Local Politics

With former councilman under investigation, Raleigh sets process to replace him

Posted June 30, 2020 4:47 a.m. EDT
Updated June 30, 2020 5:15 p.m. EDT

— Southwest Raleigh should have its new representative on the City Council in two weeks.

Saige Martin, who represented District D on the council, resigned from his position Friday after four current or former North Carolina State University students accused him of sexual assault. Martin worked as a teaching assistant at the university before he was elected last fall.

The City Council will begin accepting applications from interested candidates on Wednesday. Applicants must be at least 21 years old, registered to vote in Wake County and have been a resident of District D for at least 30 days.

All applications must be received by 4 p.m. July 10. The council plans to hold a virtual forum to question candidates at 3 p.m. July 12, and residents can submit questions to city officials during the application period that could be asked during the forum.

"I think it's important for people to kind of see and get to know who's applying," Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said during a special City Council meeting on Tuesday. "I think it's also important for all of us to see that before making a determination."

Council members will then select someone to fill the rest of Martin's two-year term at their July 14 meeting.

A petition is circulating to get former Councilwoman Kay Crowder back in the District D seat. Crowder, who lost to Martin last fall, said she's open to the idea and would commit to not seeking re-election in 2021.

"We have a lot of qualified, smart, passionate people in District D," Baldwin said, calling on everyone who lives in the area who's interested in public service to apply for the opening.

Martin's resignation came after an article in The News & Observer detailed stories from four people accusing Martin of actions ranging from lewd messages to assault.

N.C. State police don't have any record of the complaints.

"This has been a very difficult time for all of us," Baldwin said in her only comment Tuesday about the need for a new council member.

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman has asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look into the allegations against Martin.

"We have an interest in ensuring that this kind of conduct, when it occurs, is no longer occurring," Freeman said. "Since he held a position that was so public, I think it’s important that the public have some idea and ultimately know that this is something that is viable to move forward or not, or whether he could be exonerated."

She said she expects the SBI review to last a couple of weeks.

Freeman added that, "at a minimum," she wants to offer any needed resources to the accusers.

"First and foremost, we want those individuals to get the emotional support that they need when they’ve been through some type of an assault," she said. "We want people to understand and hopefully have some trust with the process. We want others who may have suffered sexual assault in the community to feel comfortable coming forward and sharing their stories with law enforcement."

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