2019 Raleigh Local Election Report
There was no clear winner in several key Raleigh City Council races Tuesday night, setting the stage for a November run-off vote. Raleigh has non-partisan municipal elections in which all candidates run in the general election. This often leads to a run-off election as no candidate can receive 50% of the votes to win the race outright, and this election season was no different.
Regardless of the results of a run-off, local government will look significantly different next year as a lot of new faces come to the Mayor’s Office and Raleigh City Council. Including the mayor, there will be at least three, and possibly as many as five, new faces on the eight-member council.
The mayoral race produced no clear winner on Tuesday. Five-term Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane announced earlier this year that she would not seek re-election, leaving the office up for grabs. The race attracted six candidates – three of whom have extensive local government experience in Raleigh.
Mary-Ann Baldwin, a former city council member, was the clear front-runner on Tuesday, taking 38% of the vote. Charles Francis, another former city council member and an unsuccessful candidate for Mayor in 2017, came in second with 31% of the vote. Baldwin’s margin of victory was not enough to avoid a run-off. Francis is expected to call for a run-off election today.
Six people ran for two at-large city council seats. Because voters chose two candidates in this race, a candidate needed to receive 25% of the total votes to secure a spot outright rather than the 50% needed in other races. Incumbent Nicole Stewart won re-election outright by taking 34% of the vote. Jonathan Melton, a newcomer to city politics was the second-place finisher, but his 23% percent of the vote was just short of the amount needed to avoid a run-off. Incumbent Russ Stephenson was the third-place finisher with 19% of the vote.
Stephenson has the right to ask for a run-off in this race, but it’s not known yet whether he will do so. Stewart has served on the city council since 2017 while Stephenson has held his seat since 2005.
In District A, newcomer Patrick Buffkin took 53% of the vote in this two-person race to win his seat outright. This was an open seat as incumbent Dickie Thompson announced his retirement earlier this year.
Districts B, C
Incumbents David Cox and Corey Branch retained their seats in District B and District C respectively. Cox carried 54% of the vote in his two-person race while Branch carried 63% in his four-person race. Both Cox and Branch have served on the City Council since 2015.
The District D race could also be headed to a run-off. Newcomer Saige Martin took 47% of the vote in that race, narrowly missing the 50% threshold needed to avoid a run-off. Incumbent Kay Crowder took 33% of the vote in the four-person race. Crowder has held the seat since 2014 when she was appointed to fill the unexpired term of her late husband, Thomas Crowder.
In District E, newcomer David Knight defeated incumbent Stef Mendell by a vote of 69% to 30%. Mendell was serving her first term on the City Council.