After the polls close at 7:30 tonight, we’ll find out whether Durham voters decided to re-elect Mayor Steve Schewel and council members Jillian Johnson, Charlie Reece, and Javiera Caballero, as well as to endorse the largest affordable housing bond in North Carolina history. Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough residents, meanwhile, will have chosen their local governments, as well. 

We’ll be tracking the results as they roll in, and staff writer Thomasi McDonald will be filing dispatches from polling places and campaign events in Durham as the night wears on.

5:32 p.m.: Officials at East and West Durham voting sites say voter turnout across the city is much higher than it was during last month’s primaries.

Just before 5:30 p.m., a consensus of voters in support of the affordable house bond appeared to emerge.

Allen Ingram, a forty-year-old church employee, says he’s in support of the city “trying to provide as much affordable housing as possible.”

“I’m looking at the federal money and how they are going to use the ninety-five million generated by the bonds,” he said. “That money can be used not just for housing. It can be used for education programs and teaching trades.

Ingram says he voted for Joshua Gunn, who supports the bond with reservation, and Jackie Wagstaff, who opposes the bond. 

“I love young people,” Ingram said of Gunn, the thirty-five-year-old rapper and businessman. “He really impressed me when I went to hear him speak.”

Ingram said a vote for Wagstaff, a former school board member and city council member, ensures residents’ concerns will be heard in City Hall.

“She’ll fight for us,” he says. “She’s a fighter.”

6:15 p.m.: East Durham residents are casting their ballots at the Shepherd’s House Church, where a black teenager was shot to death last week on the church lawn.

Chloe Palinchar, forty, lives less than a block from the voting site. Palinchar says the affordable housing bond is a good idea.

“I think Durham needs to stay affordable, with diversity,” Palinchar explained. “We need to have some income diverse, affordable housing. I just wish someone could have bought East Durham before the houses went to being three hundred thousand and four hundred thousand dollars apiece.”

Palinchar declined to say which candidate she was most impressed with.

“I just appreciate that we have so many smart people running who have the time and the energy to do well by the city,” she said.

Veterans Affairs employee Rejeana Stephens agrees that the bond is a good idea.

“Anything that helps people get into their own homes,” Stephens said. “I own my mine and it’s one of the best things I could have done for myself and my kids. Homeownership instills pride in the city. I was born and raised here.”

7:35 p.m.: The first votes just dropped. In Durham, Steve Schewel and the affordable housing bond are way ahead in the early vote, while we have a close four-way race for the three council seats. 

In Chapel Hill, Pam Hemminger is cruising to re-election as mayor—no surprise there. The town council race is very tight early on.

There’s also a tight election for the CHCCS school board. 

7:52: p.m.: If you’re interested in non-Triangle politics, there’s a close gubernatorial election afoot in, of all places, Kentucky. 

Two Kentucky Rs text w similar message: the rest of the ticket is far outpacing Bevin.

Let me know what you’re seeing, folks.— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) November 6, 2019

8:02 p.m.: In Virginia, Dems look like they’re going to take back the state Senate.

Democrats need to pick-up just one seat to win the Virginia Senate.

They’re currently leading in 3 GOP-held seats, according to @dkelections‘s excellent tracker.— Taniel (@Taniel) November 6, 2019

8:10 p.m.: Just before eight, the crowd was still thin at 106 Main, where the slate of Bull City Together incumbents and their supporters are scheduled to gather for the People’s Alliance’s election night party.

A smattering of local television reporters have set up their cameras. They seem a bit worried at the so-far small gathering.

“Do you want to be on TV?” a broadcast journalist, desperate to put a live body in front of the camera, asks.

The Kansas-Duke game played on two televisions behind the bar, but Milo Pyne, coordinator of the PA PAC, was focused on a third screen showing the early voting results. The PA-endorsed incumbents for Durham City Council—Johnson, Reece, and Caballero—were narrowly ahead, and Mayor Schewel was up by a much wider margin. 

“I hope it stays that way until the end. The vote in support of the bond has been three-to-one,” said Pyne. 

Gunn, the PA candidates’ biggest threat, finished in the top three at voting sites in East and South Durham, Pyrne noted. 

“We’ll be looking at those,” he said.

8:19 p.m.: If this is correct, it’s a pretty big deal, nationally speaking. 

I’ve seen enough. Projection: Andy Beshear (D) has defeated Gov. Matt Bevin (R) in #KYGOV.— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) November 6, 2019

8:34 p.m.: It’s just before eight-thirty, and the crowd at 106 Main is on the upswing—more voices and more noise. The music of choice at these events seems to be golden oldies with a rhythm-and-blues bent. “It’s a Shame” by the Spinners rocks just as hard tonight as it did when Stevie Wonder wrote it during Motown’s heyday.

Lorisa Seibel, a longtime PA member, works with the PAC’s affordable housing team. She says she was worried about the housing bond but was reassured after speaking with voters at the polls she visited.

“Most people see the need, even if they have concerns,” she says. “That’s the story for tonight.”

8:37 p.m.: Seven of fifty-six Durham precincts are in. Nothing has changed. There are still just eight hundred votes separating first place (Johnson) from fourth (Gunn), and fewer than four hundred separate Caballero and Gunn. 

8:40 p.m.: Eleven precincts in. Gunn edges closer to Caballero. 

8:50 p.m.: About half of Chapel Hill just dropped. It looks like this (Jess Anderson looks safe, everyone else … who knows): 

8:51 p.m.: Back to Durham, where, for the first time, Josh Gunn has nudged past Javiera Caballero for the third spot. 

8:57 p.m.: About half of Orange County is in, and there’s a tight battle for the fifth spot on the CHCCS school board. 

8:59 p.m.: At 8:45, Rodrigo Dorfman, who penned an incendiary email that angered black activists, arrives at 106 Main. “Slipping Into Darkness,” a hit by the West Coast supergroup War, is playing. There’s an overflow crowd that was fairly diverse, sans African American men. Pierce Freelon, a former mayoral candidate is here. Freelon has announced he will run for the state senate next year.

The Dramatics is, after the Temptations, arguably the greatest male soul group ever. Period. Their tune “What You See (Is What You Get)” is cutting a musical weave through the din. There may be just as many African American reporters here as there are supporters.

So how many African American men—probably the most marginalized group in Durham—are members of the People’s Alliance?

“Nowwww, let’s see,” says Freelon, a PA member. “One, two, three … not many.”

“It’s a problem,” Seibel said earlier when asked the same question.

9:10 p.m.: All of Carrboro and Hillsborough are in. In Hillsborough, Matt Hughes earned the most votes, followed by Mark Bell and Evelyn Lloyd. In Carrboro, Susan Romaine was the top vote-getter, followed by Damon Seils and Sammy Slade. 

Chapel Hill has sixteen out of twenty-two precincts reporting and is still too close to call (for everyone except Anderson, who looks set for reelection). 

Meanwhile, half of Durham precincts are in, and Gunn is up by thirty votes over Caballero. FWIW, most of the urban core precincts appear to be in. Lots left in West Durham, South Durham, and Northwest Durham, with a few in East Durham. (The gray isn’t in yet.)

9:25 p.m.: New Durham drops, and Caballero is back ahead of Gunn—by seventy-two votes. Nineteen precincts left to go. (We should also note here that Gunn is only seven hundred votes behind the first-place candidate, which is not a lot.) 

9:30 p.m.: CCHCS is done: Dasi, La Serna, Temme, and Powell prevail, with Davidson about six hundred votes short. 

9:33 p.m.: Mayor Schewel walked in with his wife, Lao Rupert, just before 9:15. The mayor, in his customary red bow tie and blazer, acknowledged that voters seem to have elected him to a second term.

“Crystal Blue Persuasion” by the Shondells was on deck as a swarm of reporters gathered around him. Schewel said he’s grateful for a second term and equally satisfied by the vote for the affordable housing bond that won by “a whopping margin.” He described it as the end of a two-year process that will take shape over the next five years.

The mayor also noted other issues that have moved to the forefront: policing, gun violence, and the need to win the trust of the community. He spoke of how all residents need to have a share in the city’s “newfound prosperity.”

Schewel also noted that Gunn held a slight lead over Caballero, whom he endorsed.

“It’s early,” he said. “I’m waiting on the returns to come in. It’s still a ways to go.”

Indeed, Caballero has since edged ahead, though that might have changed again by the time you read this. 

9:35 p.m.: We have final results in Chapel Hill—probably? Anderson, Parker, and Ryan won the first three spots, but the fourth spot … well, just look. 

Tai Huynh, the UNC student, appears to have won by twenty-four votes. And the two candidates behind Nancy Oates lost by not much more than that. That is a close election. Here’s the thing: If you only count the Orange County precincts, Huynh actually lost by one vote; his victory comes via the two precincts of Chapel Hill in Durham County. Crazy. 

9:45 p.m.: Another batch of ballots in Durham, and Caballero has expanded her lead to seven hundred votes over Gunn. 

9:52 p.m.: It’s just before 10:00 p.m. We were about to leave for Gunn’s watch party at Boricua Soul in the American Tobacco District. State Senator Floyd McKissick cruised by in a Smart car.

“That joint looks like a go-kart from the State Fair,” observes longtime Durham resident and union leader Allen “Apple Jack” Redd.

9:56 p.m.: Three precincts still out, and things are tight as a tick in Durham (apologies to Dan Rather). Caballero’s lead is now down to about two hundred votes. As best we can tell, two of those precincts are in Durham County—one is precinct 31 (polling place, the Bethesda Ruritan Club), the other precinct 3 (E.K. Powe Elementary)—and the other is the only Durham precinct in Wake. If we were guessing based on the way things have come in so far, we’d say 31 is good for Gunn, 3 is good for Caballero, but, well, who knows. 

10:00 p.m.: There it is—Caballero comes out ahead with all precincts in. 

10:05 p.m.: About a hundred people gathered outside Boricua Soul in front of a screen that announced that Gunn had lost by about four hundred votes.

Gunn told his supporters that provisional ballots and absentee ballots had yet to be counted. “This is far from a moment of concession,” he said. 

“It’s over, but it ain’t over,” Gunn told the INDY. “There’s a recount.”

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One reply on “Follow Along With the INDY’s Election Night Live Blog!”

  1. With Johnson, Reece, and Caballero re-elected, we can ensure crime/murder will continue to be a problem in Durham. Sad.

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