The Republican campaign is moving forward as more candidates declare for Raleigh mayoral and city council seats.
Local physician Dr. Randall Williams announced his candidacy this week for Raleigh mayor, a seat that Charles Meeker has held for the past decade before deciding not to run for a sixth term.
“I think I can make a difference,” said Williams, an obstetrician and gynecologist. “The mayor sets the tone of the city and I think the mayor sets a vision for the city.”
Williams said his vision and tone for Raleigh is to develop a position of economic strength, created through low taxes and by fostering a business-friendly environment
Once that is done, Williams said he would bring together all of the organizations that he’s worked with to help all of Raleigh’s citizens.
While Williams admits he’s never been to city council meeting, he said that his experience as a doctor in the healthcare industry and his humanitarian efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kabul and Haiti can transfer over into politics.
“It’s just my own political philosophy that bringing in non-politicians is a good thing,” he said, adding that he is a well-informed person.
Along with traditional campaigning, Williams is available to any resident during his daily 6:15 a.m. jog starting at Nash Square across from City Hall.
Williams is the second Republican candidate running for Meeker’s seat. Real estate executive Billie Redmond announced her candidacy last month.
“He’s got a good group of supporters, as does Billie Redmond,” said Wake County Republican Committee Chair Susan Bryant. “We’ll be supporting both candidates.”
Bryant said both Republican candidates will focus on knocking out District A Councilor Nancy McFarlane, who is running for mayor as an Independent.
As McFarlane runs for mayor, two Republican candidates have entered the race for her District A council seat. Newcomers Gale Wilkins and Brian Tinga, both Republicans, will join Independent Randy Stagner, who announced his candidacy in April.
Wilkins, a native of North Carolina, said she has had her eye on the city council for a few years, but her time was dedicated to finishing her bachelor’s degree in human services from Peace College.
“I’ve always had a passion to work in the community,” Wilkins said. “I have a passion to work with individuals and families.”
While new to the political scene, Wilkins has served as a member on several boards and commissions including the Wake County Commission for Women and the Raleigh Human Relations Commission.
Wilkins said she plans on focusing on economic recovery, jobs and the creation of small businesses.
“Humanity is crying out for economic recovery,” she said. “People are crying out for jobs.”
She also wants to focus on effective public transportation and public safety.
Also focusing on the economy is Tinga, who works as a senior statistical programmer at Duke University and has an academic background in political science and economics.
“I really believe that we can balance the need for growth and jobs while protecting the quality of life,” said Tinga, who has lived in Raleigh for about five years.
He said that people are drawn to the area because of its great neighborhoods and wants to focus on strengthening the economy in his district and throughout the city.
“I believe I can offer a fresh perspective on how to address challenges facing our city,” he said.
Tinga’s campaign will also focus on expanding business growth so that new jobs are being brought into the city.
Vying for one of the At-Large seats held by Mary-Ann Baldwin and Russ Stephenson is political newcomer Paul Fitts, a North Carolina native and mortgage lender.
Fitts, a Republican, said while he believes the city provides great services, he is not happy with the debt the city has accumulated on large-scale projects.
“Debt is a huge issue and we haven’t been able to climb out of our debt,” he said.
Like the rest of his Republican counterparts, Fitts wants to make Raleigh a business-friendly environment. He said not enough work has been done to recruit new business to the city or streamline factors that would encourage business growth, such as the permitting process.
“I want to make sure people realize that Raleigh is an employment-friendly environment,” he said.
Fitts said he would like to see the tax base grow so that taxes can stay at a lower rate.