One of the more intriguing political challengers in the Triangle, if not the state, this cycle was rap artist and businessman Joshua Gunn, who ran for the Durham City Council and came within four hundred or so votes of pulling it off last week. 

But on Monday, Gunn conceded to third-place finisher Javiera Caballero, who made history by becoming the first Latinx person elected to the city council. Incumbents Jillian Johnson and Charlie Reece were also re-elected. 

“The final votes are in, and at this time I would like to congratulate Councilwoman Johnson, Councilman Reece, and Councilwoman Cabellero on a successful campaign and victory,” Gunn said in a news release.

When the unofficial results were tallied on Tuesday, Gunn—who scored endorsements from the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, Friends of Durham, and the Fraternal Order of Police—a little over 1,200 votes separated him from Johnson, the top finisher, and he was just 395 votes away from Caballero, who finished third.

About thirty-five thousand people voted. 

Gunn ran on a platform of enhancing safety in high-crime neighborhoods and improving economic opportunities for the city’s working-class communities. 

He thanked his supporters and campaign team—and took a shot a the influential People’s Alliance PAC, which endorsed the incumbents. 

“Before this election, there was a sentiment that our votes no longer count,” Gunn said. “The PA’s voice had become so dominant that I was told, ‘The election doesn’t happen in November, it happens at the PA endorsement meeting.’ We were one neighborhood away. One church congregation, one sorority away from restoring the voice of all people in Durham’s democracy. They hear us now y’all. They see us. And we ain’t going nowhere.”

He continued: “Let’s be clear, while we have not gained a seat on the city council, this is a victory. It was three against one”—a reference to the three incumbents running as a slate. “What we overcame was incredible.”

He also hinted that he’s not ready to leave Durham politics, saying he’s “still in a fight for a Durham that works for all people.”

“There’s much more to be done. This city needs us,” he said. “Please don’t give up; I most certainly will not.”


Contact staff writer Thomasi McDonald at tmcdonald@indyweek.com. 

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One reply on “Joshua Gunn Concedes in the Durham City Council Race”

  1. Enough! This is the fourth or fifth column this author has written praising Joshua Gunn. He’s pretty and all, but come on! Is McDonald angling for a job on Gunn’s campaign Staff? Why haven’t all the other candidates gotten equal time?

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