Durham will hold elections for mayor and city council on Nov. 3, with a primary taking place on Oct. 6. Below is information on each of the mayoral candidates.

Mayoral Candidates

~William V. (Bill) Bell (Incumbent)

Bill Bell is the current mayor of Durham.  He was first elected in 2001 and was re-elected in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. Before becoming mayor, Bell was a member of the Durham County Board of Commissioners from 1972 to 1994 and from 1996 to 2000. He served as the chairman from 1982 to 1994.

Bell holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from Howard University and an M.S. in electrical engineering from New York University. His professional experience includes working as the executive vice president and chief operating officer of the UDI Community Development Corporation and as a senior engineer at the IBM Corporation.

~John Everett

Everett is a retired self-employed construction contractor

~Tammy Lightfoot

Lightfoot has lived in Durham for the past two years and has been employed by Wal-mart for the 16 years. According to her website www.2015electtammylightfoot.com her platform includes:

Environment and Renewable Energy

Quote: “When ever possible, it should be used. We owe it to the future citizens of the world to leave it clean. We owe it to ourselves and our children to have it clean now.  I would like to explore ways to update and incorporate new technologies into our government buildings and the city. ”


Quote: “Crime has always been around, and unfortunately, will always be part of humanity. What bothers me is the acceptance that we usher to it. We need to explore new ideas, because the old ones are no longer effective. We are losing good citizens to neighboring cities because of the crime rate here in Durham.  I would like to see more community involvement in bringing down the crime rate in Durham. The police can only do so much with the information that is collected at crime scenes. We are going to have to start working together. I would like to bridge the gap that separates the police and our community.  Communicating with each other is the first step. I would also like to build a k-9 force. Dogs can be useful for tracking suspects who flee , have drugs or guns on them or if the suspect is trying to charge a officer. They would be a great asset to Durham in helping to control crime.”


Quote: “While driving through Durham, I’ve noticed that a lot of homes are boarded up and trash in the streets and yards. Crime, rodents and the instability of these dwellings are posing a safety hazard to our communities. This needs to be cleaned up.”

~James Lyons

Lyons is a native of Durham. He holds a B.S. and an MBA in Business Management from Liberty University. The first ten years out of school for James were spent employed in a drug screening lab with Laboratory Corporation of America. Since that time, James has been and is currently employed with Time Warner Cable. In 1998, James founded Keys to Life, a non-profit, community service organization. Through his years of community service work, James and his team of volunteers has mentored and provided assistance to many in our community, both young and old.

His platform includes (taken from www.jameslyonsformayor.com:

Quality Affordable Housing

Quote: “Our city has grown tremendously over the past five years. We have revitalized our downtown district with new businesses and new residences. I think this growth is vital in making Durham a competitor for jobs and economic opportunities as we continue to move forward. However, I think as a city we must also focus our resources on mixed use housing and “Quality” affordable housing. The price of rent has skyrocketed across our city and there are so many that cannot afford to provide their families with a safe environment and quality place to call home.”

Public Safety

Quote: ” As mayor, I will begin immediately to attract smart, experienced people to work with City Council to help revitalize our neighborhoods.”


  • Reduce crime rates

  • Protect and grow the public safety budget

  • Decrease gang violence and activity

  • Increase public accountability and improve resident perceptions and relations

  • Ensure a diverse public safety workforce

  • Improve emergency preparedness protocols and infrastructure
  • Create special task forces within our police department to respond to special situations (i.e. mental health offenders)

Jobs and the Economy

Quote: “In addition to making sure Durham has a robust workforce development system that trains residents for jobs of the future, it is imperative that the city maximize the impact of development projects in our various neighborhoods. James would like to mandate community agreements for all projects above a certain dollar amount. This ensures that community development is community driven and benefits not just developers, but the communities their projects inhabit.”


Quote: “James’s initiative is to bring the community and the City Council together and ultimately close the achievement gap across Durham schools.”

  • By building a portfolio of compelling schools and programs

  • Parents and families should be provided with better information on school performance. This will be done by developing a “School Report Card” for each of our schools

  • Improve the quality of school leaders and educators

  • Increasing the reading proficiency of our students by 2020

  • Expand internship and work study opportunities

  • Expand the number of quality early childhood education programs