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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thomas Farr and the Radical Remaking of the Federal Judiciary

Posted By on Thu, Nov 16, 2017 at 9:15 AM

Last night, the INDY’s Thomas Goldsmith reported that Thomas Farr, the longtime North Carolina Republican lawyer who is now President Trump’s nominee for the federal bench, appears to have lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Raleigh lawyer Thomas Farr, a nominee for a federal judgeship, knew well in advance about a controversial 1990 postcard campaign designed by Republicans to intimidate blacks who wanted to vote, according to a former Department of Justice investigator. The statements made this week by Gerald Hebert, a federal attorney in 1990, directly contradict Farr's sworn testimony in September before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that...

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Fine, Let’s Talk About the Dumb Raleigh Christmas Parade Fight

Posted By on Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 9:23 AM

WRAL VS. THE GRMA, AND NOBODY WINS. I’ve been reticent to weigh in on the ongoing dispute over the downtown Raleigh Christmas parade, simply because I have a hard time getting worked up over these things. But now that the grievances have reached something of a fever pitch, here we are. The backstory: Last month, WRAL lost its longtime contract to sponsor the Christmas parade to its rival WTVD. But then WRAL announced that it was going to broadcast Saturday’s parade anyway. To the Greater Raleigh Merchants Association, which puts on the parade, this lowers the value of future...

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Raleigh City Council Shoots Down Backyard Cottages—At Least for Now

Posted By on Wed, Nov 8, 2017 at 3:59 PM

Outgoing Raleigh City Council member Mary-Ann Baldwin suggested Wednesday that the city move quickly to give all residents the right to build backyard cottages—the subject of a piece in this week’s INDY—hoping to gain approval for a cause to which she has given her passionate support. But the council, rarely known to move hastily, beat back the request on a 5–3 vote, leaving the backyard cottage ordinance in a council committee, where it's sat since July. Mayor Nancy McFarlane and outgoing council member Bonner Gaylord agreed with Baldwin that the ordinance should be pulled from the growth and natural resources committee...

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Nancy McFarlane Cruises to Fourth Term as Raleigh Mayor

Posted By on Tue, Nov 7, 2017 at 10:54 PM

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane scored a convincing victory to earn a fourth term Tuesday, despite an all-out challenge from political newcomer Charles Francis, a Democrat. Unofficial Wake County Board of Elections totals with all 108 precincts reporting gave McFarlane 58 percent of the vote, with 42 percent going to Francis. Her totals and lead were far more commanding than in the October 10 primary, where she scored about 48 percent of the vote. The percentage won in October by GOP challenger Paul Fitts apparently did not swing to Francis as he and some Republicans had hoped. At a campaign celebration in downtown...

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It’s Election Day in Raleigh and Durham. Here’s What You Should Know.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 7, 2017 at 9:03 AM

THE GIST: In Wake and Orange counties and the city of Durham, voters—if history is a guide, not all that many of them—will go to polls and chart the futures of their respective municipal governments. The marquee races are in Raleigh (mayor) and Durham (mayor, city council). In Raleigh, an increasingly vituperative campaign has culminated in challenger Charles Francis attacking Mayor Nancy McFarlane for overlooking the city’s poorest residents while the rest of Raleigh thrived, and McFarlane hitting Francis for speaking to the local Republican Party and taking money from antigay bigots. McFarlane outperformed Francis by twelve points in October...

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Thursday, November 2, 2017

Downtown Raleigh Association Names Kristopher Larson as President and CEO

Posted By on Thu, Nov 2, 2017 at 3:53 PM

Kristopher Larson, the chief executive officer of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., in Michigan, will return to Raleigh to become president and CEO of the nonprofit Downtown Raleigh Association. The DRA announced Thursday afternoon that Larson would take the position in January. Former News & Observer publisher Orage Quarles III has held the post on an interim basis since March 1. Larson previously worked as DRA's deputy director in 2004–07, then took a position as senior planner for the Raleigh Urban Design Center, from 2007–09. Before affiliating with the Grand Rapids association, where he helped advance public and private development, he served...

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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Meeting on Community Engagement Board Focuses on Talks from NCSU Profs

Posted By on Tue, Oct 31, 2017 at 3:33 PM

A Monday Raleigh City Council meeting aimed at starting to define Raleigh's new Community Engagement Board relied on mostly general presentations from two N.C. State professors, with some Raleigh-specific discussion and response from members. The concept of a Community Engagement Board passed on a 5–3 vote during a May 2 council meeting, but many details remained up in the air afterward. Raleigh residents, including members of Raleigh's venerable citizen advisory committees, saw the new board as diminishing their decades-old role in helping the city council make decisions on zoning and other matters. Council member David Cox, who came to public office on the...

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Raleigh Mayoral Candidate Francis Received $20,600 in Donations from Antigay Former Senator Fred J. Smith, Smith's Wife, and Two of His Sons

Posted By on Wed, Oct 25, 2017 at 1:16 PM

Charles Francis, Democratic candidate for mayor in a November 7 runoff, has received a total of $20,600 in donations from former Republican state Senator Fred J. Smith, Smith's wife and two of his sons, campaign records show. In an interview, Francis strongly disputed the relevance of the funds, which amounted to about 10 percent of his total donations from individuals. Fred J. Smith has become part of a campaign controversy because he was a supporter of the 2012 anti-same-sex-marriage Amendment 1. The donations from the Smith family arose from Francis’s longtime business association with Fred Smith, with whom he helped...

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Dueling Endorsements Try to Sway Voters in Raleigh's Mayoral Runoff

Posted By on Tue, Oct 24, 2017 at 2:57 PM

Endorsements in this year's Raleigh mayoral elections have been crossing paths all over the electoral map, because of an unusual blend of partisan loyalties and unexpected twists. In the first round of balloting October 10, Democratic voters turned out both for unaffiliated incumbent Nancy McFarlane and Democratic challenger Charles Francis. In three previous successful runs for mayor, McFarlane had no significant Democratic opposition, allowing her to attract voters from both parties. It’s officially a nonpartisan race, but the leadership of the Wake County Democratic Party endorsed Francis in July as the party’s only candidate in the mayor’s race. The state party...

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Raleigh Mayoral Candidates McFarlane, Francis Work to Score Points in Debate Leading to November 7 Runoff

Posted By on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 8:00 PM

Like high-stakes gamblers in a pivotal game, Mayor Nancy McFarlane and challenger Charles Francis sat across from each other Friday and worked to make the most of the cards they were dealt. The mayoral candidates were playing the odds that they could reach voters in the Nov. 7 election with persuasive answers to questions posed by Spectrum News anchor Tim Boyum In a lightning round of sorts—the debate only lasted 30 minutes—three-term incumbent McFarlane pushed her experience in government and business, while Francis pledged to operate the city more efficiently and to take more vigorous steps to reach some of...

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Most Raleigh City Council Members Reluctant to Endorse Either Candidate in Mayoral Runoff

Posted By on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 7:15 AM

We asked the seven Raleigh City Council members who will take office in December whom they're backing in the November 7 mayoral runoff. Only two would give a definitive answer. Members Corey Branch, Russ Stephenson, Kay Crowder, and David Cox, all incumbents who earned new terms, chose not to make public their pick in the runoff between incumbent Mayor Nancy McFarlane and challenger Charles Francis. Newcomer Nicole Stewart joined them. Mostly, all maintained that the city will thrive in either instance. Dickie Thompson says he is supporting three-term incumbent McFarlane. And newcomer Stefanie Mendell supports Francis. McFarlane won the...

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Raleigh Mayoral Rivals Nancy McFarlane, Charles Francis to Tape Debate That Will Air Friday and Sunday

Posted By on Wed, Oct 18, 2017 at 6:23 PM

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane and Democratic challenger Charles Francis will tape a debate on Friday afternoon to be aired by Spectrum News. The debate will have no live audience, but will air at seven thirty p.m. Friday and ten p.m. Sunday, the station said. "Spectrum News is committed to hosting a televised debate for the Raleigh's mayor's race," Spectrum assistant news director Walter Campbell wrote McFarlane during discussions on the program. McFarlane, who is unaffiliated politically, ran some thirteen percentage points ahead of Francis in the October 10 balloting but failed to reach the majority needed to avoid a runoff. Francis, a...

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

McFarlane Bashes Francis for Speaking to Wake GOP Meeting, Links Him With Trump

Posted By on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 at 12:28 PM

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane lashed out Tuesday against electoral challenger Charles Francis, associating him with “Donald Trump and his America First policies” after Francis spoke to a Wake County Republican Party meeting Monday night. Francis responded that he's a proud Democrat who wants to reach out to voters all over Raleigh. McFarlane, who is politically unaffiliated, faces Democrat Francis in a November 7 runoff following an October 10 election in which she garnered 48.45 percent of the vote to Francis's 36.67 percent. The officially nonpartisan race has seen both Francis and McFarlane receive campaign donations from high-profile Republicans and Democrats....

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Mayoral Candidates Nancy McFarlane, Charles Francis Trade Barbs as Race to November 7 Runoff Begins

Posted By on Mon, Oct 16, 2017 at 3:52 PM

Raleigh, get ready, for the train of speeches. Democratic candidate Charles Francis's request for a November 7 runoff against Nancy McFarlane in Raleigh's mayoral race kicks off another round of rhetoric, door-knocking, fundraising, and, very likely, a sharper new tone. Francis, a banker and lawyer, came out punching from the day in July when he filed to run, calling McFarlane "aloof" and disconnected from many parts of Raleigh. McFarlane, a three-term incumbent, mostly kept the gloves on during the campaign, but that started to change by election night. She almost reached the vote count needed to avoid a runoff,...

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Friday, October 13, 2017

How the Legislature Screwed Up Raleigh’s Runoff Elections

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 4:29 PM

Under state law, Raleigh mayoral candidate Charles Francis has until noon Thursday, October 19, to decide whether to request a runoff against incumbent Nancy McFarlane. Under a different state law, however, early voting for the November 8 election is scheduled to start Thursday morning—before Francis has to actually make a decision—which would seem to make the balloting process somewhat difficult. (Francis says he’ll make an announcement Monday, so perhaps the Board of Elections will be off the hook.) The whole snafu originated with ongoing efforts by state legislators to make it more difficult for black people to vote, according to...

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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...

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Mayoral Challenger Charles Francis Among Three Raleigh Candidates Undecided About Runoff

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 7:08 PM

Raleigh mayoral candidate Charles Francis said Wednesday that he wants to check with supporters and see final vote tallies before he makes a call on a runoff with incumbent Mayor Nancy McFarlane. In addition, city council candidates Bonner Gaylord and Stacy Miller had not made decisions by Wednesday afternoon on whether to ask for runoffs in their races. Because of a quirk in state law, State Board of Elections officials were urging candidates across North Carolina to decide quickly on whether to request runoffs. McFarlane, an unaffiliated politician, outpolled Francis, a Democrat, by more than six thousand votes but would...

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Stefanie Mendell Outpolls Bonner Gaylord in Raleigh City Council District E; Result Leaves Room for Runoff

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 6:54 AM

In a surprising political development, District E incumbent Bonner Gaylord was outpolled in the North Hills district by challenger Stefanie Mendell, who promised voters she would bring a better balance between strong neighborhoods and development. Neither candidate got the majority of votes cast needed to avoid a runoff. Mendell, in her first run at electoral politics, had 49.67 percent of the vote with all precincts in and Gaylord had 44.93 percent. Raleigh native Gaylord has served four terms on the council, becoming a reliable presence and a frequent ally of Mayor Nancy McFarlane. He was criticized in some quarters for his...

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Runoff for Raleigh Mayor's Post May Be Ahead as Francis Denies McFarlane a Majority of Votes

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 12:04 AM

Nancy McFarlane needed to get 50 percent plus one of the sixty-thousand-plus voters in Tuesday's municipal elections to remain in the Raleigh mayor's office without the possibility of a runoff. However, a vigorous campaign by Democratic challenger Charles Francis won him enough votes to prevent an outright victory. Incumbent McFarlane bested Francis by more than six thousand votes but received 48.45 percent of the unofficial tally, with Francis earning nearly 37 percent, according to unofficial tallies. Francis told WRAL that he would live to fight another day, but at eleven thirty p.m. the McFarlane campaign had not heard directly from...

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

David Cox Outpolls John Odom in Fight For District B seat on Raleigh City Council

Posted By on Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 8:43 PM

Raleigh's District B saw one of the city's closest races in 2015, with political newcomer David Cox defeating veteran Raleigh figure John Odom by 261 votes. This year was an entirely different story, with Cox retaining his seat by taking about 68 percent of the vote, to Odom's 31 percent, with all precincts reporting. Cox made his reputation before the 2015 election by leading neighbors in the northeast region in successfully opposing a planned Publix grocery store development in the district. He has continued to stand for slow-growth causes and a continued presence for the citizen advisory committees that represent...

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Raleigh Mayoral Candidates Wind Up Campaigning, Count War Chests

Posted By on Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 5:36 PM

With the Raleigh mayoral and city council elections less than a week away, the candidates' money is on the table—at least all the coin we'll see until well after the October 10 election is over. But the campaigning isn’t over. Both major candidates will be out on the scene this weekend, with incumbent Mayor Nancy McFarlane making a stop from eleven a.m. until noon Saturday at Read With Me, a children’s bookstore and art shop at 111 East Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh. “This month we get to hear the true story of how our Mayor Nancy McFarlane traveled to the home of...

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Muslim Raleigh City Council Candidate Zainab Baloch Says Defacement of Her Sign Won't Stop Her Campaign

Posted By on Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 12:55 PM

Zainab Baloch, a candidate for a Raleigh City Council at-large post, says her campaign will stand firm against the hateful rhetoric with which vandals apparently defaced her campaign sign on Louisburg Road. Baloch, a Muslim, learned today that a large wooden sign had been painted over with a crude swastika, a racial reference, and the word "Trump." Baloch, a state employee and UNC-Chapel Hill graduate student, is running along with six other candidates for two of the council's at-large seats in October 10 elections.  The candidate's parents immigrated from Pakistan and she grew up in Raleigh. "This will not stop...

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Raleigh City Council Members Agree to Meet October 30 on New Community Engagement Board

Posted By on Wed, Oct 4, 2017 at 3:43 PM

Raleigh City Council members agreed Tuesday to start discussion on a new community engagement board in an October 30 meeting that will occur almost six months after the panel's creation. But even setting the day for the meeting didn't happen without a scuffle. At-large member Russ Stephenson suggested delaying the meeting until the members who are elected in the October 10 municipal balloting can take part. That date would have left out the other at-large member, Mary-Ann Baldwin, who has decided not run for her seat again. "Oh, no," Baldwin said in a "don't-try-it" tone. "I've invested too much time in...

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Monday, October 2, 2017

Raleigh Mayor's Race: McFarlane Lends Her Campaign $50K; Francis Discloses New Donations, Spending

Posted By on Mon, Oct 2, 2017 at 7:55 PM

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane has lent $50,000 to her campaign to return to office, according to a campaign finance document filed Monday with the Wake County Board of Elections. Meanwhile, her opponent, Democratic lawyer Charles Francis, also made public beefed-up donations and spending. The loan to the Nancy McFarlane Committee was made on Sept. 19, according to the disclosure document. McFarlane, an unaffiliated politician, has raised $119,382.28 for this election as of Aug. 29 and had $61,955.27 on hand, according to document filings. Francis has raised $231,264.69 and has $67,805 on hand, having spent $163,458.80. He did not immediately return...

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Former Gov. Jim Hunt Endorses Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane for Re-election

Posted By on Wed, Sep 27, 2017 at 1:59 PM

Four-term North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt on Wednesday endorsed Nancy McFarlane for another term as Raleigh mayor in ahead of the October 10 municipal elections. Hunt, eighty, served as governor from 1977–85 and again from 1993–2001. One of the state's most prominent Democrats, Hunt is speaking out for McFarlane, a politically unaffiliated figure running against Raleigh attorney Charles Francis, who won the endorsement of the Wake County Democratic Party. In a statement sent out by McFarlane's organization, Hunt cited McFarlane's ten years in city government—four as a city council member and six as mayor—including her work in arranging for Raleigh's purchase...

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