Political ad calls Raleigh 'DrunkTown,' sparks controversy
Posted September 30, 2015
Updated October 1, 2015
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.