Raleigh mayor responds after challenger seeks runoff

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Charles Francis, who challenged three-term incumbent Mayor Nancy McFarlane in last Tuesday’s election, said Sunday that he would seek a runoff.

Voters will now head back to the polls on Nov. 7 to make the final decision between the two candidates.

During his news conference Sunday, Francis said that his runoff decision was not divisive, but was instead “democracy.”

McFarlane later released a statement in response to Francis’ runoff decision.

She said the runoff came with “encouragement from Republican Candidate Paul Fitts, and the Wake GOP Chair.” She also said those who encouraged the runoff “hope to divide those who share progressive values.”

Gary Sims the director of Wake County Board of Elections told CBS North Carolina that the estimated cost of a city-wide runoff is $570,000.

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Francis said that McFarlane’s vote totals have gone down in each of her three re-election campaigns and said that indicated “no confidence” in her.

Francis, a lawyer, spoke about affordable housing and promised better pay and benefits for Raleigh police and firefighters.

During the news conference, Francis spoke at length about affordable housing and derided a plan to spend $165 million on a new Raleigh city hall.

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He called the plan a “Taj Mahal city hall” that “unnecessary” because the current city hall was built in 1982.

In her response, McFarlane said that she was proud of her record and that the city had “dedicated more than $60 million over the next decade to affordable housing, more than any other (city) council in history.”

She also said “Mr. Francis has been long on misleading rhetoric and championing political labels, while offering nothing concrete in details.”

Francis also said that he would pursue a public debate with McFarlane in the coming weeks.

In Tuesday’s election, McFarlane received more than 48 percent of the vote, but she needed more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a possible runoff.

Francis received 36 percent of the vote.

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The third candidate, Fitts, received nearly 15 percent of the votes in the three-way race.

Here is the full statement from McFarlane:

Raleigh is a great city and through smart planning and hard work, we’re making it even better. This race provides a clear choice between solutions and partisanship, and will demonstrate that Raleigh voters value a record of accomplishment over political labels.

I’m proud of my record building a better, more sustainable, more vibrant Raleigh. This year, our Council dedicated more than $60 million over the next decade to affordable housing, more than any other Council in history. This Council has made housing affordability a priority and has committed increasing resources and staff time to address the issue.

We are currently expanding transit extensively, as well as building a new Union Station that will serve as an efficient hub for decades, and we’ll be utilizing the transportation bond that just passed overwhelmingly to address the issue of traffic. We have set a record in tourism for 3 years in a row, and have secured over $800 million in private investment that is creating jobs. We are protecting our clean air and watersheds; building green buildings and switching our entire fleet of vehicles to compressed gas produced from our landfill. We have added greenways and parks across Raleigh, and Dix Park will be an economic driver for generations to come. All while maintaining our AAA bond rating and keeping our costs of services to taxpayers amongst the lowest in the state. With our success comes challenges, and we are actively addressing them so that Raleigh’s growth creates a shared prosperity.

Mr. Francis has been long on misleading rhetoric and championing political labels, while offering nothing concrete in details. His record undercuts his own rhetoric. Unfortunately, after encouragement from Republican Candidate Paul Fitts, and the Wake GOP Chair, both of whom fervently support President Trump and hope to divide those who share progressive values, Mr. Francis has decided to call for a runoff that will further do just that. We will campaign hard in every part of our city. I debated Mr. Francis several times during the first round including several in SE. Raleigh, and one streamed by WRAL, and will welcome an opportunity to debate and correct his misstatements during this runoff. I look forward to continue speaking with voters about my record of public service and our city’s accomplishments, as well as my vision for our city where our growth and prosperity benefits all residents.

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