Aug 4, 2022 - News

Mayor Baldwin: Growing housing choices is top priority

Photo illustration collage of Mary-Ann Baldwin with abstract shapes and the city of Raleigh.
Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin. Photo illustration: Maura Losch/Axios. Photo: Courtesy of the City of Raleigh.

Despite being snubbed by Wake County's Democratic Party, Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin feels confident in her chances of being re-elected, noting her large financial backing is proof of "a diversity of support."

Driving the news: Baldwin said her No. 1 priority for her second term in office would be affordability and expanding housing choices. The city will need to be creative and willing to change, she told Axios in an interview.

  • However, Baldwin faces multiple challengers vying to become the top elected official in the city, including Terrance Ruth, whom the Wake County Democrats endorsed.

What she's saying: "We are going to become more dense — that's just a fact," Baldwin said. "We are growing from a small city into a big city. People don’t like change, but we’re all going to have to face the fact that we’re going to be impacted by change."

Baldwin touts "gentle density" as one method for addressing that growth. By continuing to tweak zoning rules to allow more things like cottage courts, accessory units and townhomes in neighborhoods, she said, Raleigh can try to keep pace with growth.

  • But some parts of town can support higher density, she said, like "where I live, we look over at (Seaboard Station)."
  • "I support (growth there) because we need more housing, and we need more choices for people and we need more density," she said.
  • Baldwin also cited an $80 million housing bond plan and selling city land for as cheap as $1 to affordable housing developers as part as the efforts she's already made to increase affordability.

Yes, but: Baldwin's first term has received pushback from some residents, including a group called Livable Raleigh that tried to recall her for pushing elections from last year to this November. That group, whose leadership includes two former city council members, has criticized some of the growth tactics in Raleigh's neighborhoods and donations to Baldwin from developers.

Other priorities: Transportation is among her largest ambitions if re-elected, she said, including expanding bus rapid transit and getting regional commuter rail started.

  • "I do not want us to become Austin, where if you travel at peak hours and leave the airport, you're on the ground for two hours trying to get to where you need to be."
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