On October 9th, Raleigh residents will have an opportunity to weigh in on the two at-large City Council seats. There are currently six candidates in the race. Each believes they will best represent the needs of the fast-growing capital city. In the first of this series, I sat down with candidate Mary Ann Baldwin.
“Communication,” Baldwin said, is why she is running when I asked what motivated her to seek a seat on the City Council. She offered to take a stroll from her downtown office after work to grab a cup of coffee at nearby Morning Times and share some of her thoughts on the issues voters will face in the October election. She said there needed to be greater communication between city and state officials as well as an open conversation with the citizens of Raleigh.
Baldwin cited one of the most glaring examples of the need for improved communication as the recent zoning law passed in near secrecy by the General Assembly (by one of Wake’s own legislators!) that barred the city from zoning property within a certain footage of state property. How could this have crept up on the city council? Wasn’t the one who proposed the measure in the Senate one of the City Council’s own?
Mary Ann Baldwin is like many of Raleigh’s residents: a new-comer. She hails from both New York and Rhode Island, and along with her husband and daughter relocated to North Raleigh almost a decade ago. Not enjoying the commute to her job as Director of Marketing at Stewart Engineering (she is in full support of a multi-modal transit hub), the family relocated downtown. Baldwin’s commitment to developing downtown is far more than a slogan, it’s a commitment she lives with everyday.
I asked Baldwin her feelings on the removal of certain cultural icons of downtown Raleigh (read: King’s Barricade) to make way for executive suites and high dollar high-rises and if there was any room for balance between development and maintaining a cultural identity. She said there was and praises some of the local developers for not practicing a model of development similar to cities, where entire populations and businesses were shoved aside, examples included Progress Energy’s insistence that Clyde Cooper’s BBQ remain on Davie Street, and Greg Hatem’s respect of the African American character and contributions of the businesses on Wilmington and Hargett Streets.
She heaped praise on the youth involvement in the development of city, she said beyond encouraging an expanding nightlife, they were “creative minds bringing energy and excitement through festivals and the arts”. Baldwin included the upcoming multi-faceted SPARKCON in her estimate and said of the artists: “They’re doing things I could never think of, and I think it’s great!” No stranger to the scene, she served many years on the board of Raleigh’s annual Artsplosure.
My conversation with Mary Ann Baldwin was a positive one, and I believe she represents much in the changing character of our fair city. She will bring fresh ideas to the debate and if she wins, to the proverbial table.