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The most vulnerable member of the Raleigh City Council this year may be Russ Stephenson.



He’s facing a tough challenge in the at-large race. A lot of his old supporters are disaffected. And he carries a whiff of the elitism that is the Council’s biggest Achilles heel.



Exhibit A: The debate in the Council last week over a new site plan for the McDonald’s restaurant and drive-through on Peace Street.



Stephenson, along with Mayor Charles Meeker and Councilman Thomas Crowder, didn’t like the plans submitted by the McDonald’s owner, who happens to be African-American.



James West, the council’s only black member, took issue with what he saw as micromanaging. In the end, Stephenson was on the losing end of a 4-3 vote.



Stephenson’s stance could hurt him in next month’s election. An earlier poll by Public Policy Polling showed him “leading” the at-large race, but he had only 16 percent of the vote. Not good for an incumbent. Plus, the other candidates weren’t known then. Now, both Mary Ann Baldwin and Paul Anderson, who is African-American, are running strong at-large races.



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