Local Politics

Candidate calls for runoff election, debate with Raleigh mayor

Posted October 15, 2017 4:22 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 9:55 a.m. EDT

— Mayoral candidate Charles Francis on Sunday announced he is requesting a runoff election with Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane.

McFarlane finished Tuesday's election with 48.5 percent of the 52,449 votes cast, while Francis garnered 36.7 percent and Paul Fitts had 14.8 percent. Because no candidate had a majority of the votes, Francis is allowed as the second-place finisher to call for a runoff between him and McFarlane.

“That result is clearly a vote of no confidence in the direction the city is heading under the mayor’s leadership,” Francis said at a Sunday afternoon press conference. “I’m calling for this runoff election because I want to lead people from all areas of Raleigh.”

Francis also challenged McFarlane to a televised debate ahead of the Nov. 7 runoff election. McFarlane said in a statement that she "will welcome an opportunity to debate and correct [Francis'] misstatements during this runoff."

"This race provides a clear choice between solutions and partisanship and will demonstrate that Raleigh voters value a record of accomplishment over political labels," McFarlane said in a statement Sunday afternoon. "Francis has been long on misleading rhetoric and championing political labels, while offering nothing concrete in details."

Francis and McFarlane stand opposite each other on many issues, including the future of Dix Park, where Francis chose to hold Sunday afternoon's press conference. Francis has family history in the area and said that while he supports the Dix Park planning process, it is coming at the expense of other areas.

"It is not acceptable to put all of our focus on Dix Park to the neglect of other parks," Francis said.

McFarlane said Dix Park has been one of her proudest moments as mayor.

"We have added greenways and parks across Raleigh and Dix Park will be an economic driver for generations to come," McFarlane said in a statement.

​Affordable housing has been a major point of contention during the race, with Francis calling the city's penny increase on property tax "too little, too late."

"What you're doing with that penny tax is it's not only inadequate to meet the needs, you're taking people, who themselves may be stretched for pinched, to pay for housing for other people who are having a difficult time," Francis said.

McFarlane has called the criticism unfair, pointing out the City Council's decision to dedicate $60 million to affordable housing over the next decade.

McFarlane said last week that she believes a runoff election could be divisive for the city, but Francis disputed that claime Sunday.

“A runoff campaign focused on issues is not divisive, it’s democracy,” he said.

Raleigh's last mayoral runoff was in 2001 when Charles Meeker narrowly defeated incumbent Paul Coble. Meeker then went on to serve five terms.