Apr 16, 2024 - Politics

Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin will not run for re-election

Photo illustration collage of Mary-Ann Baldwin with abstract shapes and the city of Raleigh.

Photo illustration: Maura Losch/Axios; Photo: Courtesy of the City of Raleigh

Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin is not running for re-election this November, citing in a surprising video announcement Tuesday a breast cancer diagnosis from last year and other family health issues.

Why it matters: The announcement throws the Raleigh mayoral race wide open, as Baldwin was expected to bring a considerable amount of funding and name recognition to the fall election.

Driving the news: Baldwin, first elected in 2019 and a longtime city councilor before that, had long been expected to run for a third term as mayor — though she had not yet officially announced a run.

  • In her announcement Tuesday, Baldwin revealed for the first time she had been diagnosed with breast cancer last year.
  • She said it was caught in its earliest stages and that surgery and radiation were successful in treating it.

Zoom in: Baldwin's tenure as mayor was marked at the beginning by the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as protests related to George Floyd's death that caused damages across downtown Raleigh.

  • She spearheaded a reform to the city's zoning codes that made it easier to build denser housing throughout the city, which caused some neighborhoods to turn against her in the 2022 election.
  • She pushed for a $275 million parks bond to improve parks throughout the city, including the early stages of Dorothea Dix Park, as well as an $80 million affordable housing bond.
  • Her council was also part of the approval process for public funds to be used on the renovation of PNC Arena and the expansion of the Raleigh Convention Center. The first stages of the Raleigh Bus Rapid Transit system began construction under her watch, too.
  • Controversially, she helped dissolve the city's citizen advisory councils — though those were recently re-instated.

Between the lines: Baldwin said despite the breast cancer diagnosis, she had wanted to run for re-election.

  • But her husband also recently underwent open-heart surgery and foll0w-up operations. Her dog has been ill, too, causing her to reconsider her commitment to running.

What she's saying: "My heart was telling me to run again. There are still some things I want to achieve," Baldwin said in the video. "... But my head was telling me something different. It's telling me it's time to devote my energies to myself and my family and to find other ways to serve."

  • Baldwin said she had hoped to win re-election to continue focusing on expanding affordable housing, transit options and the city's greenway and parks system.

State of play: Several big names will be vying to replace Baldwin in the upcoming election, including

  • Dix Park Conservancy CEO Janet Cowell
  • Current council member Corey Branch
  • And N.C. State professor Terrance Ruth, who ran against Baldwin in the last election
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