Attorney Charles Francis wants to be Raleigh’s next mayor; 6 seeking city’s top post

Charles Francis officially filed this week to run for Raleigh mayor, but he would have settled for a rematch.

The 56-year-old attorney lost to incumbent Nancy McFarlane after a run-off election between the two in 2017. He was already planning to try again when she announced in March she would not seek a fifth term.

Now he’s one of at least six people interested in the spot with the filing period for the city election still open for another week.

“Over 100 years my family has made a good life in Raleigh and I want to extend opportunities for success to more people in Raleigh in our time,” he said. “It is just that simple. I think city government has a role to play in that.”

Here are the others who’ve announced they want to succeed McFarlane:

Three of the candidates have officially filed to run for the seat: Knott, Sutton and Francis (www.francisforraleigh.com). The filing period ends Friday, July 19.

The 2017 election was contentious and resulted in majority shift on the council. In a video announcing her decision to not run again, McFarlane said the council has become fractured and spent more time fighting one another than fighting “together for the things we cared about.”

Francis rebutted having a part in contributing to that split on the board in 2017, and said he would end the “dysfunction” on the board if he was elected. He also said he would not “re-litigate” 2017.

“I already have strong relationships of the current council members,” he said. “If they are returned to office, I have a head start there. I will form strong relationships with all of the members of the council. One of the problems that this council has now is there is dysfunction between certain council members and the mayor. We are going to end that dysfunction by having strong interpersonal relationships. Without that you can’t do anything.”

His biggest priority will be housing, he said, adding that “Raleigh is suffering a crisis of housing as we grow,” both for newcomers and those who already live in the city.

“The most important area, in my judgment, is increasing access to housing,” he said. “Housing affects so much if your quality of life.”

If elected, he said he’d like to immediately create a task force to look at what regulations can be changed or removed for affordable-housing builders. The city would also review what land it owns that could be used for affordable housing and expand the city’s home ownership programs.

Francis’ other priorities include increasing the convenience and affordability of public transit — he said he’d like to see Raleigh and Wake County “move toward light rail” — build out Dix Park while taking care of other park needs, and seeing what Raleigh can do increase access to mental health services.

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Anna Johnson covers Raleigh and Wake County for the News & Observer. She has previously covered city government, crime and business for newspapers across North Carolina and received many North Carolina Press Association awards, including first place for investigative reporting. She is a 2012 alumna of Elon University.
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