May 14, 2024 - News

Mitchell Silver's return to Raleigh politics

Photo illustration of Mitchell Silver collaged with photos of Raleigh and abstract shapes.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Courtesy of Mitchell Silver

Mitchell Silver wants another shot at helping guide the direction of Raleigh's fast-paced growth with a run for the Raleigh City Council's District A seat this fall.

Why it matters: Silver was an influential city planner in Raleigh for nearly a decade, helping write the 2030 Comprehensive Plan, before leaving the city in 2014 to run New York City's parks department, one of the largest parks departments in the world.

Between the lines: Silver, whose son and two grandkids also live in Raleigh, always planned to return to the City of Oaks after his stint in the Big Apple.

  • For years, many locals have viewed him as a likely candidate for city office in some form.

Driving the news: Silver moved back in 2021, taking a job as a consultant for engineering and architectural firm McAdams, and wants to get more involved in city politics when he "semi-retires" this year, he told Axios.

  • District A, which encompasses parts of North Raleigh like North Hills, is currently represented by council member Mary Black, who has not yet decided on a run for re-election. Candidate filing ends July 19.

What they're saying: "I was watching what was happening at council and things aren't moving forward the way I want them to," Silver said.

  • "They are embarking on a new comprehensive plan ... [and] I want to be at the table to hear the debate about the new plan," he added.

The intrigue: Smarter growth, housing choices and public health are all issues motivating his run, Silver said.

On growth: Silver said he wants to see the city stick to its guiding plans, letting density go to transit-connected centers — like downtown, North Hills, Brier Creek or around PNC Arena — and do less deal-making over individual projects.

  • "When you start saying no to height (in those centers) you are pushing demand into neighborhoods," Silver said, adding he felt a commitment to the 2030 comprehensive plan began to erode in the years after he left the city.

On housing choices: Silver said he supports adding more "missing middle" housing by allowing density in the right places, like a duplex or a triplex.

  • He also wants the city to continue to aggressively invest in affordable housing.

On public health: Silver said he wants to take some of the lessons he learned in New York City and make Raleigh's parks and recreation department focus more on the mental health of residents, especially youth.

  • "I want to make sure we make our youth feel welcome in public spaces and our public recreation spaces more welcoming to them," he said.
  • Silver also suggested that Nash Square be redesigned as a more innovative recreational space, like Cary's new downtown park.
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