Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin is a longtime Raleighite, five-term at-large Raleigh City Council member, and was elected as the Mayor of Raleigh in 2019. We sat down to ask the mayor six pressing (read: fun) questions about the City of Oaks. Keep reading for her favorite local appetizer, where she hikes with her pups, and which developments she’s looking forward to.
As a long-term resident, what are the most exciting changes you’ve seen Raleigh go through?
I’ve lived here since 1988. And when I moved here from New York, one of the things that was shocking to me was the lack of independent restaurants. There were a lot of chains. And I can remember Angus Barn and 42nd Street [Oyster Bar], but there were very few choices. Now, the restaurant and food scene, along with new breweries, is really exciting.
Another big change is the diversity of our economy. There are a lot of homegrown tech companies like Red Hat and Pendo. That’s exciting to see, along with the number of entrepreneurs in our space and how they’re changing our community.
And the other thing that’s a big change is our airport. When I came here, you could barely get a direct flight anywhere. And now you can get a direct flight to Iceland, San Francisco, and England — it’s a totally different world.
Which major Raleigh projects are you most excited to see completed?
- Bus Rapid Transit — The Wake Transit Plan is something we’ve been working on for ~10 years. When I served on the advisory board, we made BRT a major focus, and it’s finally happening. And we were recently awarded $77.8 million from the Federal Transit Administration for BRT along Wilmington Street, connecting downtown to Garner.
- Conlon Family Skatepark — I’m really excited about this. Quite frankly, that has been such a contaminated site, a dead zone. It’s going to be fun to see it come to life.
- The Seaboard Station project is also coming alive and really creating, along with Smoky Hollow, a very walkable community.
Where do you like to hike or walk with your dogs, Jack Bauer and Charlie Brown?
We used to go to Umstead [State Park] a lot, that was one of our favorites. I love going to the Museum Park at the NCMA and Fletcher Fletcher Park. We also like walking in our surrounding neighborhoods, like Oakwood.
What’s the last thing you did locally?
I recently cut the ribbon for Tap Yard. Zack Medford opened that up, making it very kid-friendly and pet-friendly. They actually have a doggy beer. It’s made with peanut butter and chicken broth. Jack Bauer scooped that up; he loved it.
You can only choose one local restaurant menu item to bring to a deserted island. Which one is it and why?
I love so many restaurants, but my good friend Samad [Hachby], who owns Mulino Italian Kitchen & Bar, serves great Italian food. It reminds me of being in Italy. I love the creamed truffle gnocchi. We usually get it as an appetizer, and everybody takes a spoonful. The flavor is just amazing.
What is one thing you wish people knew about Raleigh?
I think one big thing, and I hear this all the time from entrepreneurs who have moved here from San Francisco and New York, is that they always say everyone is so nice here. And I think that’s the key to Raleigh. We are collaborative. We are connectors.