Last Tuesday, residents of Raleigh went to the polls to vote on municipal candidates in a change election for the future of the city. At odds were the Council’s anti-growth incumbents who have dominated City Council for the last two years, and a wave of new pro-growth candidates. The issues were not only growth, but also equity, sustainability, and affordability. With two seats coming open with the retirements of Mayor Nancy McFarlane and Council Member Dickie Thompson, we decided there was a unique opportunity to get involved and hopefully make a positive difference in this election on behalf of our members.
At the end of the summer, members of the TAA-PAC Board of Trustees formed interview groups and collectively interviewed dozens of candidates for office in Raleigh (in addition to interviewing candidates in Cary, Durham, and Morrisville!). At the end of that process, the Board reviewed recommendations from these interview groups and settled on a slate of Mary-Ann Baldwin for Mayor, Nicole Stewart and Jonathan Melton for At-Large Councilor, and Patrick Buffkin, Brian Fitzsimmons, Corey Branch, Saige Martin, and David Knight for District Councilors.
On August 20, TAA-PAC publicly announced our endorsed candidates, becoming the first group to announce candidate endorsements in Raleigh. After an unprecedented year of fundraising, TAA-PAC also was in a position to donate more than $15,000 to our candidates, making us not only the first group to endorse but also one of the biggest! Over the next few weeks, many groups found value in the same candidates with our slate picking up endorsements everywhere from the Realtors to the Indy Week and the News & Observer.
At the same time that PAC began rolling out endorsements, the Board of the Triangle Government Alliance (TGA), TAA’s Super PAC, began putting together a campaign plan to help support our preferred candidates. The main focuses of the campaign were District B and District E, which were held by incumbents David Cox and Stef Mendell, but each of TAA’s eight endorsed candidates received some level of support from TGA with ads running that in some cases attacked the incumbents, while in other cases touted the records or platforms of our preferred candidates.
The Triangle Government Alliance has existed for nearly a decade, but has never played an active role in local campaigns. This year, the group made a strategic decision to participate, and actually was one of the largest campaign operations this cycle, trailing only a few of the Mayoral candidates in terms of total spending.
On Election night, five of the eight races were decided outright as candidates hit the threshold to avoid runoffs. In the At-Large race, Nicole Stewart won outright, and in the District races, Patrick Buffkin, David Cox, Corey Branch, and David Knight won outright. Mary-Ann Baldwin, Jonathan Melton, and Saige Martin all won the most votes in their respective races but did not cross the threshold to avoid runoffs. However, last Friday, all three of their opponents announced they would not ask for runoffs, and this election cycle came to an unexpected and early end. Seven of our eight endorsed candidates won their races and the Raleigh City Council that begins work in December will be a decidedly pro-growth group.
Traditionally, TAA has not been a big player in local elections, but this year, we played a huge supporting role, and that would not have been possible without all of your support. Thank you to everyone who has donated to the TAA-PAC and to the Triangle Government Alliance—it was your contributions that put us in a position to achieve real change in this election and we are truly grateful for your support!