Mayor Graphic 2019

Six individuals are running to be mayor of the city of Raleigh. All six mayoral candidates spoke with Technician to discuss their background, goals if elected and issues they want to tackle if they are elected into office.

The six candidates are Mary-Ann Baldwin, Zainab Baloch, Charles Francis, George Knott, Caroline Sullivan, Justin Sutton

Mary-Ann Baldwin 

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Baldwin, 62, has lived in Raleigh for three decades. She is a former city council member who served from 2007-17. She is also the co-founder of Innovate Raleigh, a nonprofit focused on connecting entrepreneurs to resources that will facilitate their growth. Baldwin is a registered Democrat. 

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the city of Raleigh today? 

“It’s housing affordability and housing choices. I worked with Wake Tech foundation, and one of the things that has been very interesting to me is the number of students who are homeless.”

Why do you want to be mayor?

“I think that I have the experience and the leadership to get the job done. I'm going to do it.”

Zainab Baloch 

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Baloch, 27, works at Even, a financial services company and is a Raleigh native. Baloch earned her master's degree in public administration from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2018. Baloch is also an activist and former Raleigh City Council candidate. Baloch is a registered Democrat.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the city of Raleigh today?

“Equitable, sustainable development. I think a lot of people mention affordable housing, but I believe that when you talk about affordable housing and you limit it to just housing, you don’t bring in the holistic aspect of how you look at it.”

Why do you want to be mayor?

“I come from a community organizing background. I care about where we’re going as a nation, as a country. I don’t see people like me or people with more morals and values speaking up and standing up against all the injustices happening right now, so I’m standing up to stand against those. I’m running because I am the closest to the median age of this city. I’m running because I can confidently say I have experience working with every single community in this city.” 

Charles Francis

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Francis, 56, is a Raleigh native. He currently practices as an attorney and is the founding director and vice chairman for North State Bank. In 1993, Francis was briefly a Raleigh City Council member and more recently ran against incumbent Nancy MacFarlane in the 2017 mayoral election. Francis is a registered Democrat.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the city of Raleigh today?

“I think the biggest single issue and what I want to stress the most in my leadership if I am mayor is housing. Like a lot of cities that are growing, Raleigh has a creeping affordability crisis. So what we need to do is to increase access to housing both for people to rent, and to buy at all different levels of affordability."

Why do you want to be mayor? 

“I want to be mayor so that more people in Raleigh have their opportunity to live the American dream and get their little piece of the American dream. Raleigh has been a very good place for some people to live, but we need to make it a better place for more people to live; for college students, for homeless people, low-income people, for people who are struggling to buy their first apartment, for people who need more green space, for people who need better transit, for people who are looking for more job opportunities. That’s why I want to do this.”

George Knott

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Knott, 41, is a Raleigh native. He is an upright bassist and has no prior history in politics. Knott is a registered Democrat.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the city of Raleigh today? 

“Raleigh’s definitely growing very fast, and a lot of that growth is encouraged by the city and the county. We have an innovation incentive where we pay companies to come. The problem is we are growing inorganically; we are growing faster than is naturally the way we should be growing. I didn’t hear anybody coming out and saying, 'We, the city, are creating the problem with affordable housing. We are creating the problem with homelessness. And we’re doing it all by encouraging growth.' People have pegged me as an anti-growth candidate. I’m not anti-growth, I just wish we would grow as a city organically.”

Why do you want to be mayor?

“I decided to run for mayor because I didn’t see anybody that was talking about the issues that I thought were important. I think it would be horrible to be mayor. I don’t want to be mayor. But slightly more is, I want somebody to be mayor that will talk about the issues, and if the people of Raleigh believe in me, I will certainly be the best mayor I can be, even though I don’t want it.”

Caroline Sullivan

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Sullivan, 53, has lived in Raleigh for 18 years. She earned her bachelor's degree from UNC-Chapel Hill. She has experience working as the senior adviser with the North Carolina Business Committee for Education. Sullivan served as the chair of Wake County Board of Commissioners, of the Budget, Audit and Finance Committee and of the Public Education Committee of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. Sullivan is a registered Democrat. 

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the city of Raleigh today? 

“I think the biggest issue that we have is growth. I don’t see it as a problem; I think whenever there is a problem, there is an opportunity. We are at a crossroads change, and we need to be intentional and plan for this growth. And underneath this growth bucket of things that the city needs to address is housing.”

Why do you want to be mayor?

“Different times call for different leaders, and here’s what I think about leadership too. I think your position gives you authority, your behavior gives you leadership, and the way I have always worked, it’s identifying a problem and figuring out how we can solve it together.”

Justin Sutton

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Sutton, 30, a Raleigh native, earned his bachelor's degree in political science from NC State. He earned his masters of public administration from North Carolina Central University. Sutton is currently a procurement attorney for the state. Sutton is registered unaffiliated. 

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the city of Raleigh today?

“Out of all of my platform points, I would dedicate or prioritize the top three being housing affordability, infrastructure management and stimulating local economic growth for small businesses and women-owned and minority-owned businesses.”

Why do you want to be mayor?

“I have a tremendous affection for Raleigh. Having grown up here, it’s the place that I call home. I believe that as a young leader, it is time for us to step up and take charge and lead in this city, and I want to be responsive to the needs of all, and I believe that our city has the responsibility to be receptive. I’m looking to take this plunge, and hopefully I can garner the support of our local base, students here in the city of Raleigh.”

Election Day is Tuesday, Oct. 8.