Dr. Robert Weltzin, a chiropractor in North Raleigh, has never held elective office but he’s not a rookie candidate. Two years ago, he ran against incumbent mayor Nancy McFarlane and managed a meager 18% of the vote. Now, his campaign is ready for a rematch and hoping for a different result. The change in the Raleigh political environment, most of it happening in the last six months, gives him and his supporters some reason for that optimism.

Providing a boost for Weltzin’s campaign is dissatisfaction with the current leadership in Raleigh. For years the Raleigh elite spent years investing in revitalizing downtown. Now that the work has paid off and downtown is booming, some feel like the City Council and the Mayor want to pull the rug out from downtown’s success, hurting businesses and compromising a vibrant future for the city. It’s just one instance of what Dr. Weltzin feels is a pattern of misplaced priorities by current officeholders.

Although municipal elections are technically nonpartisan, Weltzin is a Republican and his election would provide a boost for the GOP. Like most Republicans, he wants lower taxes but some of his other beliefs belie stereotypical GOP positions. For instance, Weltzin characterizes himself as someone who will be supportive of city employees. He wants a raise for civil servants and is concerned about the state of Raleigh’s schools.

In addition, he hopes to make inroads with the African American community in Southeast Raleigh, many of whom have been displaced by gentrification and who have been harmed by the lack of a real manufacturing economy in the city. He also cites homelessness as a major issue and wants the city to be more responsive to the needs of those who lack a roof over their head.

Weltzin’s background lends credence to such statements. In 2006, he left a thriving practice to serve in the U.S. Army, fulfilling a lifelong ambition and eventually rising to become a Captain in the Military Police. Similarly, he had the choice to sit on the sidelines and tend to his chiropractory, but felt that goings-on in Raleigh demanded new leadership – leadership that will put the needs of all of Raleigh first.

The latest controversy over Raleigh’s restrictions on nightlife has given a burst of momentum to Weltzin’s campaign, and the campaigns of other challengers to members of the City Council. Voter registration efforts are under way from disenchanted business owners downtown in advance of the October election. With Democrats comprising a large majority of Raleigh voters, Weltzin will need all the help he can get.

However, turnout in these affairs tend to be quite low, lending a certain degree of unpredictability to the contest and providing an opportunity for Weltzin and his campaign. If enough people are angry with the recent downtown regulations, and they show up en masse to vote for “pro-business” candidates, then a shocking upset could be in store. In such a momentous event, the message from voters will have been clear: “Don’t make Raleigh boring again!”

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