Category: City Government (Page 1 of 15)

After 10 years on Raleigh council, Baldwin won’t seek re-election

by Donna Belt

I was disappointed when I read the headline that Mary-Ann Baldwin wouldn’t be running for another term as city councilor.  Then I read the leading paragraph of the News & Observer article:

Mary-Ann Baldwin, a polarizing figure on the Raleigh City Council who has been supportive of new development near N.C. State University and drew criticism for posting a picture on social media of her dog urinating on a column at the General Assembly, will not seek re-election this fall.

It strikes me that this summary falls far short in capsulizing her decade of innovative and responsive leadership in Raleigh.

Let me tell you my story.

I came to Raleigh after living in Tokyo and London.  I had a lot of ideas, but experience in public art?  Coming from huge cities, not so much. Yet in this small city weighed down by recession when we arrived, I saw possibility in the buildings that were sitting empty.  What if we considered them canvases for public art?

The question was, would anyone else join me in asking, What if?  What if people of all ages and levels of experience could help shape our streetscapes and literally lend their lines and colors to our downtown?  The answer was Mary-Ann Baldwin.

The morning I made my pitch to the board of Triangle Transit to paint a 150 foot mural on the Dillon Supply building on the south end of West Street, I sat over coffee with Mary-Ann, who spent the rest of the morning twisting arms so that by the time I arrived, I saw only smiles.  And that was just the beginning.

It was people like Mary-Ann who fed my desire to keep going.  My focus has always been on the function art serves in our lives as a means to connecting people and allowing them to see themselves as creatively empowered.  This is pretty much the opposite pole from traditional public art that depends on major corporate donors, a pedigree of successful projects and a profit loss statement that goes back for years.  Yet whether it was supporting our Glenwood South neighborhood’s knitting of 150 tree sweaters, or encouraging crosswalk art, Mary-Ann was the person from the city who said, YES! Let’s make this work!  And in every case, she was willing to follow up on a personal level to help streamline the process for me.

I thank Mary-Ann for her championing of individuals and small businesses who ask What if?  To respond as she has constantly responded – balancing good sense with fostering pure potential, she has touched my life, as well as all those who bring innovative, grassroots vision to Raleigh.  She will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.

Please read Part Two of this article:

Glenwood South’s Neighborhood Champion

Glenwood South’s Champion: Mary-Ann Baldwin

by Jim Belt  

The Glenwood South Neighborhood Collaborative was formed nearly four years ago to provide a platform facilitating residents and merchants working together to pursue projects and initiatives designed to foster growth and connection within the neighborhood.  By tapping into the strength of this high density residential and commercial district, the GSNC’s mission was to maximize the vitality and appeal of Glenwood South for both residents and visitors.

From the beginning, there was no shortage of ideas of what might be accomplished, but many proposals that popped up had not been tried elsewhere in the city.  Clearly, the neighborhood needed a champion on City Council; someone who could both appreciate the benefits of what the GSNC was banding together to do as a community, and someone who could just as critically, help to guide the neighborhood through the city rules and ordinances that inevitably arose.

Following the success of public art projects (Tree Sweaters, Scarf Trees, Crosswalk Art), Glenwood South naturally looked again to neighborhood champion … Mary-Ann Baldwin.

Thanks to Mary-Ann’s involvement three years ago, the neighborhood was able to get daytime parking restrictions lifted along sections of Glenwood Avenue as a means to improving walkability by slowing down commuter traffic, as well as opening up new customer parking places for local businesses.

Then two years ago, with Mary-Ann’s support the City Council created a new ordinance that established the Glenwood South Hospitality District, allowing the neighborhood to better manage noise disturbances by providing clarity on late night outdoor music noise levels, and the adoption of a new approach to encouraging communication between residents and business owners to resolve conflicts.

And finally, this year Glenwood South will be a brighter place over the holidays thanks to Mary-Ann, who led the way for the neighborhood to get the financial support needed from the DRA and others to provide holiday lights and banners along Glenwood Avenue.

Glenwood South and DRA will be featuring this stone as part of their Glenwood South Rocks project on September First Friday.

There’s an energy in cities where neighborhoods are empowered to create public art and consider new ideas for bringing together community.  This runs in the face of how cities are commonly governed to avoid precedent-setting activities that garner risk and the possibility of problems down the road.  It takes leadership like Mary-Ann’s that slices through the resistance that keeps everyone in their lanes.  Thanks to her, Glenwood South is thriving and well and continuing to consider ideas for residents and merchants working together to create the downtown community of which they dream.

Thanks, Mary-Ann for your support in getting us launched.  The GSNC looks forward to the continuing creativity and responsiveness that is sure to follow in your footsteps.




Meet City Councilor At-Large Candidate, Matt Tomasulo


The City of Raleigh will hold elections for Mayor and City Council on October 6th.

Matt Tomasulo is a candidate for one of the two at-large City Council seats currently held by incumbents Mary Ann Baldwin and Russ Stephenson.

The DLA asked Matt a series of questions.

Here are his answers:

What factors need to be balanced in providing for downtown Raleigh’s growth as a vital, sustainable, creative environment for both residents and businesses?

Raleigh is a great place to live, to work, to play – but we can’t stand on the sidelines – we need to continue to challenge ourselves and keep moving Raleigh forward.  I believe we can only do that with a city government that truly listens to its citizens.  From speaking with residents, too many people feel disconnected from our city today – but they don’t have to be.  For the past 5 years I’ve been traveling around the country, building a nationwide movement called Walk [Your City] that connects people to their communities, street by street and block by block.  I learned that improving a city doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive – you just have to listen, to learn, to adapt. You just need the courage to take risks and approach challenges creatively. Continue reading

An Interview with City Councilor At-Large, Mary Ann Baldwin

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The City of Raleigh will hold elections for Mayor and City Council on October 6th.  In the at-large city council race, incumbents Mary Ann Baldwin and Russ Stephenson will face Matt Tomasulo and Craig S. Ralph.

This blog will include interviews with each candidate, with answers published as they are received.

Mary Ann Baldwin is an at-large member of City Council, having served since 2007.  The DLA asked Mary Ann a series of questions.

Here are her answers:

What factors need to be balanced in providing for downtown Raleigh’s growth as a vital, sustainable, creative environment for both residents and businesses?

Raleigh’s population will double in the next 20 years. To be prepared, we developed a new comprehensive plan beginning eight years ago. It outlines our vision, goals, strategies, and tactics – covering everything from density to sustainability to creativity. It also identifies eight growth areas, one being downtown.

We need to balance the fear of growth with the reality; the concern about density with the alternative (sprawl); the development of high-end housing with the creation of affordable housing; and the desires of downtown residents with the needs of thriving businesses, coupled with the expectations of visitors and tourists. These are complex issues – not a sound bite. I have to commend the Glenwood South Neighborhood Collaborative, which has done a good job working together as a community, bringing together residents and merchants to talk and even disagree. Being adversarial accomplishes little; being sensitive to other people’s desires, listening to all sides and acting with a good heart is the key to success. It’s all about balance and compromise.

We also have to strive for a better retail mix using strategies and incentives to meet residents’ needs; respect and celebrate the historic and African-American neighborhoods that surround downtown; and create open space, new parks and greenway connections to ensure a great quality of life. Continue reading

An Interview with ‘District E’ City Councilor, Bonner Gaylord

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The City of Raleigh will hold elections for Mayor and City Council on October 6th.  Bonner Gaylord has served on the City Council since 2009 and is seeking re-election.

Bonner’s challengers for the District E seat on the City Council are DeAnthony Collins and Edie Jeffreys.

The DLA asked Bonner a series of questions.  Here are his answers:


What factors need to be balanced in providing for downtown Raleigh’s growth as a vital, sustainable, creative environment for both residents and businesses?

Raleigh is a growing, prosperous city, and to maintain that growth and prosperity, we have to balance our economic development with protecting quality of life. I don’t think this has to be an oppositional balance. In fact, I think the two go hand in hand. All of the economic development initiatives in the world won’t attract people if the quality of life doesn’t make them want to stay. As a city councilor, I have listened to people in the public, private and educational sectors to make sure Raleigh was doing all it could to help them thrive. The revitalization of Raleigh’s downtown has provided a boost to our whole city and we should keep working to make it an area where people can live, work, dine and entertain themselves. Continue reading

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