Name as it appears on the ballot: Nate Baker
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Campaign Website: http://www.natefordurham.com
Occupation & employer: Urban Planner (Assists cities and counties with developing comprehensive plans and rewriting zoning ordinances)
Years lived in North Carolina: 25
1) In your view, what are the most important issues currently facing Durham County? If elected, what would be your top three priorities?
We face many enormous challenges – from providing good jobs and good housing under an austerity federal economic system, to finally ending out-of-control automobile-oriented sprawl and achieving climate resiliency, to adequately funding our schools under a volatile state and federal climate. We owe it to ourselves, our communities, and future generations to overcome these challenges and more. Yet, our residents feel that their voices are not important, and that they are not being heard. Most don’t feel meaningfully empowered to collectively shape Durham, from requesting and receiving a bus stop shelter to planning for the future of their neighborhoods and communities to make life better for all. The only way we can accomplish the enormous tasks ahead is by enacting structural reform that meaningfully and intentionally empowers the residents of Durham with the tools to collectively work as visionaries and decision-makers.
Too often, people are told that their struggles are their fault and that their individual experiences within an entirely broken economic framework are personal failings. We have come to accept inadequate changes around the margins of issues like crumbling housing conditions, sprawl that defines all of our new growth, financing that penalizes low-wealth people, limited mobility options that strand the poor, young, elderly, and physically disabled, under-resourced school districts and burgeoning charter schools that further sort people by race and class, and jobs that overwork and under-pay.
While the scope of power for the Durham County Commission is limited, I pledge to intervene to enact systemic change that truly empowers people to shape the world around them in a way that transcends mere politicians and elections. I have prioritized three areas:
1) Meaningfully empower people. I plan to enact structural reform that replaces our top-down government and economy with one that is bottom-up, community-driven, and that meaningfully empowers the residents of Durham to be visionaries and decision-makers. This is the unifying theme underlying my campaign’s roadmap to a better Durham.
2) Plan sustainably and achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. Future generations will look back on the short window we have to act on sustainability and determine whether or not we acted boldly to end fiscally and environmentally irresponsible, low-density, automobile-oriented sprawl that eats up farmland and wildlife habitat on our periphery. If I am elected, we will end suburban sprawl and dramatically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. As a professional urban planner, I have the expertise and experience to end sprawl and transform our built environment to make it walkable, transit-oriented, inclusive, and green.
3) Expand opportunity and achieve equity. It is unjust that skin color and zip code determine access to opportunities and health outcomes in Durham. Durham residents should have access to high-quality public education, housing, healthcare, and nutrition. My proposed policy changes will free up resources for investment in these essential human rights, and my economic development policies will create more democratic, homegrown workplaces.
2) What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the Board of Commissioners? Please be specific.
I am a professional urban planner, and a member of the Durham City-County Planning Commission, with a strong background in working with and empowering communities to achieve sustainable and equitable long-term growth. I am a Durham Public Schools K-12 graduate and strong advocate of public schools. I am also a Fulbright Research Fellow, and have spoken at conferences on sustainable metropolitan governance in various states, Brazil, and South Africa. As an urban planner, I have worked on a dozen comprehensive plans across the South and multiple comprehensive UDO rewrite projects from Pennsylvania, to the Carolinas, to Alabama and Texas.
On the Durham City-County Planning Commission I have served as a leading environmental voice, advocating for green building requirements and incentives that reduce energy use, requirements for street trees on all streets, protections of critical green spaces, growth management criteria and map tools, building design standards that enhance walkability, zoning standards that require housing and land use variety, centralized civic space, and street network connectivity. I have also fought to enhance equity and access and reduce automobile-dependence. All of these standards represent critical changes to Durham’s Unified Development Ordinance – the “DNA” of the community – that are necessary to achieve the greatest impact in advancing a greener and more equitable society, coupled with multimodal capital investment planning. I have been more than a strong advocate, but an effective one too. I have successfully won multiple majority votes against anti-environment development proposals. I also successfully lobbied and won requirements that developers double the amount of sidewalk in their developments at no cost to the taxpayer. I continue to fight for small and large changes, but I need the power of the elected office to be able to move Durham toward a more sustainable and walkable future.
As a senior urban planning consultant, I have worked with numerous cities and counties across the country to foster meaningful community-wide discussion about climate issues and achieve community-driven solutions for greener regulations, policies, and programs. In Greenville, NC, I worked to help advance land use patterns to address decades of racial environmental justice issues with displaced populations in the floodplain north of the Tar River. I helped the community adopt significant stream buffer policies and made climate resiliency key to growth and development. In Davidson, North Carolina, I helped lead the effort to incorporate climate and energy adaptation into their comprehensive plan, including a commitment to developing a climate action plan and achieve carbon neutrality in town operations. In other communities, I am drafting green building requirements and incentives that will make every new building more climate and energy resilient, and new greenfield development standards that require developer set-asides and pedestrian-oriented development patterns. There are numerous other examples of highly impactful and climate-related policy and regulatory work that I have conducted in communities across the South and the United States.
3) One of Durham County government’s primary responsibilities is school funding. A 2018 report from ProPublica found a wide gap between black and white DPS students in terms of discipline, achievement, and opportunity; it also rated DPS high in segregation. Is there anything the county can or should be doing to combat these issues?
In 2020, we should already have achieved integration and equity in our schools and district lines should not sort classrooms along income, race, ethnicity, or any other demographic characteristic.
Resegregation. Segregation isn’t just failing to go away, for years, our schools have been resegregating. Our land use policy, which encourages and rewards homogenous leapfrog sprawl and car-dependent single-family neighborhoods on the periphery of our city, is a major driver of resegregation. Such development, and the redistricting and new schools that are built to accommodate it, will continue to exacerbate the problem until we radically rethink how we develop our neighborhoods, and do it in a way that is more equitable and diverse, and less car-dependent.
We need to ensure all our neighborhoods, old and new, provide a dense compact variety of housing types and tenure options, including social housing, so that our neighborhoods diversify and our schools too can diversify. We need to understand that our schools segregation challenge has much to do with neighborhood homogeneity. We should work to diversify our neighborhoods and schools.
Finally, related to neighborhood development, we can find ways to increase school funding by improving our development patterns. Durham’s allowance of large and unsustainable noncontiguous land masses to be annexed into the city and developed as low density automobile oriented sprawl has enormous long term fiscal costs, including the cost and delivery of utilities and services, like solid waste, emergency services, transit, and school buses for the city and the county.
Discipline. We know that discipline is more severe and unforgiving for black and brown children than for white children, and that we have created a school-to-prison pipeline. I am a strong supporter of the adoption of restorative practice in the schools, including the shift to Restorative Practice Centers as a replacement for In-School Suspension.
Achievement and opportunity. DPS is being given the increasingly challenging task of serving all Durham students with limited resources from the state and federal governments. Class sizes are still too big, administrators have a significant amount of work on their plates, and there are simply not sufficient levels of support staff such as counselors, nurses, psychologists, although the situation has improved recently. There are also schools that are by some measures underperforming for a host of complex and interrelated reasons. I believe that education should be the top priority for the county commission and that we should seek to fund schools at or above the national average.
I am excited about the implementation of the community schools model in our elementary schools. The expansion of Pre-K, in coordination with the county government, eventually to all four year olds is important, and believe that it is one of the keys to closing the achievement gap.
There are some advancements at individual schools as well, such as the commitment by schools to provide free universal school meals and programs, and those at Southern High School, creating different pathways to serve all students for graduating with options for employment or college work. DPS has also worked to support new teachers, more than most districts, including a 3-year teacher mentoring program to help keep new teachers in the classroom. And there are many other things that DPS is doing well and that should be celebrated and work continued. In addition to programs, we must invest in improving teacher pay and professional development.
4) In your view, what effects have charter schools had on education in Durham? Do you believe they have increased segregation, as critics contend? Or have they offered opportunities to those who would otherwise be trapped in poor-performing schools, as supporters say?
I am a public school advocate and a product of the Durham Public Schools system K-12. I believe that all schools should be public and that every child should be provided every opportunity to succeed through public schools. I believe charter schools are a threat to public schools and fear they are a Trojan Horse to privatize our public schools. Furthermore, they have not delivered on their promise to serve as a testing ground for new ideas that can help improve all schools. As a DPS graduate, I encourage all parents to send their children to public schools.
At the societal level, it is our responsibility to provide an excellent and equitable education to everyone and we need to work hard to achieve that goal in Durham. At the individual level, parents are, first and foremost, responsible for their child. When a school is failing a child, it is easy to understand why a parent would feel it necessary to choose an alternative — and sometimes the most available alternative is a charter school.
As long as we are forced to live under a framework that expands charter schools we need to hold them to account and ensure they provide high quality education and are inclusive and equitable. Many charter schools lack busing, cafeterias, and other infrastructure necessary for true equity and that is provided by public schools. I believe in continuing to fight for public schools while maintaining a level of pragmatism that prioritizes high quality and just educational opportunities for all our children.
Many of our schools are segregated because our neighborhoods are segregated. We have much work to do over the coming decade, and that includes systemic changes to our schools and better planning in our neighborhoods. Public school funding is my number one priority as a commissioner and I will find innovative approaches to adequately funding them.
5) The City-County Planning Committee is reviewing and considering revisions to the Comprehensive Plan and Uniform Development Code. What sort of changes would you like to see emerge from this review? What is your vision for growth and development throughout Durham?
*(Minor correction: “Uniform Development Code” should be “Unified Development Ordinance”)
As an urban planner, I have worked on a dozen comprehensive plans across the South and multiple comprehensive UDO rewrite projects from Pennsylvania, to the Carolinas, to Alabama. Comprehensive plans are valuable for both their potential for a robust public process as well as the resulting plan document that lays out a community vision for the future and the blueprint for achieving it. With Ellen Reckhow not running again, Durham is losing its one and only professional planner in elected politics. It is critical that we have a forward-thinking elected trained planner who can help us achieve a dramatically more equitable and sustainable community.
Due to the way Durham grows and develops:
The average Durham resident drives 20,000 miles per year.
Hundreds of acres of wildlife habitat and farmland is converted to low-density automobile-oriented development.
Durhamites spend $12,000 per year on transportation.
Since 1990, Durham’s carbon footprint has increased by a staggering 75 percent
Only four percent of the population has the option of traveling to work without a car
The new Durham Comprehensive Plan should provide a roadmap to radically altering our built and natural environment and making Durham an inclusive, walkable, carbon-neutral community by 2045. While the content of the plan should be driven by public input, not by politicians, I will speak to the direction I believe the community should go. Here are my desired goals and what I want to see in the plan:
Provide integration between our land use policy, economic development strategy, transportation
infrastructure, transit, and affordable housing to ensure we are intentional about meeting our
equity and sustainability goals
Eliminate Durham’s dependency on the automobile for a significant portion of households by 2045
End the construction of new automobile-oriented single-family-only developments
Ensure ALL new infill development and greenfield development is built using walkable and pedestrian-oriented growth and design principles
Ensure all new private-sector buildings meet a minimum level of green building requirements to ensure Durham can meet its carbon neutral goals by 2045.
Protect Durham’s existing stock of naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH)
Ensure all new neighborhoods built on Durham’s periphery are complete, include jobs, services, affordable housing, transit, civic space, multimodal infrastructure, natural space, and a variety of housing options
Establish guidance for connected countywide green infrastructure
Overhaul the way the planning process is implemented in Durham to manage growth and empower residents.
Create a fact-based community profile, with key land use and planning trends that are maintained online with annual or bi-annual updates
Establish a growth management system through a Tiered Growth Map and annexation policies that guide growth, protect, open space, and prohibit leapfrog annexations
Establish a growth management division and a neighborhood planning division in the planning department using existing resources to track and monitor growth, conduct broad ongoing public engagement, and set policy
Establish priority areas for neighborhood, corridor, and area planning projects
Establish clear policy and action direction for UDO updates/rewrite and development approvals
Incorporate as a requirement of approval, that elected officials must visit all sites large rezoning requests by transit before they are permitted to vote
7) What, if anything, should be done to promote meaningful engagement of ordinary residents and neighborhoods in planning and zoning issues in city-county planning?
Our planning systems in Durham are not working for residents and we are seeing the results of that every day with exclusionary and unsustainable development, the continued automobile-oriented built pattern, and the overwhelming feeling of helplessness and powerlessness by residents who feel there is no way that they can shape their community. Under the current system here in Durham, residents have little say in the future of their community. They are primarily only able to respond and react to corporate-driven proposals for change. There is virtually no proactive long-range neighborhood and area planning. As County Commissioner, I will change that.
We need change that provides avenues for residents to be able to collectively shape their neighborhoods through land use and capital needs. That requires restructuring our planning systems so that residents and stakeholders are coming together under an inclusive planning framework to determine the future of the community. As County Commissioner, I will work to establish a neighborhood planning division that conducts ongoing work with neighborhood leaders, residents, businesses, development stakeholders, affordable housing advocates, and other stakeholders to find solutions that benefit everyone while achieving the overarching goals of the community as determined by the comprehensive plan, using tailored neighborhood strategies and approaches. We need to establish “the right to the city,” where collective grassroots imagination and decision- making drives community change rather than a system that uses an antiquated top-down framework that is best suited for maximizing private profit-generation.
The public engagement process is key to neighborhood planning and a truly unique opportunity for public discussions and conversations where members of a community collectively ask, “where are we?” “where are we going?” and “how do we get there?” Successful planning must be community-driven, with significant empowerment of the public to determine their shared future. It must be led by a steering committee consisting of a truly fair and representational cross-section of the community, and provide long-term thinking and direction-setting. Importantly, the plan must be comprehensive, and tie together multiple complex and intertwined issues and strategies like land use, government programs and services, and capital investments.
Finally, we must acknowledge and address the enormous number of negative actions that have been taken in Durham historically and presently – both public and private. We must end our regulations and ongoing actions that negatively impact low income communities. We must have a real conversation about what we did wrong. That means discussion redlining, urban renewal and the destruction of the Hayti District, state-sponsored gentrification in the Southside neighborhood, and ongoing gentrification-inducing policies driven by the neoliberal concept of “filtering.” We must find real comprehensive strategies for reducing the negative impacts of major capital investments. And we must do it with communities, not just for them.
6) City voters passed a $95 million bond to fund affordable housing efforts last year. What more should county government be doing to further housing affordability? In light of the ongoing crisis at McDougald Terrace, what steps can the county take to assist those living in substandard public housing?
Durham has been taking an incremental approach to affordable housing that – despite key accomplishments – has had our governments and stakeholders chasing our tails. We need a cohesive and comprehensive strategy and that starts with investing in a real comprehensive affordable housing plan for the city and the county. The plan should include a vision and goals, as well as strategies, priorities, and timing. The plan would involve a public process with community-generated solutions. Affordable housing is a regional issue and we need to do more through the planning process to work with Triangle Council of Governments and Wake and Orange Counties for better regional affordable housing strategies.
As part of the of the process of designing a comprehensive housing plan, I would:
Fight for an aggressive approach to social housing, that funds the construction of permanent government-owned social housing as well as land banking through community partners like the Durham Community Land Trust.
Establish a loan fund for homeowners to borrow money at low interest rates to construct accessory dwelling units.
Enact measures that protect natural occurring affordable housing (NOAHs)
Advocate for the adoption of a mandatory inclusionary zoning ordinance. There is no legislation that prohibits inclusionary zoning in North Carolina and we cannot wait for enabling legislation at the state level. Furthermore, we have a large majority in the N.C. State Supreme Court and could likely win a state constitutional fight. To legally support our new ordinance, I would fight for the funds to conduct a rigorous nexus study.
Focus not just on housing affordability, as though physical housing structures are isolated from location. We need to focus on neighborhood affordability, and ensure new housing is built to be walkable to the places that residents go on a daily basis, like jobs, services, and transit, because when people are forced into the periphery away from the rest of life’s necessities, they trade housing for transportation costs and we all pay the environmental costs.
Furthermore, I would consistently use my platform as an elected official to constantly speak out on the inadequate federal and state funding on housing. And I would also advocate holding a County Commission meeting in a different DHA development each quarter, so that we make our meetings accessible throughout the community and partake in the governance of Durham within different parts of the community.
7) With the light-rail plan having collapsed, what do you envision as the future of mass transit in Durham? What initiatives would you like to support? What do you believe to be a viable next step?
High quality affordable transit-access is fundamental to the future of Durham. We need frequent, reliable, connected, and expansive service, and the built environment that supports it. We also need to be willing to fund that service, recognizing that it helps low income residents, the environment, and also provides universal benefits to riders and drivers alike.
In the immediate term, we must make some quick changes to our bus service. We should immediately put more busses on the road, and reduce the cost of bus service for those of low-income. I propose, and I will work with GoTriangle and other regional partners, to immediately implement a $365/year bus pass for all regional transit.
It is time to finally construct – and I will fight for – a high quality and comprehensive local and regional bus rapid transit (BRT) system that connects to jobs, housing, and services. That will require political will to both eliminate automobile travel lanes in some places and construct a new lane in other places. I will provide the leadership and backbone to ensure the BRT is built.
Finally, transit will never become what we want it to become if driving continues to be the most convenient mode of travel. So we must transition our land use and transportation infrastructure from what it is today, where only four percent of residents have options beside the car, toward a multimodal system where most residents have multiple realistic ways of getting around. With political courage we can do it. For far too long, policymakers have siloed the issues of housing, land use, and transportation, not realizing that they are inextricably interlinked and interrelated. It is time to view them all together as a way to make Durham inclusive, vibrant, and livable at the individual, neighborhood, community, and metropolitan levels. We cannot and will not ever achieve a high quality transit system if we do not achieve a more compact walkable pattern, with integrated social housing, jobs, civic spaces, services, and nature.
8) Do you believe the county’s current property tax rate is too high, about right, or too low? If you believe it is too high, what programs would you be willing to cut to bring down taxes? If you believe it is about right, how will you accommodate the growing need for services? If you believe it is too low, what programs or initiatives would you be willing to raise taxes to fund?
I am committed to finding more progressive taxation measures that will allow us to raise the funds we need to improve education, transit, housing, social services, and other key county services, without over-burdening low- and moderate income residents. The work I will do to fix our costly land use and growth management policies will result in healthier fiscal balance for Durham, and, consequently, free up per capita monetary resources to invest in our schools over the long run.
9) Property tax hikes can hit lower-income homeowners the hardest, especially those who own homes in gentrifying areas and are already seeing their land valuations rise as well. Is there anything the county can do to make the property-tax system more equitable?
Property tax is a regressive tax which often threatens to unfairly burden low- and middle-income homeowners. Yet the low and increasingly reduced revenue from the state and federal governments requires creative local solutions to raising money and building local power. We must expend resources to explore creative answers to this question through workarounds that achieve a more progressive taxation system. For example, we might explore rebate programs in which every homeowner receives a rebate tied to income after property taxes are paid. There are also property tax relief programs, which must be used but require additional administration and introduce complexity for low-wealth homeowners. I also believe that there are untapped revenue sources in Durham that should be further explored.
10) Since the 2018 election, the county’s new district attorney and sheriff have adopted reforms aimed at making the criminal justice system more equitable. Sheriff Birkhead has declined to honor ICE detainers, for example, while District Attorney Deberry has mostly ended cash bail. Do you believe these reforms are working for Durham residents?
I support the work that has been conducted thus far by Sheriff Birkhead and DA Deberry on these two critical issues.
One issue that is key to the County Commission is oversight of the jail, because the BOCC holds the purse strings and must hold the sheriff’s office accountable for conditions in the jail. The Inside-Outside Alliance brought a lot of important attention to conditions in the jail over the past decade.
Sheriff Birkhead announced decisions to end ICE detainers, and to withhold mugshots of those who have not been convicted of crimes are fair and just. His emphasis on preserving the safety and dignity of detainees in Durham’s jails is much-needed. The Community Advisory Board is an important initiative and I look forward to seeing the initiative mature and produce better outcomes for our community.
I am also a strong believer in the reforms around restorative justice, and it is exciting that Durham is a leader in North Carolina and around the country in achieving justice by this method in the court system. I am particularly excited about the work being done by the Durham I-Team on the Durham Expunction and Restoration Program (https://www.deardurham.org/) as well as their achievements on the Durham Driver Restoration Initiative. The team found that suspended licenses was a barrier to employment for 46,000 Durham residents. About 80 percent of those with suspended licenses were black and brown people, most of whom had their licenses suspended for over a year.
I believe that other opportunities for Durham County to promote restorative justice actually begins by interrupting the school-to-prison pipeline in the schools. I am an enthusiastic supporter of the adoption of restorative practice in the schools, including the shift to Restorative Practice Centers as a replacement for In-School Suspension.
11) Last year, Durham saw a spike in homicides over 2018. What can the county do to address violent crime in the community? Are there preventative steps the county can or should take with regard to mental health? Are there any innovative programs in place elsewhere in the country that you would like to see implemented here?
It is important to me to support Sheriff Birkhead’s current resource priorities. I hold the belief that over time, his initiatives, along with the District Attorney’s and Police Chief’s, will prioritize actions to reduce violent crime and continue to reduce the number of nonviolent detainees in our jails, and that our criminal justice system will be more just. I also believe there are more opportunities to invest in out-of-school activities for our youths, especially activities in safe places.
Mental health – and the lack of access to care – is a major issue. As an elected official, I will use my platform to speak out on and fight for universal healthcare at higher levels of government, but that is not enough and we must also seek local solutions, like New York’s Thrive NYC initiative for mental healthcare. I intend to both leverage existing non-profit and government providers in and around Durham and bring together leaders and experts to support fresh innovations.
The Durham area hosts some of the best mental health training programs in the country. I will work to strengthen partnerships with programs at Duke and UNC, which offer cost-effective ways to provide high-quality and evidence-based care.
Serious mental illness (SMI) such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have prevalence rates below five percent but result in frequent ER visits due to lack of insurance and underinsurance. Increasing funding to local SMI programs could produce significant improvements to outcomes and actually improve cost-effectiveness in ways that would be attractive to the county and local partners.
I also want to enhance programs focused on employment and independent living, which are relatively low-cost and improve outcomes for mental health patients, and decrease ER visits and hospital stays. Program staff for these programs are less specialized than psychiatrists and psychologists, which can reduce costs while maintaining on-call licensed professionals who are integrated into clinical treatment teams.
A key part of improving mental health outcomes is Supported Employment Services, which include working in collaboration with schools and employers to return individuals back to their lives. They also provide direct employment for individuals with mental illness and improve outcomes for those early in recovery. Peer support programs can help one-on-one to improve functioning and reintegration in the community (e.g., attending treatment groups, navigating public transportation, finding social support in the community). Drop-in programs like Club Nova, and creating safe spaces for individuals so that they can access services or spend time in the community are also important. Having staff on-hand is key so that they can make recommendations for resources if they notice symptoms worsening.
Additionally, stable housing, high quality-of-life, green space, affordable transportation, and good jobs result in both prevention and significantly improved outcomes for people living with mental health challenges and are fundamental health strategies.
12) Economic inequality rose significantly in Durham County over the past decade (though it declined somewhat from 2017–18). How can county commissioners address this problem and ensure that the county’s prosperity is more equitable going forward?
Our national, state, and local economic policies have produced the greatest inequality crisis this nation has ever seen. Across the United States, our metropolitan areas are the places of greatest inequality, with a growing trend of the displacement of poor people and the suburbanization of poverty (which likely accounts for the decrease observed by the IndyWeek from 2017-2018).
Despite low unemployment, a thriving economy, and the most productive laborforces in human history, many people are working two or three jobs, aren’t receiving benefits or adequate time off, and are having trouble making ends meet or putting away savings for the future. So how is it possible that so many people – especially poor and middle-class people – are struggling to get by? The core problem with the national economy today is that the value that workers and small businesses are producing is being skimmed off the top, and in Durham much of the profit is being sent away. When Durham residents leave their living and commercial spaces, democratic environments governed by elected officials, they enter their working world, which is less democratic governed by unelected bosses.
We need change in Durham that democratizes the economy, starting small and over time fostering a new economic paradigm. We have focused too much on providing large taxpayer incentive packages to major corporations. Instead,
We need to offer low-interest loans, and make better use of economic development resources, to help entrepreneurs, including low-wealth people who often suffer unfairly from bad credit scores, stimulate home-grown businesses, with deep ties to Durham and the surrounding region.
We also need to think about economic development through a spatial lens. We need to better manage our growth and development which today spreads people and places apart at great expense to the taxpayer, and instead we need to create more fiscally balanced, transit-accessible built and natural environments. We need to bring more jobs closer and make them more accessible to more of our residents, so that they have job choice.
We need to leverage our existing anchor institutions like Durham Tech, Duke, NCCU, our credit unions, and our regional partners and institutions too to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem of worker-owned businesses, where employees have collective control over a dignified work environment and get their fair cut of the profits they generate.
It’s time to think big and empower communities here in Durham for a better, more prosperous economic future.
13) Are there any issues not included in this questionnaire that you would like to address?
I have lived in Durham for most of my life; am a product of the Durham public schools and love and am grateful for this community. I grew up across the street from Northgate Mall in the 1990s, when things were quite different in Durham than they are today. I experienced housing precariousness and eventually lost my childhood house and possessions and moved in with my dad when I was in high school. I grew up looking around and things felt broken and unfair. And now they are even more unfair. These personal experiences play into who I am and in developing my moral compass.
I am passionate about improving Durham for all of its residents, but especially those who have been left behind by dramatic changes over the last decade. I hope to have a hand in transforming our democratic systems to empower our residents.