Local Politics

Meeker handily wins fifth term as Raleigh mayor

Mayor Charles Meeker easily topped three political newcomers Tuesday to win his fifth two-year term leading Raleigh. Most incumbent City Council members also won.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Mayor Charles Meeker easily topped three political newcomers Tuesday to win his fifth two-year term leading Raleigh.

Meeker had 62 percent of the vote in unofficial results. Larry Hudson was second with 27 percent, followed by Mark Enloe with 7 percent and Gregg Kunz with 3 percent.

During his eight years as mayor, Meeker has helped revitalize downtown and build a new convention center. He also touts the expansion of city greenways as an accomplishment.

"I hadn't planned on serving this long. Certainly, five terms is a lot," Meeker said late Tuesday. "I look forward to this last term being the most productive, if we can."

He said during the recent campaign that he wanted to focus on leading Raleigh out of the nationwide recession by pursuing federal economic stimulus money for local projects.

"We're trying to get all the stimulus money we can from the federal government and spend that on important projects. Likewise, we need to keep our local capital projects moving," he said. "We were one of the last ones in (the recession); we need to be one of the first ones out."

Meeker said he also is looking at Raleigh's future, targeting projects like turning the Dorothea Dix Hospital campus south of downtown into a regional park and getting a transit system for the Triangle area running.

Meeker was unopposed two years ago, but Enloe, a database administrator, Hudson, an employment recruiter, and Kunz, a business executive and entrepreneur, said they felt Raleigh could do better with new leadership.

Kunz said he would continue working to improve the city, noting he plans to start a business incubation program next week.

Voter Greg Tart, who moved back to Raleigh two years ago after living elsewhere for 15 years, said Meeker was the clear choice to continue Raleigh's growth.

"Seeing where Raleigh is now, it's changed a lot in the 15 years since I've been away. Obviously, he's got something going in the right direction," Tart said.

In City Council races, former Councilman John Odom reclaimed his District B seat, while incumbents swept most other races.

Council members Mary-Ann Baldwin and Russ Stephenson each claimed at least a third of the votes for the two at-large seats on the council. Councilwoman Nancy McFarlane ran unopposed in District A, Councilman James West won more than 85 percent of the vote in District C and Councilman Thomas Crowder won about two-thirds of the votes in District D.

Odom upended Councilman Rodger Koopman by a 59 to 41 percent margin in unofficial results. In District E, where Councilman Philip Isley chose not to seek re-election, Bonner Gaylord took three-fourths of the votes to defeat Waheed Haq.

"We've got a great team here," Stephenson said. "It's fantastic working with Charles and the council for the next two years. There's so much ahead, that will be really fantastic."

West said the City Council needs to focus on economic development, improving safety in some local neighborhoods and strengthening programs for youth and families.

"Charles and I have worked hand in hand. He has a lot of ability," West said.