I’m Zainab Baloch and I am running for Raleigh City Council At-Large. I am running because I have always been proud to call Raleigh my hometown, and I want future generations to feel the same. I am running because I have seen the tremendous amount of revitalization Raleigh has been through, but I have also seen the parts of our city that were excluded from that growth. I am running to raise Raleigh for y’all!
My experiences as a Raleigh citizen have greatly prepared me to lead. I work for our state government in the Division of Mental Health, and presently, I am also completing my Master’s Degree in Public Administration at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Previously, I worked diligently for the City of Raleigh in youth programs and have served on multiple local community organization boards. I care about this city, and I have loved working for it.
My vision for Raleigh is one that provides opportunities for everyone in the community.
If one takes the time to check the reports, studies, and statistics that are available, it becomes abundantly clear ━ that in some cases ━ we are failing to make our communities safer. According to statistics from North Carolina Department of Justice, 67% of people arrested for low-level marijuana offenses in Wake County are black, yet only makeup 21% of the population. I strongly encourage everyone here to check out Open Data Policing, a site that has been collecting data on stop, search, and use-of-force by the North Carolina Police since 2002, for more information. Another program, 287-G, is one that allows deputies to check the immigration status of people arrested in Wake County. This program runs contrary to the values that Raleigh intends and prides itself on upholding. It has led to racial profiling, family separation and increased fear within local communities.
We can no longer continue to defer to existing policies and say, “We’ve done enough!” Not when minority communities are suffering from disproportionate arrests, profiling, and use-of-force. It’s time the City Council seizes the opportunity to make policing and communities safer. These issues are too important for us to shy away from, and I look forward to addressing them head-on and continuing the conversation with you when I’m elected.
My vision for raising Raleigh has three parts: Creating a city for everyone, a safe city, and a healthy city.
A City for Everyone: Raleigh is growing at an astounding rate, but the rise in the cost of living hasn’t been reflected in wages. I want to work to provide affordable housing, a living wage, and protections for those most vulnerable to the changes brought by gentrification ━ so that our city can be a place for all to comfortably call home.
A Safe City: I will do work my hardest to ensure that Raleigh is a place where everyone feels safe regardless of race, immigration status, or income. We must fight for balance and justice in how the law is applied and how our communities are policed, instead of letting a neighborhood’s safety be determined by its privilege. This includes making sure that the design and maintenance of public spaces are welcoming for all.
A Healthy City: Raleigh has a strong fitness culture and beautiful natural attractions, but many of us can’t fully enjoy healthy spaces because of cost and lack of access. We can change this by adding more green spaces, free outdoor gyms, and extending urban spaces for pedestrians and cyclists.
We’re living in divisive times. We have seen the vitriolic attitude that has overwhelmed our nation, and I make sure Raleigh does not embrace that rhetoric and attitude as it will perpetuate an unsafe environment for those who live here. Rather, I would like to Raise Raleigh for everyone. I want to make sure Raleigh is a safe city for everyone regardless of their race, religion, immigration status, economic background, gender or sexuality. I want to see our communities thrive, our citizens succeed, and our city blossom.
What I love about Raleigh is that there are many different people working to make our community a wonderful city to live in. There are tons of different cultures, belief systems, groups, and the wisdom of many generations helping to make Raleigh a better place. However, our city government is not representative of these different voices which, I believe, is why we are in the position we are in today. We need to come together to make Raleigh more inclusive, safe, and healthy. When the individuals who make up our community thrive, Raleigh thrives.
I hope you will stand with me on election day. Join me on October 10th, and let’s come together to #RaiseRaleigh.
Candidate for Raleigh City Council