Raleigh mayoral elections – An arts perspective

As those of you who live in Raleigh know, October 11 is Election Day.   Last Thursday, I attended an event put on by Raleigh Downtown Marketing called “Three Candidates – One Stage” where Raleigh’s mayoral candidates answered questions from Facebook and Twitter.  This event was covered by WRAL and there is a good overview, including interviews of the candidates on the issues of economic development and the bond issue by here.

In case you don’t know, the candidates are Nancy McFarlane (I), Billie Redmond (R), and Randall Williams(R). I have to say, after listening to all of them talk, my main thought was that they were ALL incredibly smart, capable people who were ALL very passionate about the City of Raleigh and its future.  I think it is a credit to Raleigh that its citizens have such a great candidate field to choose from.   If you want more specifics on their backgrounds, the N&O has done in-depth articles on each of them. (Williams, Redmond, McFarlane)

Candidates postion on the importance of the arts community?

At the Thursday night “twitter” candidate forum, I sought to determine how each candidate felt about public funding of the arts and, more broadly, the role of the arts and creative community in Raleigh’s future.  I tweeted, I Facebooked, I tweeted again, but only Nancy McFarlane was specifically asked an arts related question.

Nancy McFarlane

Nancy McFarlane replied that Raleigh needs to support its arts community because of its role in creating a “sense of place” for the City.  She said, “The best way to create jobs is to make this the best place to live in America”, and went on to talk about her love of the arts and her past work with arts groups.  Looking forward, she mentioned other cities she has been visiting in her role on City Council, such as Phoenix and New Orleans, and how she learned new methods for supporting arts businesses, such as special zoning or financing, that Raleigh could look into for the future.

I should note here that, as an ex-member of the Raleigh Arts Commission, I got to know Nancy in her work as the Council liason, and she was the only liason during my 6 year term that showed up to all of the Comission meetings and was truly a partner in the work we did.

Randall Williams

When neither Williams nor Redmond were given an arts-related question at the Forum, I contacted them directly through their campaign websites.  Randall Williams got back to me quickly and personally, which in my book, is BIG. In response to my question about his position on public funding of the arts, and the relationship between the arts and Raleigh’s future, he responded:

“Anyone who has seen the statue of David in Florence should be for public and private support of the arts.  I would be against $750,000 funding of public art in public safety center in this economy.

I have talked with Dr. Meymandi who is a good friend and sought out his thoughts on further private funding of art in public places (such as Dix property) and think that is something a Mayor should vigorously pursue”

I thank Dr. Williams for the quick response and great information.

Billie Redmond

I never heard back from Billie Redmond or her campaign.  Take from that what you will.


Look at the candidates backgrounds and websites, consider their positions on the role of the arts in our greater community, and GET OUT THERE AND VOTE!  If you need information about where or how to vote, click here.

And Orange County folks, watch here for information on your elections soon!


Part of ArtWork’s mission is to keep the arts and creative community informed on political and civic issues, so that they can be engaged in those issues.  Obviously, voting for candidates that are aware of the importance of the arts to our community’s economic future and quality of life is a large part of that.  

We look forward to the future of ArtWorks, where we can provide information about all races in the Region. But as a volunteer run organization at this point, we are covering the elections we had voluteers offer to cover…Raleigh and Durham.  If you have information that you can share about any candidates in upcoming elections in the Triangle,  feel free to share it below.


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[…] economic future and quality of life is a large part of that. Following the success of our article on the Raleigh mayoral race last month, here is more voter information from […]