover, although Francis says he’s the candidate best positioned to help residents displaced by gentrification, he’s spent a quarter-century as general counsel for the Raleigh Housing Authority—once arguing to the state Supreme Court that RHA tenants should not be allowed to sue over lead-based paint in their homes—even as his own family sold houses and rented out apartments in Southeast Raleigh. 

And while some of Francis’s supporters see him as the embodiment of black Raleigh’s potential others say that, after the 2017 election, he vanished from Southeast Raleigh, retreating to his $3 million, eight-thousand-square-foot Birnamwood Road mansion. 

In the harsh glow of a political campaign, it’s easy for Francis’s enemies to paint him in the worst possible light. Some of these allegations, he disputes; others, he says, lack context. Ultimately, like any brilliant, complex politician—and Francis is, by any measure, both of those things—Francis is more than the sum of a string of facts. 

He’s at once idealistic and cynical, a man driven by ambition and ego but also a sense of the greater good—and a sense that Raleigh’s greater good is him. 


On a wall in Francis’s East North Street law office hangs a black-and-white photo of a stern-faced man with a white handlebar mustache and a hundred-yard stare. 

James Irving was born a slave in Onslow County in 1840. He didn’t know freedom until the end of the Civil War. With nothing to his name, he eventually settled in Jones County, where he had a son, Charles Irving Sr., in 1896, the year the U.S. Supreme Court handed down Plessy v. Ferguson.

After serving in World War I, Irving settled in Raleigh in 1919 and worked as a mailman for over thirty years while also writing for The Raleigh Independent, which became The Carolinian. He opened a printing press in 1947 with his daughter, Vivian, who later joined the front lines of the local civil rights movement through the NAACP, helped integrate the League of Women Voters, and spent three decades as Wake County’s registrar. 

During elections, Vivian sometimes took her nephew, Charles, to check on polling stations.

Meanwhile, the Irving Swain Press became a hub of local black political life, hosting a rotation of movers and shakers, including Clarence Lightner, Raleigh’s first black mayor, and John Winters, its first black city council member. 

As a child, Francis watched these men circulate through the shop. From a young age, politics coursed through his veins.

He also knew loss. His father died of a stroke when he was nine. His grandfather stepped in to raise him. Francis talks about this matter-of-factly. 

“We kept going,” he says. 

At campaign events, Francis repeats the story of his upbringing. He attended Raleigh public schools. He played point guard in high school. He swam in the Chavis Park pool. He spent weekends at the Hillsborough YMCA and summers at the Richard B. Harrison Library. His academic success propelled him to Princeton, then Duke Law.

Francis worked as a federal prosecutor in North Carolina. Before age thirty, he served on Raleigh’s planning commission. In 1993, he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the city council; he lost his election bid later that year. He started a law firm and later helped found North State Bank. In 1995, he became the general counsel for the Raleigh Housing Authority. 

Along the way, Francis became wealthy. (Asked how much he’s worth, Francis replies, “That’s none of the public’s damn business.”)

But as Francis thrived, Southeast Raleigh grew frustrated. Gentrification was taking root, and historically black neighborhoods were being razed and redeveloped. African Americans felt unrepresented and overlooked. By 2016, Francis says, he’d grown frustrated, too. 

One night, Francis recalls, he was talking to his seventeen-year-old son, Chase—“playing Hamlet,” as he puts it—about the idea of running for mayor. Should I? Should I not?

“Dad, I think you should,” Chase said.

“Why?” Francis replied.

“Because I would think you would want to have a legacy beyond us, a broader legacy in the community,” Chase said.

Francis thought the city needed new leadership. But his selfish reason for running, he admits, “is that when I’m old, I want a part of my body of work to be public service.” 

Charles and Vivian Irving had been inducted into the Raleigh Hall of Fame in 2006, alongside Senator Jesse Helms. 

One day, perhaps, Mayor Francis could join them.


Growing up, Francis got used to winning elections. He became student-body president in fifth grade, then again in the ninth and twelfth grades. In high school, he was elected lieutenant governor of Boys Nation, an American Legion youth program. His friend Brent Wood was governor.

The two stayed close. Both became lawyers. After Francis’s failed run for the city council, Francis joined Wood’s firm, which became Wood & Francis. They saw themselves as fighting the system.

“We have a bit of the quality of the rock thrower in us,” Francis told the Triangle Business Journal in 1998. “We often find ourselves on the outside scaling the walls of the castle.”

In 1994, a man named Stan Van Etten hired the firm to represent International Heritage Inc., his multilevel marketing company, which sold luxury goods. In 1997, Francis became the company’s lobbyist.

A year later, Van Etten’s pyramid scheme unraveled. With state and federal regulators bearing down, International Heritage went bankrupt. A 60 Minutes investigation dubbed Van Etten one of the biggest con men of all time for defrauding investors out of millions. In 2005, Van Etten pleaded guilty to fraud and was sentenced to ten years in prison; after becoming a prison informant, he was granted early release in 2012. Wood, meanwhile, was disbarred in 2006 after being convicted by a federal jury of wire fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering—one of at least ten former Van Etten associates to have pleaded guilty or been found guilty of charges related to International Holdings.

Francis was not among them.

“I certainly wasn’t aware of any criminal activity,” he says.

The law practice dissolved in 2000, years before Wood and Van Etten were convicted, Francis points out—but after International Holdings dissolved and the 60 Minutes exposé. Francis says he and Wood remain friends. Wood donated $250 to Francis’s campaign, records show. 

All the while, Francis was general counsel for the Raleigh Housing Authority, a position he still holds. He has argued that his work there gives him insight into the city’s affordable housing crisis. 

His tenure began with tragedy. A carbon monoxide leak killed a mother and son in Walnut Terrace. The RHA sacked its director and attorney and hired Francis in 1995. 

The agency has come under scrutiny during Francis’s time. In 2006, a federal judge ruled that the RHA revoked a Section 8 voucher without giving the tenant a proper hearing. In 2014, WNCN reported that the RHA had awarded Section 8 vouchers to families making more than the median income. That same year, the state Labor Department fined the RHA for failing to tell employees they were working in asbestos-filled buildings. It then came to light that the RHA’s director, Steve Beam, was earning a $280,000 salary while taking a month off a year to pursue a side gig as a magician. Beam subsequently retired. 

As general counsel, Francis reviewed Beam’s contract, but he didn’t set its terms. Still, he thinks Beam may have been worth it. 

“He was well-compensated,” Francis says. “But, in general, I think that top performers in government are often under-compensated. We would get better service from our top people if you paid them well and then held them to account.”

Last year, the INDY reported that the RHA is facing a declining number of landlords willing to accept Section 8 vouchers, which has contributed to a three-to-seven-year housing-assistance waiting list. Some landlords accused the agency of being a bureaucratic nightmare. 

As the RHA’s lawyer, Francis isn’t responsible for its policy decisions. That’s up to the board of directors, which is appointed by the city council. But he does carry out the agency’s evictions. And in 2002, when Tyrone Horton’s guardian ad litem sued the RHA on the ten-year-old’s behalf—arguing that the RHA had stuck him and his family in a housing unit with lead-based paint, which led to “lead poisoning” and “severe injuries”—it was Francis’s job to defend the RHA.

He did, successfully. In 2004, Francis convinced the state Supreme Court that the RHA was protected by sovereign immunity, the doctrine that says governments can only be sued to the extent that they have insurance covering that type of lawsuit. (The RHA’s insurance policy specifically excluded lead-paint claims, according to the ruling.) 

If Francis wins, he’d likely have to give up the RHA gig, which he bills at $150 an hour—less than half his usual rate, he notes. 

Just before five o’clock on a September morning in 2008, Matt Moore discovered water dripping from a light fixture on the ceiling of his first-floor East Davie Street condo. He laid down towels to contain the spill, then he walked upstairs and knocked on the door of the apartment above. No one answered.

The leak continued. A few hours later, Moore was using buckets to catch the water. He asked the condo’s homeowners association for help. The HOA told him that the condo upstairs belonged to Charles Francis, who rented it out. Moore called. An assistant from Francis’s law firm showed up later that morning and found that the source of the leak was a faulty water heater.

Then, Moore wrote in an account of the incident on social media, the assistant handed him a document to sign stating that Francis was responsible for damages—with a handwritten addendum that added, “to the extent not covered by the insurance of the homeowners association.” (Moore confirmed this account to the INDY.) 

By that afternoon, the water had finally stopped dripping. A team from the HOA tore out a section of the ceiling. Later, they returned to pull up the hardwood floors in multiple rooms, remove drywall and insulation, and install industrial fans to dry out the condo.

Eventually, Francis—whom Moore described as a man in a “fancy suit”—stopped by.

“I know immediately by his posture and his words that I am an inconvenience,” Moore wrote. “I’m just paperwork and phone calls that weren’t on his docket. Nor were they billable. I have never had a first-impression-stench from someone quite that strong. He doesn’t even budge in offering help, apology, or cooperation.”

Moore’s apartment needed about $15,000 in repairs, which were covered by insurance with a $3,000 deductible.

The HOA tried to recoup the funds from Francis, but Moore later learned that Francis’s unit was uninsured, and attempts to collect the debt were unsuccessful. Believing that challenging a “millionaire trial attorney” in court would unlikely go in his favor, Moore shouldered the costs himself.

“He was an absentee landlord who protected his own butt,” Moore wrote. “He didn’t care about the property he owned.”

Francis denies that he was negligent “in any way.” 

“We didn’t pay for the damage down below because it wasn’t something that was our fault or that we were obligated to do,” he says. “I’m not in business to give away money, and I didn’t do that in this case.”

Francis still owns the condo, which he purchased in 1991 for $76,500. (It’s now worth three times that.) According to property records, he also owns his Birnamwood mansion and a more modest home next door, as well as two smaller homes near Meredith College.

His mother, Florence Irving Francis, owns twelve properties in Raleigh, according to Wake County records. She inherited most of them from Charles Irving Sr. or her sister, Vivian. The rest she secured through loans from North State Bank.

Several of those properties contain nice, well-kept homes. Others are older dwellings in lower-income neighborhoods or vacant, overgrown lots. 

The city has issued three of the properties a total of four code violations since 2018, all of which were resolved within two weeks. Two properties have been deemed unfit for human habitation; they were repaired and brought up to code. 

Francis’s family has also reaped the benefits of Southeast Raleigh’s gentrification. Property records show that Florence Francis has sold several properties that were later flipped, including some to developer Jason Queen, who specializes in historic renovations. 

Francis says he shouldn’t be faulted for what his relatives do, and he doesn’t manage his mother’s properties. 

“My mother, at the young age of ninety-four, is quite capable of managing her own affairs,” he says. “She has a memory that is better than most forty-year-olds and is fully in charge of her own business.”

He adds: “You can’t hold me responsible for a decision that was made by a family member in terms of a sale of a property or whatever the criticism may be. I don’t own any properties that I wouldn’t live in myself, period.” 

Geraldine Alshamy believed in Francis.

In 2017, she was one of the many volunteers working for his campaign. She knocked on on doors throughout Southeast Raleigh and registered people to vote. She thought Nancy McFarlane hadn’t done enough to combat gentrification or help the city’s homeless.

“I worked on his campaign like a Hebrew slave,” she says. “I really believed that he was really about all the people in East Raleigh, all the people. He said all the right things.”

Francis made his presence known in Southeast Raleigh in 2017. But after he lost, Alshamy says, he disappeared. For six months, she says, she tried to get in touch, but he never took her calls. 

Finally, she got the message. 

“To me, [he] made a lot of promises, I can’t say what he did for anybody else,” Alshamy says. “I will not support you. If one vote would be the reason you don’t get it, and that would be my vote, you wouldn’t get it.”

“Charles may have become preoccupied with some other things after the 2017 [election], and that may or may not be part of the issues that people are contemplating on whether they are supporting him or not,” says Danny Coleman, who chairs the South Central Citizens Advisory Council. “It’s been up to him to explain that away.”

Joshua Bishop El, a community activist who chairs Justice Served NC, is still backing Francis, who he says is the only candidate who understands the issues facing Southeast Raleigh. 

“He’s basically the example of the American dream for the African American,” Bishop El says. “Some people try to look for the flaws or look where they can assassinate a person’s characteristics. It wasn’t easy getting to the position he’s in now. It was hard work, and the hard work is paying off.”


Two weeks before the 2017 runoff, Francis met with the Triangle Urban Republicans, pitching himself as a bridge-builder willing to work across party lines. Amid the fury over President Trump’s then-recent remarks about the white supremacists in Charlottesville and the Durham protesters who had toppled a downtown monument to “The Boys Who Wore the Gray,” he told the mostly white audience that “there is too much shouting across town squares over the Confederate memorials.”

Instead of shouting, he said, “I’m going to listen to what you think and try to come to a solution and not focus on ideology.”

Asked about that quote, Francis says he was “obviously not making a point in support of Confederate memorials.” Rather, he was trying to show them that he could work across the aisle, he says. 

Dredging up old quotes is a distraction, he says, pivoting to a familiar refrain: “What’s far more important than whether we have a Confederate memorial up or not is who owns the property in Raleigh, who has the job opportunities in Raleigh, who has business opportunities in Raleigh, who has housing opportunities in Raleigh.”

In April, a Raleigh police officer shot and killed Soheil Mojarrad, a man with a history of mental illness. The officer had turned off his body camera. According to the Raleigh Police Department, Mojarrad grabbed a folding knife from his pocket, “crouched in an aggressive stance,” and approached the officer while screaming profanities. The officer shot him eight times.

Mojarrad’s death renewed calls for a civilian oversight board. For years, the city council had dragged its feet on the issue, largely because creating a board with subpoena and disciplinary powers would require changing state law.

In June, Francis appeared to suggest that the city push to do just that. In an interview with the INDY, he said a civilian oversight board was overdue.

“It’s not acceptable to say [that] because it hasn’t been before, we’re not going to do it,” he said. “Sometimes a role in leadership is to go to the General Assembly and work with them to get changes in state law so we can move where we need to go.”

Months later, the ACLU sent candidates a questionnaire asking if they would support a police oversight board. Francis said yes, adding, “I am the first mayoral candidate to call for it, and believe that the city council and [the activist group Police Accountability Community Task Force] should actively work together.”

But in a survey from The News & Observer, Francis gave a different answer. He told the paper that “the community must continue to work in tandem with the police department, as opposed to merely overseeing its actions.”

Confused, the ACLU asked Francis for clarification. On September 14, Francis—who had received the endorsement of the Raleigh Police Protective Association—submitted a new answer to the ACLU, this time saying that, while he favored a review board, he didn’t think it should have subpoena power. (Francis’s response to the INDY’s questionnaire, submitted on September 17, had the same answer.)

Asked about his apparent change of mind, Francis says he’s received about twenty-five surveys during the campaign and hasn’t had time to complete them all, so he farmed some out. (Not the INDY’s, he promises.) 

“Honestly, I haven’t even read the ACLU questionnaire you’re talking about. Just some staff person did that,” Francis says. 

Francis says he never changed his position—and it’s “misleading in the extreme” to suggest that he did so. 

“It is just false to leave the impression that I ever intended to say that I was for the subpoena power,” he says.

On August 22, at a mayoral forum hosted by real estate developers from the NAIOP, Francis said he “hadn’t come to a final decision” on whether the city should join the Umstead Coalition’s lawsuit the stop RDU’s quarry lease.

Three days later, Francis attended a screening of the anti-quarry documentary 400 Feet Down at the Rialto Theater, alongside members of the Umstead Coalition and the four council incumbents who have made the lease a focal point of their campaigns. There, Francis gave a similar speech to the one he gave at the NAIOP forum, except now he’d reached a decision: He would be the fifth vote to join the lawsuit. His announcement was met with a standing ovation.

Asked what changed in those three days, Francis is candid: nothing. 

“Why are you going to shoot your best shot in practice?” he explains. “You shoot your best shot in the game. The Rialto was the game.”

Francis’s opposition to the quarry won him the backing of some environmental advocates. But from 1993 to 2001, he worked as a lobbyist for Alcoa, an aluminum manufacturing company that had a smelting plant in Badin, a small town about forty miles northeast of Charlotte. (The plant closed in 2007 and was partially demolished in 2010.)

For sixty years, until the late seventies, Alcoa used the town’s unlined dump for its aluminum waste. Environmentalists have argued that toxins from the aluminum have leaked into nearby water supplies. 

A creek near the landfill, for instance, was found to contain cyanide, while fluoride, cyanide, and other toxins were discovered in nearby wetlands. Areas around the smelting plant tested positive for PCBs—a heavy toxic chemical group banned since 1979—and the carcinogenic solvent TCE.

In the area around the plant, people were dying of cancers that attorney Mona Wallace believed were connected to Alcoa’s pollution: colon, lung, stomach, brain, kidney, blood, esophagus, pancreas, bladder, throat, skin, tongue, some in conjunction with each other. Wallace—a partner at the North Carolina firm Wallace Graham, which has also brought a series of high-profile lawsuits against the hog industry—filed hundreds of complaints against Alcoa, but her clients often died before she could reach a settlement, according to a 2016 report from Energy & Environmental News

Alcoa has denied any wrongdoing. 

According to E&E News, in 1992—the year before Francis became an Alcoa lobbyist—Alcoa sued its insurers for the cost of pollution damage and remediation at dozens of its facilities across the country. It singled out its three smelting plants, including Badin, for high cleanup costs, more than $50 million each. The other two smelting plants have since been declared Superfund sites. Badin has not.

Francis points out that he hasn’t been the company’s lobbyist in nearly two decades. He says most of his work for Alcoa involved helping a subsidiary called Yadkin Inc. “in its stewardship of the water and land and representing the company to legislators and state officials.” 

“I’m proud of the work I did in helping the company to be a steward of the water and land,” Francis says. “But, of course, that representation does not mean that I had any involvement or influence over everything that the company did or even all of its legal matters beyond the scope of my work for them.” 

This, too, is a distraction, Francis argues.

“In writing your story,” he cautions, “try to avoid false parallels that mislead more than inform in an effort to support a thesis.” 


“You have to make hay while the sun is shining,” Charles Irving Sr. often told his grandson.

Irving went to work at the printing press every day until his ninety-seventh birthday. He died in his sleep exactly one year later.

Francis inherited his grandfather’s habits; he often works from “can’t see in the morning to can’t see at night.” He’s driven even in his hobbies. He runs—three miles a day, several days a week. He goes to the Y and lifts weights. He plays squash, smashing the ball against a wall until his opponent can’t return his serve.

Charles Francis goes after what he wants, and he usually gets it. When it doesn’t, he tries again. 

That’s another lesson he learned from his grandfather.

“He was indomitable,” Francis says. “He would not give up. When there was business or family or something personal, he would not be defeated.”

Until the end, Francis never got riled. Every question elicited a swift, confident, yet dispassionate answer. 

“When you step out into the arena, you expect that you’re going to get bloodied,” he said two weeks ago. “I’ve lived my life in a way that I’m proud of my accomplishments as a lawyer, I’m proud of my accomplishments in business, and I don’t have things to apologize for or be ashamed about.”

Then, on September 26, The News & Observer endorsed Mary-Ann Baldwin, a week after the INDY had done so. To Francis, this was a signal that the powers-that-be weren’t going to give him a fair shake. 

And in a final interview for this story—a last round of questions about Alcoa, about his mother’s Southeast Raleigh’s properties, about the N&O’s endorsement—he finally sounded upset, even mad

The N&O’s “intellectually lazy” endorsement refused to deal with the “nuance of my positions,” he said. The “consensus establishment opinion” of “certain Democratic electeds” doesn’t want change because the status quo is “to their benefit. The rationale of my campaign is that too many people have been left out of that consensus.”

The hell with them all. 

Like Charles Irving Sr., Francis sees himself as indomitable. His confidence is palpable. This time around, he believes victory is inevitable. With a strong enough turnout, he added, he might even win an outright majority on Tuesday. 

And one way or another, he predicted, “I am going to be the next mayor of Raleigh.” 

Contact staff writer Leigh Tauss at ltauss@indyweek.com. The story has been updated to correct the terms of the document signed by Matt Moore. 

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2 replies on “The Enigma of Raleigh Mayoral Candidate Charles Francis”

  1. I expected better from the Indy. I’ve perviously respected and enjoyed your reporting, however, your bias has grown irresponsible. Your reporting implies that it’s okay for individuals such as McFarlane and Sullivan to accumulate wealth and success but God forbid a person of color dare to do the same. A black man can only support SE Raleigh if he’s poor? Your bias and privilege is tacky and unprofessional. Even though you don’t support Francis, which you’ve made abundantly clear, this was an careless piece of journalism. In an age where the media is being attacked so heavily, I would hope the Indy and the N&O not to sink to this self -destructive level of reporting.

  2. The person who wrote this was not even in Raleigh in 2017. While Francis has issues and I won’t vote for him, Mary Ann Baldwin is taking money from Trump donors like John Kane who have called Raleigh a eyesore. Why is Indy Week endorsing people who take money from Republicans? Also, Baldwin is taking money from Kimberlee Meeker, the daughter in law of Mayor Meeker whose brother owns this paper. A clear conflict of interest. Once again, Indy Week is defending the same white establishment they proclaim to be against.

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