Make Way for the NIMBY Raleigh City Council, as Newcomers Nicole Stewart and Stef Mendell Oust Bonner Gaylord and Defeat Stacy Miller | News
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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Make Way for the NIMBY Raleigh City Council, as Newcomers Nicole Stewart and Stef Mendell Oust Bonner Gaylord and Defeat Stacy Miller

Posted by on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 8:05 PM

OK, maybe it's a little strong, calling the new configuration of Raleigh's governing body the NIMBY City Council.

But with business-friendly incumbent Bonner Gaylord and well-funded challenger Stacy Miller deciding against runoffs for City Council seats Thursday, Raleigh can look forward to a panel replete with neighborhood advocates. They will include newcomers Nicole Stewart and Stef Mendell, as well as victorious incumbents Russ Stephenson, Kay Crowder and David Cox. 

Mayoral challenger Charles Francis's decision on whether to seek a runoff against Mayor Nancy McFarlane will be closely watched for its effect on the council to be sworn in December.

Gaylord and Stewart, the candidates who elected not to ask for runoffs, counseled against allowing too much partisanship to enter city council's working routine.
click to enlarge Stefanie Mendell
  • Stefanie Mendell


"I am afraid that calling for a runoff at this time wouldn't help build bridges," Gaylord said in a statement. "I fear that it would lead to more division at a time when we need to come together."

Francis, a business-friendly Democrat, must be weighing a possible future presiding over a growth-wary council as he decides whether to fight on now, or later.

Stewart, the development director of the N.C. Conservation Network, finished second in at-large race voting with about 23 percent of the vote. Because she did not receive 25 percent, Miller, a Raleigh lawyer, could have asked for a November 8 runoff.

"I am excited to have this new opportunity to give back to Raleigh in an even bigger way," Stewart said in a statement. "I'm thankful for all of the many volunteers and donors who played a role in our campaign and for all of the other At-Large candidates who care so much about our city."
Nicole Stewart
  • Nicole Stewart

Voters pick two at-large council members as well as select members by district. When veteran at-large member Mary-Ann Baldwin decided not to run this year, it opened up a chance for new at-large candidates. Six took the opportunity to run, in addition to the other at-large incumbent, Russ Stephenson, who won outright Tuesday.

Miller conceded Thursday afternoon to Stewart, who thanked him for "graciously declining" to request a runoff in her statement. Miller echoed Mayor Nancy McFarlane's concern that a runoff could feed a divisive atmosphere on an officially nonpartisan panel.

"After a great deal of consideration, I’ve decided not to participate in a  runoff," Miller said. "I ran as an unaffiliated candidate in an effort to bring our city together in a time of deep division in our country, and I believe that  participating in a city-wide runoff would divide our community further."

Gaylord, often looked at as a mayoral contender, may also have weighed his prospects as an isolated member of a board headed in another direction.

"I have always viewed my role as a listener and a non-partisan consensus builder, serving as a bridge
between the left and the right, the conservative and the progressive, newcomers to our city and those who have a long history here," Gaylord said.

Francis, McFarlane's challenger, said Wednesday that he is still assessing his supporters' wishes and the final election returns.

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