In a campaign update released this morning, Durham City Council member Javiera Caballero says she is suspending her campaign for mayor of Durham. Caballero’s name will still appear on voters’ ballots for the November 2 general election and during early voting, which begins Thursday. 

Caballero placed a distant second in Durham’s municipal primary election last week, garnering 4,925 votes, or around 25 percent of all votes, to O’Neal’s 13,586 votes. This means O’Neal is effectively Durham’s mayor-elect, and the first Black woman mayor of the Bull City. 

“I congratulate Judge O’Neal on her strong performance in the primary election,” Caballero wrote in the statement. “I know that we share many values. She has a long record of service to the community. It is my hope and expectation that she and I will work as partners to move our city forward. In light of the results of last week’s primary election, I believe that my best role right now is to continue to fight for my values and for the people of Durham in my role on the City Council, and I will be suspending my campaign effective today.”

Caballero, who was born in Chile and immigrated to the United States as a child, settling with her family in Charlotte, was the first Latina member to join the council, and the first Latina member elected to a city council in North Carolina, after she was appointed in 2018 to fill Steve Schewel’s council seat when he was elected mayor. Voters then elected Caballero to the council in 2019 to a four-year term. Caballero’s statement notes that, if elected mayor, she would have been the first Latina mayor in the southeastern United States outside of Florida.

“From the beginning, I knew this campaign would be an uphill battle,” Caballero’s statement continues. “The people of our city fight uphill battles each and every day. So many in Durham are struggling with the rising cost of housing, the gun violence that plagues our city, like so many cities in the U.S., and the intensifying challenges of climate change.”

Caballero said she will continue to work towards building “a Durham for everyone,” with emphasis on her goals of addressing climate change, transforming the city’s approaches to public safety, creating affordable housing, and providing economic opportunities for all of Durham’s residents. 

Caballero has been an effective member during her time on council, engaging Durham’s Spanish-speaking community in the COVID-19 pandemic response and building a framework for engaging immigrant and refugee communities with city government. She has also been a proponent for transformative housing, sustainability, and other public safety initiatives, including the creation of a department that reimagines how first responders in Durham address non-violent 911 calls. 

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