The elections for Raleigh city council and mayor are finally coming up after a year-long delay.

The elections, scheduled with the November 8 mid-terms, were originally expected to take place last year. As in other cities and towns, Raleigh’s local elections were delayed because of pandemic-era problems with the decennial census and redistricting.

Instead of holding elections in May, however, the way some towns (including Cary) did, the Raleigh city council secretly voted to move the election to November 2022, giving the mayor and council members an extra 13 months in office. 

The council’s vote came in closed session, garnering criticism from Gov. Roy Cooper, state lawmakers, and nonprofit Democracy NC. Despite Cooper’s objection, a state bill pushing back some local elections and permanently moving Raleigh’s elections from odd-numbered years to even-numbered years became law.

Now, voters will finally have the chance to decide whether Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin and some of the city council members running again should continue to serve or get booted out.

Following a turbulent and politically divisive couple of years, three incumbents have decided not to seek re-election—Nicole Stewart, who holds an at-large seat; Patrick Buffkin, who represents District A; and David Cox, who represents District B.

Cox has often been the sole voice of dissent in a mostly pro-development council. He’s continually criticized the council’s decision to dissolve citizen advisory councils (CACs). His decision to step down could make way for a more pro-growth voice.

At the same time, however, there are five other seats up for grabs, so the makeup of the new city council is anyone’s guess. New council members may end up continuing the current council’s pro-growth momentum or backtracking toward more moderate growth strategies.

Here are the candidates who are running for office. Find your district here.

Raleigh Mayor

Mary-Ann Baldwin

Filed July 6, 2022

Baldwin was first elected to the city council in 2007 as an at-large member and served five terms before being elected mayor in 2019. She works as the vice president of Advancement for First Tee – Triangle, a youth development organization that helps children grow through golf. Baldwin recently announced she’s raised more than $625,000 for this year’s election and has $500,000 cash on hand. 

Baldwin has voted in favor of creating more residential density through apartment buildings, townhomes, and accessory dwelling units. She also had a hand in pushing through an $80 million affordable housing bond in 2020. She’s a supporter of new bus rapid transit lines, fare-free buses, and the construction of more sidewalks and bike lanes. She also supports the $275 million parks bond that will be on the ballot in November and advocates for an increase in funding to renovate Dorothea Dix Park. 

Baldwin and other council members have faced criticism for their unflinching support of the Raleigh Police Department. The Police Advisory Board created by the council is now all but defunct, and in the most recent budget, council members ignored a proposal by Refund Raleigh to divest from the police and invest in community safety. Baldwin has also faced criticism for her approach to community engagement, having dissolved CACs (although they did have significant problems) and reduced the time for people to speak at city council meetings from three minutes to one minute. 

Terrance Ruth

Filed July 11, 2022

Ruth is a lecturer at N.C. State’s School of Social Work. He has also served as executive director of the NC NAACP and the Justice Love Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money for social justice causes. Ruth has criticized the city council for its handling of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, approval of the Downtown South project, and lack of community engagement. He’s a strong voice for diversity, equity, and inclusion, saying minority voices need to be included in the decision-making process and that development should be community-oriented. 

Read an interview with Ruth here.

DaQuanta Copeland

Filed July 8, 2022

Copeland, a single mom, threw her hat in the ring for the mayoral race last week. Copeland works as a senior processing specialist at the College Foundation of North Carolina, a nonprofit that helps people go to college through financial and academic advising. The nonprofit targets its efforts at those who may find the college application process more difficult than most, including immigrants, active-duty military, students who are homeless, and students with disabilities.

Copeland also serves as the vice-chair of Wake County’s Health and Human Services Board, which advocates for public health, social services, and environmental programs. As vice-chair, she’s able to be the voice for the people in her community, she says. In 2018, she founded a nonprofit, 2B’s Brains and Brother, which aims to empower youth to become community leaders. 

“While still in the development stages of the organization it became more apparent that there was no way to successfully change the lives of our youth when they had to return to homes filled with disparities,” she said in an email. “My experience is in loving and empowering people to become the best version of themselves. Everything I’ve ever involved myself with was in support of others and creating a better environment for people.”


Jonathan Melton (incumbent)

Filed July 6, 2022

Melton was elected to the city council in 2019 as one of the first openly gay candidates elected to citywide office. He works as a board-certified specialist in family law and is a partner at the law firm Gailor Hunt Davis Taylor & Gibbs. During his time on the city council, Melton advocated for a non-discrimination ordinance to protect LGBTQ people, people of color, and others. He also pushed for police oversight and the creation of a police advisory board. 

Melton led the efforts to allow accessory commercial units in neighborhoods, as well as create a social district around Fayetteville Street, which allows visitors to carry open containers of alcohol at certain times. Melton is an advocate for affordable housing and improvements to public transportation such as bus stop renovations and the construction of more bike lanes. 

Stormie Forte (currently represents District D)

Filed July 8, 2022

Forte, the first African American woman to serve on the city council, was appointed to her seat in 2020 after Saige Martin resigned amid allegations of sexual assault and misconduct. Forte is a licensed attorney and real estate agent who currently works as a radio talk show host for WRSV (92.1 FM). 

During Forte’s time on the council, she supported the non-discrimination ordinance and fought for more aggressive measures to preserve affordable housing. Forte has said she’s in support of creating a more expansive tax relief program for long-time property owners in Southeast Raleigh, who are now burdened by increasing property tax. 

James Bledsoe

Filed July 1, 2022

Bledsoe, a member of the U.S. Army Reserve and a combat veteran, currently works as an IT analyst for the NC Department of Health and Human Services. Bledsoe previously ran for an at-large seat in 2019 and lost. 

If elected, Bledsoe says he’ll continue to increase residential density and support removing height restrictions on buildings to allow for apartments, tiny homes, and cottage courts. He’s also in favor of reducing lot sizes and parking requirements, allowing mixed-use housing, and removing Neighborhood Conservation Overlay Districts. Bledsoe is an advocate for veterans and first responders and aims to raise pay for the Raleigh police officer and firefighters. He also considers himself a fiscal conservative. 

Portia Rochelle

Filed July 1, 2022

Rochelle currently works as a pastor at the Word For Transformation Church and Outreach Center in Raleigh, which she founded. She has also served as an associate minister for Macedonia New Life Church and as the president of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP, where she advocated for social justice. Rochelle previously ran for an at-large seat in 2019, but lost. 

Rochelle’s has said she’s in favor of giving a police review board subpoena power. During her last campaign, she was also in support of tax relief for long-term homeowners and land banking as a strategy for creating affordable housing. Rochelle has said she’s in support of reforming community engagement to include outreach to residents without access to a computer or who are unable to attend daytime meetings like those held by city boards and commissions.

Joshua Bradley

Filed July 1, 2022

Bradley, the assistant membership chair of the NC Green Party and a member of the Ecosocialist Working Group for Socialist Party USA, ran to represent District A in 2019 but lost to Patrick Buffkin. Bradley has been an activist against financial inequality, protesting with Occupy Raleigh and working with the Triangle People’s Assembly. He’s a proponent of worker’s rights, supporting living wages and increased benefits. 

Bradley aims to create a progressive property tax to fund low-cost housing and halt rezonings that don’t include affordable housing. He is also a supporter of CACs, planning to restore them and encourage the creation of tenants’ unions. Bradley says he wants to boost racial justice by investing in free public transportation, expanded public health services, community-controlled policing, and de-escalation and mental health training. He also plans to strengthen the city’s non-discrimination ordinance and create buffer zones around abortion clinics. Bradley has pledged to make Raleigh carbon neutral by 2030.

Anne Franklin

Filed July 8, 2022

Franklin, a longtime Raleigh resident, previously served on the city council from 1987 to 1993, for three terms in an at-large seat. She then ran for mayor before ultimately losing to Tom Fetzer. Franklin currently serves on the Legacy Committee for the Dix Park Conservancy and is the interim chair of Partners for Environmental Justice, a group of residents working to protect the environment in vulnerable neighborhoods of Southeast Raleigh, near Walnut Creek.

During her time on the city council, Franklin helped launch the city’s recycling program, create a bicycle task force to include bikes in infrastructure planning, worked to secure funding for the arts, added a clause to city contracts that forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation, and helped pass the first affordable housing bond. She’s also a proponent of public transportation, having lobbied for dedicated state and county funding for transit. Franklin says her experience and community connections will help her get things done.

John Odom

Filed July 13, 2022

John Odom, a 75-year-old former Republican who was first elected to the council in 1993, is again running for office. He served 14 years before losing his District B seat to David Cox in 2015. Odom changed his political affiliation to unaffiliated in 2017 for a rematch against Cox. He has said he wants to raise police pay, maintain the city’s infrastructure, and keep the finances frugal.   

District A

Mary Black-Branch

Filed July 8, 2022

Black, the youngest member of the city’s Environmental Advisory Board, works as a climate justice education manager with the Chisholm Legacy Project. As an environmental activist, Black works toward “climate justice” by educating people about the intersections of race, climate, and community. One of her priorities is to mitigate the effects of increased flooding and heatwaves as Raleigh sees the effects of climate change. 

Black says the key to creating a sustainable city is addressing housing, infrastructure, and environmental justice. She has criticized the current city council for their lack of community engagement and closed-door meetings. Black’s priorities include creating affordable housing and economic opportunities for Raleigh’s most vulnerable residents, she says, including low-income households, communities of color, and formerly incarcerated people. 

Cat Lawson

Filed July 6, 2022

Lawson, previously an attorney at Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein, currently works as a professor at the Duke University School of Law. She says the city council should prioritize “community partnerships, sustainable growth, and good governance.” If elected, Lawson pledges to enact ethics reforms for council members (such as disclosing their financial interests) and modernize the city council by adding a sixth district seat and creating an independent redistricting commission.

Lawson has also pledged to raise pay for police, firefighters, and EMTs, as well as establish the “necessary oversight, accountability, and training.” Lawson plans to continue the current council’s trajectory by encouraging residential density and more entry-level and missing middle options. She wants to strengthen the city’s infrastructure to withstand climate change and create an expanded greenway system. Lawson supports the new Board of Community Engagement.

Whitney Hill

Filed July 1, 2022

Hill, an IT software consultant and web marketing manager, founded several small businesses before landing at Bankcard Associates, where he now works as the Director of Partner Development. Hill’s priorities include safety and crime reduction, namely by raising police pay and encouraging community alert systems. He writes on his website that “the city should respond with police protection when businesses are threatened with damage,” perhaps referring to the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests in downtown Raleigh. 

Hill also wants to invest in park maintenance and support small businesses. He pledges to keep taxes low and make developers “pay their fair share.” He says he supports “controlled growth” in Raleigh to keep housing costs low. 

District B 

Minu Lee

Filed July 1, 2022

Lee, 21, is a senior at NC State University who will earn his bachelor’s degree in Political Science this fall. He currently serves on the Raleigh Civil Service Commission and works as a substitute teacher and guardian ad litem. Since announcing his candidacy in September, Lee has raised more than $30,000 in campaign donations, he wrote in a news release. 

If elected, Lee plans to tackle the housing shortage, the increase in traffic, and the “withering small business economy,” he says. He plans to support transportation options such as bikes, city buses, and light rail. Lee also wants to make Raleigh carbon neutral by 2050 by reducing the need for cars, incentivizing green developments, promoting landscape restoration, and improving bus routes. 

Zainab Baloch

Filed July 8, 2022

Baloch is again trying for office after running for an at-large seat in 2017 and mayor in 2019. She came in fourth in the mayoral race out of six candidates. Baloch is the founder of Young Americans Protest, an advocacy organization working to engage young people in politics. She has criticized the city council’s actions around public comments and political protestors, calling them anti-democratic. She is also the first Muslim to run for the city council and mayor. 

Frank Pierce

Filed July 15 2022

Pierce, a teacher and small business owner, ran for NC House District 66 in May, ultimately losing the Democratic nomination to Sarah Crawford. He came in third place, getting 7.6 percent of the vote to Crawford’s 47 percent and Wesley Knotts’s 45 percent. Now, it seems Pierce is tossing his hat in the ring for a city council seat in a return to local politics. During his previous campaign, Pierce talked about protecting abortion rights, investing in affordable housing, and advocating for a living wage for North Carolina workers. 

Megan Patton

Filed July 13, 2022

Patton is a former teacher and food service worker who is now employed as a customer service manager for a local digital printing company. She is a member of Moms Demand Action, a grassroots group lobbying to end gun violence, as well as her PTA and local home owner’s association. Patton’s priorities include preventing gun violence and creating buffer zones around abortion clinics, she wrote in an email.

Patton says she is running to secure a “safe and sustainable future” for Raleigh residents. She plans to create housing stability by “hold(ing) developers accountable.” Patton adds that housing should be available for people at all income levels and be resilient in the face of climate change. She also plans to “restore public trust” in the council by “conducting business out in the open and doubling down on community engagement.” Patton says she knows how hard it can be for working parents to attend city council meetings, so she wants to reach people where they are. 

Jakob Lorberblatt

Filed July 15, 2022

Lorberblatt, a computer engineer and software consultant, says on his website that he never planned to go into politics, but “felt a need to help us figure out what happens to this city under the pressure of growth and the many unavoidable challenges.” His priorities include community safety; protecting and promoting farms and small businesses; and creating housing affordability, availability, and access. Lorberblatt adds that the city needs effective public transportation options. 

District C

Corey Branch (incumbent)

Filed July 5, 2022

Branch was first elected to the city council in 2015 and served as Mayor Pro Tem from 2018-2021. He currently works as a service delivery manager with Kryndryl. During his time on the city council, Branch has promoted affordable housing, public transportation, economic opportunities for underserved communities, and youth development programs. He led the effort to secure city funding for Advance Community Health and organized community conversations between citizens and Raleigh Police Department known as “Barbershop Talks.” Branch also worked on the proposal for the Bus Rapid Transit system and helped widen Rock Quarry Road. 

Wanda Hunter

Filed July 8, 2022

Hunter, a community activist, works as a finance manager for Blueprint NC, a nonpartisan organization working to advance social justice. Hunter has also volunteered for organizations that help train potential workers and present them with job opportunities. As a volunteer, she helped people assess what careers might be right for them and improve their job interview and financial literacy skills. She previously ran for the District C seat in 2019, but lost to Corey Branch.

Hunter wants to create a full department for issues of equity, diversity and inclusion; require employees to attend antiracism training; and have city staff evaluate gender equity and racial wealth and health gaps. She is also in favor of giving a police review board investigatory, subpoena, and disciplinary powers to hold officers accountable. Hunter says she plans to address the lack of affordable housing, issues elder residents face, and unfair housing practices. She supports improving transit and making infrastructure resilient in the face of climate change. 

Frank Fields

Fields, an operations coordinator for Wake Tech Community College, is a longtime Raleigh resident and graduate of N.C. State University. He’s been involved in several community programs, including leading an eight-week college prep course for inner-city kids, directing a literacy program, and volunteering at the Wake County Correctional Center as a mentor to inmates. He and his wife Raquelle also own and operate a local car detailing business. 

If elected to the city council, Fields plans to prioritize evidence-based solutions, social equity, accountability, and community outreach, he writes on his website. Fields wants to increase access to employment by improving of Raleigh’s public transportation, support affordable housing, and increase investment in education, he says. Fields also supports Raleigh’s parks and recreation programs and wants to revitalize natural spaces. 

District D

Jane Harrison

Filed July 1, 2022

Harrison works as a coastal economics specialist for North Carolina Sea Grant, a research institution led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and based at NC State University. Researchers there study the relationship between the coastal economy and the environment, looking at strategies for things like preserving the coastline and keeping fishing sustainable. 

Harrison is a strong environmentalist and proponent of CACs when it comes to development. She serves as the co-chair of the West Raleigh Community Advocacy Council and has pledged to engage the community and “champion residents’ voices.” 

Jennifer Truman

Filed July 1, 2022

Truman, an architectural designer, also serves on the Raleigh Transit Authority, which makes recommendations about the city’s bus system. She’s a strong advocate for transit improvements, including the proposed bus rapid transit lines, expanded bus service and more bike lanes and sidewalks. Truman also co-leads the Southwest Raleigh Community Engagement forum, helping facilitate discussions with residents about development around Dix Park, Lake Wheeler Road, and other areas.  

Truman plans to encourage residential density downtown and along transit corridors, fund more affordable housing, and incentivize developers to build mixed-use, community-oriented projects. She says the city council should “adjust the police budget to meet community needs,” pay city employees fairly, and prioritize public transportation and urban agriculture. 

Todd Kennedy

Filed July 8, 2022

Kennedy, an environmental consultant, has served on several city boards including the Human Relations Commission and Environmental Advisory Board. He was one of the top five candidates considered for an appointment to represent District D, but the position eventually went to Stormie Forte. 

Kennedy proposes implementing property tax relief for low- to moderate-income residents, strengthening the city’s partnership with the Raleigh Area Land Trust, and incentivizing developers to build affordable housing units. In the recent controversy over police pay, Kennedy says he would have supported further raising pay for law enforcement officers. He also advocates for expanding the ACORNS crisis intervention unit citywide, he says. Kennedy supports the renovation of Dorothea Dix Park and says he wants to increase the resiliency of stormwater infrastructure as the city sees the effects of climate change.

Rob Baumgart

Filed July 14, 2022

Baumgart, a real estate investor, has renovated and managed multiple properties across Raleigh in the past decade. His success stems from making “thoughtful long-term investments,” he writes on his website. If elected, Baumgart plans to continue planning for the long term, voting to keep Raleigh “a desirable place to call home,” he says. Baumgart adds he is a supporter of accessory dwelling units, cottage court developments, and increasing the supply of homes as strategies to create affordable housing. He wants to partner with property owners in the effort. 

Baumgart’s priorities also include public transportation, which he hopes will connect Dix Park and Downtown South to central Raleigh and N.C. State University. Baumgart supports the Raleigh Aerial Cableway. Baumgart also supports the park bond and wants to promote “tourism and quality of life” in Raleigh. 

District E 

David Knight (incumbent)

Filed July 13, 2022

Knight was elected to the city council in 2019 after serving on Raleigh’s Parks, Recreation, and Greenway Advisory Board and chair of the Raleigh Water Conservation Task Force. He works as an environmental lobbyist, consultant, and attorney at Latham & Wood. During Knight’s time on the city council, he voted in favor of small businesses, dedicated bus and bike lanes, expansion of greenways, and an increase in residential density along public transit routes.

Addressing climate change has been one of his priorities—he aims to make Raleigh the most “solar-friendly” city in the US and supports the renovation of Dix Park. More recently, Knight pushed forward the dangerous wild animal ordinance and voted in favor of raising police pay, calling the comments of Refund Raleigh protestors “egregious” and “inappropriate.” 

Christina Jones

Filed July 1, 2022

Jones, a substitute teacher, is also the current and longest-serving chairwoman of Raleigh’s Citizens Advisory Council and is campaigning to restore communication between council members and residents. Since CACs were disbanded, she’s done a lot of work to increase citizen engagement. Jones said in a news release, “I have watched as our voices have been cut out of the equation over the last 3 years. Developers seem to have every seat at the table, and we need to clear some room for the community.”  

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that John Odom was formerly registered as Republican; he is currently unaffiliated. Also, city and boards commissions meet during the day time. CACs generally meet in the evening (or did before they were disbanded). 

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