Name as it appears on the ballot: Bonita Green

Age: 62

Party affiliation: Democrat

Campaign website:

Occupation & employer: Executive Director, Merrick-Moore Community Development Corporation  (MMCDC)

Years lived in Durham: 11

1) Please identify the three most pressing issues you believe Durham faces and how you believe the city should address them.

Public Safety: Durham residents, current and new, want their city to be a safe place to live. A top priority item for my campaign is to ensure all of Durham’s city employees receive equitable compensation so that they cannot only afford to live in Durham but also thrive in this great city. We are losing our most experienced workers to neighboring cities daily. Durham has model programs in place to train, particularly our first responders. The city must continue to retain our most experienced. There are various tools to deal with crime, such as youth programs, particularly those that address the needs of our male youth population. As a city, we can also provide resources and support to the entire family. Statistics show that male children perform better in school when two parents are in the household, regardless of gender. 

Housing: New trends in nationwide development have resulted in homes for those at 80%AMI and below being removed from the for sale to the for rent category, thus leaving a vast shortage of homes available for purchase. To qualify for market-rate housing, one would need a salary upwards of $80,000.00. My ideas for creating housing include creating public-private partnerships with private developers who will incorporate small house plans (under 1500 sq ft), reaching across to the County government to pool resources such as property or vacant buildings to build creative housing solutions, one being tiny home communities. 

Livability: For Durham to be where people want to live, we must increase staffing for police and fire departments across all departments. We must pay a competitive wage compared to our neighboring cities to retain our employees. Durham must factor infrastructure and public transportation into the budget. Durham ranks 138th out of 145 cities on poor infrastructure. We need more robust environmental policies to protect our greenspaces and waterways. Developers must be held accountable for the ecological damage to wells and homes they have created. 

2) What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective as a member of the city council and as an advocate for the issues that you believe are important?

In my role at MMCDC, my day-to-day functions are operational nuts and bolts of raising awareness of community needs and connecting them with needed services. “I’ve been working in the Durham Community since 2018”. Under the City of Durham, I was awarded the Community Partners Development Certificate, Participated in the 2023 cycle of Participatory Budgeting and Feasibility Committee, and helped to develop the Cortico Listening Voices portal for the City of Durham. I have worked for three Fortune 500 companies in middle management, leading responsibilities of building teams, conducting train-the-trainer programs, managing top-tier market clients, overseeing budgets, reading profit and loss statements, and managing all deliverables. 

3) What’s the best or most important thing the city council has done in the past year? Alternatively, name a decision you believe the council got wrong or an issue you believe the city should have handled differently. Please explain your answer.

The best thing was not to raise taxes.

The worst thing has been improper planning for the growth of the city and the wages of city staff, along with the environmental justice issues that are a direct result of rapid over-development. Durham ranks 138th out of 145 cities nationwide for poor infrastructure. We must implement a safer streets plan and build a better public transportation system. We must also work alongside the County Government to improve our public education system. Families do not want to move to Durham due to crime and a failing public education system. 

4) The city has seen an uptick in shootings since last year, including recent tragic homicides that claimed the lives of children. Gun violence is obviously a multifaceted problem with no simple solution at the local level. But, in your view, what can or should the city be doing to stem the tide of violence that it isn’t doing now?

As a community, we have not found the answer to this challenging question. I have considered a few ideas: community policing, better street lighting in dark spaces, cleaning up trash, and environmental overgrowth. More quantitative data on our success (HEART, ShotSpotter); “I will listen to and empower communities.” We don’t want Durham to become a Cop City; we must do a better job building relationships between law enforcement and the community—low to no-cost Youth Programming and overall family support.

We need officers committed to Durham, and as a city, we must have competitive salaries to maintain experienced staffing. The current practice of paying up to $8K in incentives to new officers to watch them leave the community is not fiscally responsible. Durham City government should focus more on retaining existing officers; we need to see officers as humans and assets of the community, not liabilities or political pawns.

5) What can or should the city be doing to support people who are not in control of their own housing (including renters, the unhoused, and those whose homes are owned by banks) as costs of living skyrocket?

I will work to create and preserve dedicated affordable housing units, align the housing supply with market and current neighborhood housing conditions, and generate policy protections to protect against displacement.

6) Describe your vision for sustainable growth and development in Durham, including your view of how Expanding Housing Choices has impacted Durham’s communities and built environment since the policy’s passage in 2019; your thoughts on SCAD and the extent to which developers should be involved in shaping the city’s zoning codes; and an example of a municipality you believe has made smart decisions related to growth and development that could be similarly implemented in Durham.

The council needs paths to bring affordable housing to the city; EHC did not do that; SCAD is going to be great for developers, but not existing residents; the community deserves to have the input and direction of any changes; the objective and goal of a text amendment change is to be minor, not exploited to make massive changes like SCAD proposes. 

Directions a city could go: housing for all income levels, mindful of keeping greenspace as we grow, promoting environmental health by caring for our waterways and mitigating heat island effects; prioritizing the wellbeing of existing residents; density should be in the downtown core; avoid sprawl; need more starter homes. 

6) In August, the city released a report showing lead-contaminated soil in several parks in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods in Durham. What can or should the city be doing to address existing environmental injustices and prevent further ecological racism as Durham expands?

The citizens of Durham need our government to be more transparent about these processes. They know about this and need to move promptly with a treatment plan and actively talk and listen to residents who live here. What is not required is the abuse of some council members who have spoken condescendingly towards community members. I would like to see City and County governments work together on providing testing for all ages, followed by a treatment plan for those with high levels of lead in their body. I would follow up with those testing positive, with DPS on testing behavioral problems to ensure they are not improperly labeled difficult. 

7) What are the city’s most pressing transit needs?

We’ve outgrown the single hub and spoke model–we need more connecting routes that don’t always force everyone downtown; we need to move forward with Bus Rapid Transit, open to smaller buses serving additional ways, with designated bus lanes to help buses move smoothly across the city.  

8) What can or should the city be doing to uplift low-wage workers? To uplift small businesses?

Support unions of local workers; challenge pre-emption law. As someone who has been a small business owner in the past, small businesses are the backbone of the local economy. Support a circular economy that keeps commerce local; stop tax breaks and incentives to large companies who come and go; support trades training; support youth jobs;

9) How do you currently, or how do you plan to, engage with constituents across all of Durham’s demographics? Building on that response, how do you currently, or how do you plan to, weigh differing insights from constituents, fellow council members, city staff, and advisory committees when deciding on a vote?

In working in coalition and collaboratively with others, I surround myself with experts who know more than me about topics, understanding that decisions are not made independently but require collaboration and negotiation for the best outcome. I have experience with this in the private sector and my community advocacy work.

10) How should Durham’s city council address first responder vacancies? 

Immediately raise wages based on the 2019 salary study; follow up with a 2023 – 2024 salary study. Durham’s wages for city employees must be competitive with our neighboring cities to maintain our experienced first responders. 

11) If there is anything else you would like to address, please do so here.

We need council members focused on Durham rather than on a national agenda. City residents deserve council members who prioritize Durham residents’ needs rather than what people outside of Durham think about Durham. The general public elects public officials to represent their wants and needs. I will be accountable to the people of Durham.

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