Stormie D. Forte, a Raleigh native, for those who may be learning about her is the first African American Woman City Council member. This position came open upon the resignation of the District D representative. She was selected after competing against 54 candidates down to two, she another African American woman. After presentations narrowed down the number of people competing for the seat, she was voted in by six out of seven Councilors. INDY wrote about two historic final candidates. One more ‘progressive’ in posture than Ms. Forte. Her aspirations for District D involved ‘affordable housing’ and better relations with the police department. Her district covers the coveted Dix Park and parts of downtown. Ms. Forte replaced a council member who fell from grace due to a charge of sexual harassment. She is well educated with an undergraduate and masters from Chapel Hill. She gained her juris prudence law degree from NC Central University. She and her predecessor claimed a similar lifestyle as LGBTQ along with her peer Councilor Member, Jonathan Melton. What is most impressive is her range of volunteerism and her radio show ‘The Art of Listening’ on Choice 92.1 FM. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stormie_Forte She also runs a consulting firm offering services to area businesses.
My first encounter with Councilor Member Forte was during a rezoning case. I have learned more about her from articles and a zoom meeting with neighbors from NE Raleigh. We knew little about her position. Her willingness to meet with folks from our community fighting for our Small Area Plan against rezoning case Z-45-20, was admirable. None of us were lawyers but argued our case with passion and commitment. She understood our challenges and took a very reasonable position on the issue. At the time we did not know which way she would weigh in on the issue. I was confident she understood and respected the gravity of issues an ability to articulate them. She represents a very dynamic District D being watched since her selection July 2020 mostly due to being part of downtown Raleigh which includes gentrification issues in her district.
Our NE Raleigh Community was challenged with a rezoning case to place high density housing at the third worst accident intersection in Wake County and the 23rd worst in the state. It is a very busy and dangerous corner to place families in order to address city housing needs with three and four story apartments up to 344 units in our low-density one and two story building community. That corner had a Small Area Plan developed by the community in good faith. This could have been interpreted by her as meeting a principled goal of affordable housing, yet her vote to deny reflected consideration for the status of our Small Area Plan which designated that corner for retail to serve the surrounding residential communities. We will remain a car driven community as housing limits local walkability. I believe that Council Member Forte credited our community passion and determination with having vision and commitment to a solution different from what was being pursued by the majority of the Council. The majority voted to approve rezoning case Z-45-2020. What I respected the most was that once her decision was made, she did not feel the need to justify or explain her vote. District D has a strong Council Member in Stormie Forte. She will have her challenges and based on my experience is someone who will listen and acknowledge the nuances in decision making that affects citizens’ quality of life. She has the intellect to handle accountability for her positions, to her credit. Citizens in her district will vote to decide if she remains their representative but I found an important independent thinker who could best serve the broader community. I want to recognize the uniqueness of this opportunity in having the first African American woman on Raleigh’s City Council. Her point of view counts for all citizens.
Art and Article by Lillian L Thompson at https://Lillianonline.us