The Come Up
My name is Zainab Baloch and I am running for Mayor in Raleigh, North Carolina, one of the fastest growing cities in America with almost half a million people. Since I was a child growing up in Raleigh, I’ve always thought it was magical. I grew up in North Raleigh, the oldest of 6 kids, learning the value of community, hard work, and resilience. My parents met in North Carolina after immigrating from Pakistan over thirty five years ago, and quickly chose Raleigh as their home. Even though my parents struggled to learn a new culture, they worked hard to ensure we had the opportunities they did not. Not only did they instill the importance of education in us, they reminded us of the blessings we had and the impact of being kind to everyone.
Community is My Motivator
Throughout my upbringing, there was one constant – community.
I grew up very i nvolved in serving and leading initiatives because I loved it. My community was my neighborhood. It was my mosque. It was my school. My passion, youth, and commitment to the future of Raleigh is what got me into public service. The lack of voices speaking up for younger generations, vulnerable populations, and new ideas is what inspired me to run. We have the chance right now to impact the future of Raleigh. I’m running to claim that future. But, this isn’t about me – it’s about us.
I don’t want to be a politician; I want to be a public servant. I’m running for the people, by the people. This isn’t a campaign, it’s a movement. When we get elected, the movement will remain. We can and will challenge our city to do better. We can and will bring moral solutions to the table.
Building for the Future
Raleigh is in a unique position. We’re the capital city of North Carolina. We’re the second biggest tech hub after Silicon Valley. We’re facing unprecedented growth and there’s a great job market… for some. We’re also one of the worst cities to live in if you’re a poor black kid trying to get out of poverty. Our upward mobility rate is 8%, worse than Oakland, Queens, and DC. Many of our firefighters can’t afford to live in the city. We’re polluting our air and water systems, making climate change worse. Our homelessness rate is skyrocketing. What if Raleigh became known for our choices to listen to our people and prioritize moral, ethical, kind decisions for our city? We need to reimagine our city and the spaces we live, work, and play in. We will be a city that invests in people and is committed to doing good even when it’s hard. We need new moral approaches. Not the same old solutions. Public office is about public service, not power. It’s time for us, all of us, to serve the public. This is our moment. The future of Raleigh is with the next generation.
What do you need out of a mayor / how your experience fulfills that?
A person who empathizes with diverse communities
Over the course of my life, I’ve walked alongside people of all identities. With grassroots organizations like the Poor People’s Campaign, I’ve collaborated with both my working class peers and the political sphere of DC.
I grew up as a first generation immigrant, and have dealt with prejudice as a Muslim woman of color. I live in Southeast Raleigh and I see the changes in the neighborhood firsthand.
At the same time, I’m a college grad with a master’s degree (Wolfpack and Tarheel–talk about bridging gaps!), and a working young professional in the tech field.
Anyone can sympathize, but it takes a person who has walked the same paths to truly empathize, engage, and advocate for their communities.
A person who understands the impacts of policies once implemented, and has experience creating them.
I’ve worked with Wake Up Wake County to study, plan, and implement policies from start to finish, and have acted as a board member with the Islamic Association of Raleigh in a similar capacity.
On top of that, I’m one of the few candidates that has the schooling for this position–my Masters in Public Administration taught me the ins and outs of budgeting, policy making, and taxes.
A person who understands technology for innovative social impact, and is familiar with the city
I have a finger on the pulse of relevant and effective technologies that can help push this city forward, as I work within the tech industry.
I grew up in the age of the app–I can communicate with every generation in an easy and accessible way.
Living in Southeast Raleigh and living in this city for 28 years, I regularly take the bus (and scooters). I won’t be planning these life changing policies from behind a desk!