After four consecutive terms as Raleigh’s mayor, Nancy McFarlane is not seeking reelection, and the result is a six-way free-for-all. Five Democrats and one unaffiliated candidate are vying for McFarlane’s seat, and Technician spoke with all of them nearly a month ago. Now, Technician’s editorial staff has chosen to endorse Caroline Sullivan for Raleigh mayor.
Sullivan has a wider breadth of experience working in various positions for Wake County and for the state of North Carolina than any other candidate. She served on the Wake County Board of Commissioners from 2013-17 and was vice chair in 2015, chaired the Budget, Audit and Finance Committee and has chaired the Public Education Committee of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. Sullivan continues to further the interests of education around the state as senior adviser to the 501(c)(3) certified North Carolina Business Committee for Education.
Sullivan’s approach to Raleigh’s overwhelming growth is uniquely positive. Her platform highlights a sustainable approach to expansion that ensures all citizens are involved in the process of decision-making for safe and accessible growth. On her campaign website, Sullivan promises to create a new Office of Diversity & Inclusion, which would focus on issues such as closing the gender pay gap and helping people with disabilities obtain jobs.
Sullivan also wants to create more “work-based learning opportunities” for young people, such as apprenticeships, to help students in high school and college transition into the professional world. This is crucial with the state of the job market in a rapidly growing city; it’s not enough to just bring new businesses into Raleigh which need fresh hands. Sullivan also wants to support entrepreneurship and local business expansion, which would provide far more opportunities for upward mobility in the city’s youth population.
With such a population boom, issues naturally arise in transportation and housing. In Technician’s interview, all six candidates cited housing and the affordability of housing in particular in Raleigh as an ongoing problem. To address housing, Sullivan wants to create a permanent affordable housing commission for continuous planning and consideration. She stresses the protection of existing housing, both affordable units and long-term residences, alongside the construction of new “transit-oriented” communities in order to protect marginalized identities threatened by gentrification. Anticipating growth, she aims to establish new community benefits agreements for existing neighborhoods to ensure their residents aren’t displaced.
Sullivan was also on the Wake County Board of Commissioners when it developed the Wake County Transit Plan in 2016, approving a half-cent sales tax to fund a $2.3 billion effort over 10 years toward vastly improving the bus system and introducing a commuter rail line. Much of her safety efforts, such as increasing bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure, are focused around what she refers to as the “last mile,” the space between the bus stop and home.
While there is a noticeable absence of consideration in Sullivan’s platform for people of color or LGBTQ+ communities in Raleigh, Technician believes her efforts to support people with disabilities and avoid gentrification are good signs on these fronts. While she doesn’t cite POC or LGBTQ+ issues specifically, it is clear she is ready and willing to listen to any potential concerns should they arise. In Technician’s interview, Sullivan said about diversity, “The state has taken some hits lately,” and she isn’t wrong. However, she said, “Our strength in this city and in this country lies in our diversity and welcoming all people.”
Election Day is Tuesday, Oct. 8. Wake County citizens can find their polling places on WakeGov.com.
This unsigned editorial is the opinion of the members of Technician’s editorial board, and is the responsibility of the editor-in-chief.