The People’s Alliance PAC has endorsed


Caballero for the vacant at-large seat on the Durham City Council.

Caballero, who works for an education consulting firm, is one of seven finalists chosen by the council to interview for the job. The council has been down one member since December, when Steve Schewel was sworn in as mayor, leaving open a council seat carrying a term that expires in 2019.

Tom Miller, the PAC coordinator, says Caballero received the enforcement by “a very wide margin.”

“There was a very strong sentiment in the room that this appointment presented a rare and historic opportunity to bring to the council a progressive Latinx voice that should not be missed,” he told the INDY in an email. The city council does not have and has not had a Latinx member, at least in recent memory.

Caballero came to the U.S. from Chile as a child and has lived in Durham since 2010.

A mother of three and a former teacher, she’s served on the Club Boulevard Magnet Elementary School PTA, including two years as president. She sits on the Durham Open Space and Trails Commission.

Twenty-three people initially applied to fill the vacancy and the council last week narrowed the field down to seven finalists to interview, the most allowed by city code.

The other finalists are:

  • Pilar Rocha-Goldberg is president and CEO of El Centro Hispano and a member of the city’s gang reduction steering committee.
  • Sheila Arias, who owns a cleaning service, works as a parent leader at the state Department of Health and Human Services, and works with the grassroots group MomsRising.
  • Carl Rist, senior director of Prosperity Now, a think tank that focuses on addressing economic inequality, chairs the People’s Alliance Economic Inequality Team and helped launch the Durham Living Wage Project.
  • Kaaren Mary Haldeman is an activist and community organizer who works to prevent gun violence advocates for stronger gun policies.
  • Shelia Ann Huggins is an attorney and former city employee of nine years who ran for the Ward 3 seat in the recent municipal election, placing second to Vernetta Alston.
  • Pierce Freelon, a professor, musician, and community organizer who started Blackspace, ran for mayor in the recent municipal election and came in third.

Of all the applicants, three appeared on every council member’s list: Rocha-Goldberg, Rist, and Haldeman.

You can read applications and responses to a city council questionnaire from each applicant here. Finalists also answered the People’s Alliance questionnaires.

A public input meeting will be held at seven p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall. Each candidate will have fifteen minutes for supporters to speak up, but candidates themselves won’t be able to speak during that time. They’ll be interviewed the next day.

If all goes according to plan, the council’s seventh member will be sworn in January 16.