Nicole Stewart will not seek re-election
The general rule is that it’s hard to beat the incumbents. Add to that the fact that the 2022 Raleigh municipal election is a non-partisan race – don’t expect any of those helpful D’s and Rs alongside the names – and the Raleigh Mayor and Council’s race will appear at the bottom of this. ‘one long ballot and you’ve got a recipe for the current board slate to slide with relative ease into another term.
No one on the board would have an easier time getting re-elected than Nicole Stewart. She received more votes than anyone on council in 2019, including about 10,000 more votes than Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin.
But instead of rolling for victory, Stewart says it’s time to step away. On Tuesday, Stewart, 40, announced that she would not be running again next year.
âDear Raleigh, thank you for the privilege of serving,â Stewart wrote in a statement. “During my tenure, I am proud of the progress we have made and believe the time has come to let the next leader step in and serve our beloved city.”
The news is a disappointment to those who have followed Stewart’s political career. While his two terms on the board may seem relatively short, his tenure has seen him go from the underdog of a deadlocked council in development to being at the forefront of a radical change in Raleigh politics, inaugurating the future of the city as a modern, dense city and a dynamic metropolis.
Baldwin praised Stewart for his âintellectual and data-driven approachâ to governance.
âWhat we’re doing right now is so difficult because we’re moving from a small town to a big city,â Baldwin told the INDY. âIt’s a transition and it’s uncomfortable for some people because the change is difficult. People don’t want to see a change, but we are changing and Nicole had this vision of where we should be and who we should be as a city.
Under previous advice, this vision often made Stewart the only voice in the opposition. At the time, she was the youngest board member at 37, and the majority of the board consisted of an older guard who emphasized preservation of the past over growth. While Mayor Nancy McFarlane and board member Corey Branch have at times attempted to compromise and reach consensus on issues including the regulation of short-term rentals and authorization of DSUs, Stewart had no not afraid to be the only dissenting vote – for example, on issues such as an increase in water and sewer tariffs that it deemed inadequate, or against a proposal to eliminate a sidewalk plan, at the behest of a few noisy residents, for a downtown area that had been in the works for years.
Stewart’s boldness made her stand out among the crowd in the 2019 election, and a leader when a new pro-development majority was sworn in in December and Stewart was named acting mayor.
Stewart said his goal as a council member was “to increase access to the decision-making table to help make our city council more diverse.” Among her accomplishments, Stewart says she is proud to have helped pass the $ 80 million affordable housing bond, a target to cut emissions by 80% by 2050 to fight change. climate and prevent future development from being built in the floodplain.
Stewart’s exit from the board offers a great opportunity for a newcomer to show up, without the threat of facing a formidable incumbent. In an otherwise sleepy election year for the board, an open seat could turn things around significantly.
In addition to serving on the board, Stewart also works full time as Director of Development for the NC Conservation Network. Prior to serving, she helped found The Beehive Collective, a circle of donors that raised over $ 400,000 for local causes.
âWhen you leave the board, it doesn’t mean you stop doing good,â Baldwin says. âShe will find other ways to have a voice. We have her for another year and I expect her to be even stronger than she has been.
It is a rare thing for an incumbent to stray to the top of their game. When asked if Stewart would consider returning to politics at some point, she replied, “I’m not ruling him out.”
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