The Bull City’s election season kicks off with a virtual candidates’ forum this week hosted by the People’s Alliance political action committee.

The two and a half hour forum is set for Thursday and will begin at 6 p.m.

The candidates who will participate in the municipal elections are campaigning for mayor, along with Council Wards I, II and II, according to the PA PAC press release.

The mayoral race is wide open after incumbent mayor Steve Schewel, first elected in 2017, announced he would not seek another term in front of city hall last month. The outgoing mayor said he wants to spend time with his new grandbaby.

Seven candidates are vying for mayor. Two of the most intriguing are Javiera Caballero, who filed at the last minute and made history when she became the first Latinx person elected to the council in 2019 (she was appointed to serve on the council in 2018 to fill Schewel’s seat when he was elected mayor), and the pioneering former superior court judge Elaine O’Neal, who is also a retired interim dean of the N.C. Central University Law School.

The other mayoral candidates are real estate broker Rebecca Harvard Barnes, who is calling for inclusion, along with environmental, public safety and judiciary reforms; Charlitta Burruss, an evangelist who works in embattled East Durham neighborhoods; polymath Sabrina “Bree” Davis, who wants to address the gun violence, food and housing insecurity that has plagued parts of the city; Jahnmaud Lane, who has announced on social media that crime in the city is out of control and that he is “firmly against” equity, Critical Race Theory, and teacher unions; and Daryl Quick, who says he wants to build a better city by addressing homelessness, youth issues, and increased pay for low-wage workers.

As the INDY previously reported this week, Friday was the filing deadline for candidates running for the offices of Durham mayor, and for city council seats in Wards I, II, and III.

In Ward I, three candidates are challenging city council incumbent DeDreana Freeman: they are Waldo Fenner, Marion Johnson, and Elizabeth Takla.

In Ward II, Robert Curtis and Sylvester Williams are challenging incumbent Mark-Anthony Middleton

In Ward III, AJ Williams and Leonardo Williams are vying to replace Pierce Freelon, who opted not to seek a full term after he was appointed to a seat left vacant in April by Vernetta Alston, who joined the General Assembly. 

(Full disclosure, AJ Williams is the child of this writer.)

Durham’s primary for mayor and Wards and I and II takes place October 5, with the top two vote-getters in each race advancing to the municipal election November 2. (The Ward III race will automatically appear on the November ballot.)

The candidates will introduce themselves during the People’s Alliance PAC forum and answer moderated questions from the event’s attendees.

This event is open to the public. You can join the Zoom meeting using the following information:

Meeting ID: 253 695 7263

Passcode: 279705

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