Raleigh City Council member David Cox has returned a $5,100 campaign donation from businessman Dean Debnam, citing a dispute between Debnam and the city that could come before the council for consideration.
Cox, who represents District B, is running for re-election in Oct. 10 balloting. Debnam is the chief executive officer of Public Policy Polling, a Raleigh-based, nationally known polling operation.
"He made a contribution through PayPal," Cox said of Debnam. "I returned it because I am aware there is a legal dispute between Mr. Debnam and the city."
Debnam sued the city last year over height restrictions that were placed on the Boylan Pearce Building at 216 Fayetteville St. Debnam bought the building in 2012 and restored the exterior to resemble the way the building looked when it opened in 1911.
"They want to preserve historic properties and I want to preserve historic properties," Debnam said Friday about his dispute with the city. "The question is whether they followed the correct process."
Debnam had no comment about Cox's decision to return the donation.
Raleigh City Attorney Tom McCormick said the lawsuit is on hold at the agreement of both parties.
"The city council has been studying potential changes to the ordinance," McCormick said.
At-large council seat candidate Nicole Stewart, who received a $5,200 donation from Debnam, said Friday she does not intend to return it.
Should she be elected, Stewart said, she is confident that the donation will not affect her judgment should any matter concerning Debnam come before the council.