Primary elections for Durham (mayor and city council) will take place on Oct. 6

~Philip Azar 

Priorities taken from

Quality growth–We need to ensure that Durham develops in a way that protects and improves our quality of life while respecting our history and our environment. We must not undervalue our past, our real estate, our environment or ourselves. Nor can we let our past limit our future. Most of the time, it’s a false dichotomy anyway.

Transportation–We need a transportation system that effectively and efficiently allows people to move across the city. We should design our transportation systems to meet the needs of all modes of transportation from public transit, to walking, to bicycling. This emphatically includes continuing to build out sidewalks in neighborhoods where transportation options are limited. We must ensure that current and future transit plans work for everyone.

Community policing–We need to ensure our safety. We need to improve relations between our neighborhoods, communities and law enforcement. Building positive relationships between the people of Durham and law enforcement officers has always been, is and will be key to those objectives. We should continue implementing the recommendations the FADE Coalition – recommendations the Human Relations Commission, City Council and the City Manager reviewed and essentially supported. One of Durham’s responsibilities is to participate openly in the discussion of how we police ourselves.

Affordable housing–Durham needs to stay affordable for people of different backgrounds. It needs to be a home for people who work here in all sorts of occupations. Affordable housing brings equity into how we grow. There is always room for private investment and for public-private partnerships. Here in Durham, affordable housing is also part of the solution and a core Durham value. It is among the ways we honor our everyone — new homeowners, new renters, people who build homes, and tax payers and other residents who put a diverse community of mixed incomes high on our list of priorities. If new affordable housing is not reaching people we want to reach, we must explore more robust repairs programs and try other approaches.

Protecting our heritage–Durham has a proud and diverse heritage. It’s part of what gives our city its unique personality. We need to make sure that we protect the architecture, traditions and neighborhoods that make Durham Durham. We are dynamic, we are changing, but there are prices that we can refuse to pay.

~Sandra Davis

Priorities taken from

Crime- Because of the large number of crimes that are gang related, I propose that we increase funding to community/ school gang prevention programs.  There need to be more proactive measures taken that involve community/ Police collaboration. In addition, children and young adults should have the opportunity to participate in and be offered positive community activities/ events. There should be funding directed towards these individual, community programs. I am very confident in the men and women on the Durham Police Department who serve our city. They put their lives on the line for us daily. Our crime rate hike is not only a great concern to us as residents of the community but to them as well. It will behoove us to reform the Durham Police Department. We have been doing many of the same tactics for so long, without results. It is time that we initiate changes and restructure our strategy.

Education-  I plan on actively advocating for Teachers and Educators within the Durham Public School system in an effort to improve citywide student performance. Our Teachers are one of our community’s most valuable assets because they educate and equip our youth to be productive and successful adults.  However, too often, our Teachers are underappreciated, burned out, and/ or lack consistent/ongoing support. I believe that if we provide our Teachers with the appropriate level of support, training, and tools, our students’ performance will show improvement.

Affordable Housing-  Affordable housing, particularly in downtown Durham is imperative. It breaks my heart that there are so many dedicated, hardworking residents who cannot afford to live in certain areas.  I will work alongside and advocate on behalf of our community to identify funding, initiatives and resources to bridge the gap.

Economy-   It is important to recognize the significance of small and medium sized businesses as they relate to large corporations. Small businesses are the driving force of development and growth. I am proud of the growth and development that Durham has accomplished. Our small business owners played a great role in earning us the reputation for being a top place to go for great food and entertainment.  To continue to support our community’s small businesses, there should be tax credit incentives for new small businesses that locate to our area, established small business that add additional locations or renovate. In addition, there need to be various funding options (loans, grants, etc.) made available for establishment renovations, employee growth and development. My proposal for small businesses, will also assist in stimulating the economic growth of large corporations.

~Ricky L. Hart

Priorities taken from

Strong and Diverse Economy- That results in a lower unemployment rate and higher standards of living, for all citizens. Work to increased funding for workforce development.

Safe and Secure Community- That is based on a shared responsibility model wherein the law enforcement agencies work for the community in an effective, responsible and engaging interaction.

A Well Manage City-Where the city’s needs are recognized, prioritize and actualized through exemplary accountability and transparency to the citizen.

~Jillian Johnson

Priorities taken from (Herald-Sun Candidate Survey)

Affordable Housing- I am deeply concerned about the rising cost of housing in the areas around downtown and increasingly all across Durham. The development in our downtown has been a benefit to many of us, but we must also address the needs of working people whose neighborhoods are changing into places they can no longer afford to live and where they do not feel welcome. I believe the city council should ensure that Durham maintains adequate stocks of affordable housing by:

1) Leveraging city resources to help nonprofit housing providers construct both for-sale and rental housing that is affordable for low-income people;

2) Committing city-owned land to the construction of affordable housing, especially near transit;

3) Demanding that housing developers who request city funding or significant zoning changes contribute to our affordable housing goals by providing affordable units as part of their developments and/or providing significant cash contributions to support affordable housing;

4) Providing safe and affordable alternative housing for every person living in public housing that is slated to be torn down;

5) Involving members of the communities most affected by these decisions and policies in every step of the process; and

6) Ensuring that issues of racial equity are addressed in any affordable housing plan.

Police Accountability- I am also deeply troubled by traffic stop data that indicates that racial profiling is occurring in the Durham Police Department. This is unacceptable and city council should continue efforts to monitor these statistics and demand action from the police department to reduce profiling and racially biased policing. I supported the adoption of the proposals of the FADE coalition and would support also adopting the last remaining recommendation to make marijuana enforcement a lowest-level law enforcement priority. I also support the adoption of the Durham Community Safety Act proposed by Southerners on New Ground as part of their Free From Fear campaign, which would ban bias-based policing against African Americans, Latinos, immigrants, youth, and queer, trans, and gender non-conforming Durham residents.

Racial and Economic Justice-  I would like to see our city develop in a more racially equitable and economically just way. It is telling that as downtown is seeing such a huge boom, income inequality and child poverty rates have increased. Nearly 25% of Durham’s census tracts are considered highpoverty. Crime rates in high-poverty areas are higher than in other parts of the city and economic and social opportunities are lacking. There are also clear racial disparities; unemployment rates for people of color are higher and wages are lower. It is important to me that as we grow, we grow together as a city, and that the benefits of economic development do not accrue only to a privileged few, but rather are widely shared by our community as a whole.

~Charlie Reece

Priorities taken from

Preserve Durham’s unique character.

My wife Laura and I were drawn to Durham nearly a decade ago by its unique character as a diverse city that works for everyone, whether you’re well-off or working two jobs just to make ends meet. But in some of Durham’s historic neighborhoods, affordable housing is increasingly out of reach for many working families. This trend poses a very real challenge to the diversity that so many of us cherish in Durham. I will work hard on the city council to keep Durham affordable for working families.

Ensure growth that benefits everyone.

As Durham undergoes explosive development downtown, we must ensure that the prosperity that flows from that development is broadly shared across Durham. As a member of the Durham City Council, I will insist on a review of all public investments – from funding for parks and recreation, to sidewalk construction projects, to our future plans for public transit – to ensure that Durham’s growing prosperity continues to work for everyone.

Make Durham safer.

We need to rebuild a relationship of trust between the Durham Police Department and the people of Durham. We must commit to a community policing model that focuses on direct community engagement by officers built on daily interactions between the police and the Durham residents they protect and serve. We should reallocate scarce law enforcement resources away from arrests for some non-violent misdemeanor offenses and toward preventing and investigating violent crime (which is up sharply from last year). These steps will make the people of Durham safer from violent crime.

Durham. Stronger Together.

Let’s join together and build the movement that will protect the Durham we love. A Durham that continues to be affordable for working families. A Durham that ties economic growth to prosperity for everyone. A Durham that uses its law enforcement resources wisely and with respect for all people.

~Steve Schewel

Priorities taken from

  • An affordable housing strategy that works. I work on this issue every single day. I will soon be releasing a detailed, comprehensive housing strategy that can make a difference even in the face of powerful market forces. Look for that strategy paper here on this website.
  • Strong council oversight of our police force. I will continue to work towards a police force that actively seeks to win the trust of our entire community, engages in true community policing, enforces the laws free from any racially discriminatory effects, and does the top-notch crime-fighting work that our residents need and demand.
  • A mobility strategy for the next 50 years. We must provide an inexpensive, efficient bus network for our 22,000 daily riders, and we must push the 17-mile Durham-Orange light rail project over the finish line for federal funding. Even as we pressure Wake County to join the regional rail system, we must complete this first leg in the next decade, and we can do it.
  • $15 million worth of sidewalks. The council has prioritized this spending, and I will work hard to get these sidewalks built over the next five years.
  • Improving our trails, bike lanes, parks, ballfields and tree canopy. Durham lags far behind the top cities when it comes to trail miles, bike infrastructure and ballfields, and we must fund and build them all over town. We are also losing our tree canopy to age and development, and we need a public-private effort to replace the canopy and make sure that every neighborhood has the benefit of a vibrant tree canopy.
  • Attention to the needs of our Hispanic residents. They now make up 15 percent of our local population and 20 percent of our schoolchildren. With a spirit of cooperation, we can all prosper together.
  • Support for the Mayor’s anti-poverty initiative in East Durham.Mayor Bell has put poverty at the forefront of our civic work and engaged hundreds of people in this effort. As we move from surveying residents and planning to action, let’s keep it going.

~Mike Shiflett

Priorities taken from

Law Enforcement/Citizen Conflict- Reevaluate new recruit screening tests, continually work with existing officers to monitor their skill sets and coping skills. Continue to create events where citizens and law enforcement can be heard and listen to create a better relationship.

Handling Growth and Infrastructure Needs- Continue prioritizing current maintenance needs and use calculations based on projected population growth to determine where new services and horizontal infrastructure will be needed.

Crime Abatement- Collaborate with other agencies and organizations to grow, create and implement additional programs that help our youth to learn employable skills so that their futures are successful and their dreams realized.
Continue to assist inmates through employer programs that provide on-the-job training.

Employment- Focus on approving strategically placed projects that create job opportunities that reach across Durham’s mixed income range, education levels and skill sets.

Areas of Concentrated Poverty- Continue to create private/public partnerships that address blighted areas and allow current residents to come back to a safer, better home and neighborhood.

Transit- Those of us who live in Durham realize our population is growing. And as we grow, new challenges are presenting themselves. The Transit challenge will be solved by creating and improving multiple systems to meet the diverse mobility requirements of all our citizens. Progress has been made with our bus systems already. But there is much more that we can do as capacity needs increase.

~Robert T. Stephens

Priorities taken from

I am committed to fighting for the people of Durham as fiercely as I fight for my humanity.

Durham needs a young, fresh face on our City Council. A face that not only recognizes old problems but also understands the challenges facing younger generations. A face that knows city policy can impact whether our children grow up in poverty, believes affordable housing should be accessible for everyone, and promotes economic development across more than just the downtown corridor.

I am running for City Council because I know together we can do more. I dream of a better Durham; a Durham whose government is responsive to the needs of its citizens, gives voice to those who think they are voiceless, and empowers everyone to rest easy at night without worrying how to make ends meet. Together, we can make this dream a reality. Together, we can build the world-class city we all want to live in.

Because together, we are Durham.

I am running for Durham City Council because I want to fight for your dreams too.

~John Tarantino

Priorities unavailable