Local Politics

Raleigh mayor's race likely headed to runoff

Posted October 10, 2017 7:41 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 1:40 p.m. EDT

— Mayor Nancy McFarlane wasn't able to capture a majority of votes Tuesday in her bid for a fourth term leading Raleigh, meaning she will face her first runoff.

With all precincts reporting, McFarlane had 48.45 percent of the vote. Attorney Charles Francis, who was backed by the Wake County Democratic Party, was in second with 36.67 percent, and mortgage lender Charles Fitts, who had the support of the Wake County Republican Party, was a distant third with 14.76 percent, according to unofficial results.

Francis said he is strongly considering asking for a runoff, which would be held Nov. 7.

"'Live to fight another day' is the quote of the day here," Francis told supporters.

"We really want to avoid a divisive runoff," McFarlane said. "Division and pitting the community against each other is just not Raleigh. It's not the way we do things."

Both Francis and Fitts said McFarlane hasn't provided needed leadership to Raleigh – Fitts cited what he called a lack of budget discipline, while Francis said parts of the city have been overlooked – but McFarlane campaigned on her experience, saying she was most qualified to lead Raleigh as it confronts challenges associated with growth.

"We're doing so many great things," she said, "but we really are experiencing this unprecedented growth, and it's all about planning – not just for now or the next few years, but really, what are we going to be in 10, 25, 50 years? We know we're going to have all these people moving here. How are we going to accommodate them? How are we going to preserve the quality of Raleigh?"

In Raleigh City Council races, incumbents Corey Branch, Kay Crowder, Dickie Thompson and David Cox easily won re-election, but four-term Councilman Bonner Gaylord trailed communications professional Stef Mendell 49.67 to 45 percent with all precincts reporting.

Councilman Russ Stephenson and environmental activist Nicole Stewart topped the seven-person field for the two at-large seats on the council. Stephenson finished with 28 percent, while Stewart had 23 percent, according to unofficial results. Attorney Stacy Miller was the next closest candidate with 16 percent.

About 15 percent of registered local voters cast ballots in the election.