Local Politics

Political ad calls Raleigh 'DrunkTown,' sparks controversy

Posted September 30, 2015
Updated October 1, 2015

— A controversial political ad painting downtown Raleigh as “Drunk Town” had people talking Wednesday night after it sparked a YouTube spoof and social media backlash.

A full page political ad, published in the News & Observer, features a picture of a man leaning on a lamp post and suggests that the city could become “Drunk Town.” Below the photo, the ad claims that City Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin, who is backed by bar and nightclub owners, is trying to reshape liquor laws in Raleigh.

“I just thought ‘wow, I can’t believe someone would do this”,” said Baldwin.

Baldwin said that her campaign donors do include a few downtown business owners but asserts that she is not turning the city into “Drunk Town.”

“This doesn’t help us build a better policy, it just enflames issues and forces people to take sides,” Baldwin said.

The ad targets the new Raleigh sidewalk ordinance that limits the times and places people can drink on downtown sidewalks. Baldwin says she is in favor of some guidelines, as long as they are not too heavy-handed.

“I want to make sure we are balanced,” said Baldwin.

Wake Citizens for Good Government is the group behind the “Drunk Town” ad.

In a statement, Citizens for Good Government chair Dean Debnam said that people want a bigger vision for Raleigh, “one that is looking out for our neighborhoods, planning for Raleigh’s growth, and making sure we have a great quality of life.”

Debnam is a campaign supporter of another Raleigh Council member, Russ Stephenson.

On Twitter, Stephenson denounced the “Drunk Town” ad. He called it unfortunate and inappropriate and said that it takes away from more important issues. Stephenson said that he was not aware of the ad before it was published. Other politicans spoke out against the ad on Twitter.

The “Drunk Town” ad made the rounds online, generating its own hashtag, and it was shared multiple times on social media.

“It was a joke to me, to call Raleigh ‘Drunk Town’,” said Raleigh bar owner Zack Medford.


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  • Sean Creasy Oct 1, 2015
    user avatar

    Typical bait and switch tactics that should be expected from the Raleigh counsel chamber. It started with "please, please come back to downtown so we can make it a "vibrant" area again", and then once he money started flowing in they stab the very people responsible for the revitalization in the back by passing ordinances and bans to cripple their businesses....

  • Mick Flynn Oct 1, 2015
    user avatar

    If the shoe fits .....

  • Jim Hugs Oct 1, 2015
    user avatar

    My son actually supports us becoming drunktown. He's a powerwasher, so vomit on the street is money in his pocket.

  • Dirk Snedly Oct 1, 2015
    user avatar

    Actually, the ad is fairly accurate in the depiction of downtown Raleigh as being overrun with drunks. The numbers of arrests for DUI, public intoxication, Assault and Affray, and other alcohol related offenses is quite substantial.

    Check it out on a Saturday or Sunday morning over at:

    WakeMugShots dot com

  • Nancy Eyre Oct 1, 2015
    user avatar

    But hey - wait - we have this covered right? Didn't they just approve a new DWI Task Force to monitor the downtown district? AND, with the plan to turn the streets to one ways on the weekends so people can get out of town easier, that should help things. Or maybe this is really a way for North Carolina to rake in more money on tDWI convictions? Okay, yes sarcasm is getting the best of me this morning. This has got to be the lowest of low for this area yet. No wait, the NC Legislature continuing to dream up ways to make the poor, poorer and the rich, richer is even lower. After 20 years living here, time to SERIOUSLY start thinking of moving. I can't afford to live here anymore and YES I HAVE A JOB! (well, I did until this post ... !) :)

  • Luke Pool Oct 1, 2015
    user avatar

    You say it like it's a bad thing. I vote for Guitar Town. I got the album. Or Moe Bandy's Here I am I'm Drunk Again.

  • Brian White Oct 1, 2015
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    How cute, Leo's twitter name is dtraleigh. Were all the good cities already taken? Also, you're over 30 years old...you shouldn't be dressing up for Halloween anymore. Don't be that guy.

  • Bobby Caudle Oct 1, 2015
    user avatar

    well it is!

  • Kenneth Brewer Oct 1, 2015
    user avatar

    I thought I recognized the name. The guy behind these ads is the same guy behind PPP that publishes all those wacky poll results. I guess he thinks he can shape the city and country to his close-minded vision with expensive crazy ads and questionable, obviously biased poll results.