Name as it appears on the ballot: Monique Holsey-Hyman

Age: 57

Party affiliation: Democrat

Campaign website:

Occupation & employer: Durham City Council Member / Assistant Professor of Social Work

Years lived in Durham: From 2006

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

Housing and Neighborhoods: The City’s goal should be to approve development that provides affordable and sustainable housing and development opportunities for all diverse economic populations, focusing on current residents of Durham and eliminating displacement. To help more Durham residents achieve home ownership, the city should explore innovative strategies like the Down Payment Assistance Program. Additionally, partnering with local realtors to offer rental options and accept rent subsidy vouchers for eligible individuals is crucial.

Safe and Protected Neighborhoods:  Investing in evidence-based programs such as H.E.A.R.T, which address the community’s needs and bring law enforcement together with other vital players for wrap-around services. These services aim to make communities safer by addressing mental health, housing, youth engagement, food insecurity, medical wellness, and dealing with Gun Violence, a national problem. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of innovative intervention strategies, implementation and evaluation metrics must be established, and the outcomes should be transparently communicated with the community.

Equitable Access to Green Space: Support development projects prioritizing sustainable and equitable growth. These initiatives should introduce innovative methods to preserve clean water and safeguard the environment.

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 2022, I applied for the At-Large seat on the Durham City Council and was chosen unanimously from twenty-one other candidates. I wanted to offer my skills in leadership, community organization, and social work that address issues through a “Person in Environment” lens. In addition, I have been trained for over twenty- five plus years to address community problems that include working with individuals (Micro level), with communities and diverse populations and groups (Mezzo level), and collaborating with large organizations in Durham, such as the county, city, and Board of Education (Macro level).

My top priority as a City Council member in Durham is to provide the community with access to outstanding living, work, and leisure opportunities. I have consistently shown dedication to this goal by actively listening to the community’s concerns and working towards practical solutions. I have tackled the problem of insufficient resources for youths who face challenges such as limited access to education, mental health issues, and the resulting increase in community violence. Recently, I organized the first-ever celebration of mentoring programs for the City of Durham Mentoring Month in January 2023, which was a significant achievement for our city.

The objective was to bring together programs that cater to young people and initiate conversations about collaborating to serve more youth in Durham. At first, I faced resistance because I was informed that it was a county responsibility, despite the City having an Office on Youth, a division within the City Manager’s Office that guides youth initiatives in Durham and is funded jointly by the City and County. Furthermore, one of the strategies that emerged from this effort was establishing a city mentoring task force to collaborate and seek funding to serve more youth in Durham. My budget proposal 2023 included a request for $50,000 in new funding for a Durham Mentoring Alliance Pilot Program, which will provide community members with a one-stop-shop for current and accurate information on youth mentoring services. The request was funded. This project aims to combat public safety issues and street violence affecting young people in Durham. Connecting youth programs has the potential to save lives. Since May 2022, when I was appointed, I have been able to work on this initiative.

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.

This year, the City Council passed a budget that prioritized enhancing the well-being of area residents. 

  1. The City’s Durham Minimum Livable Wage (DMLW) was increased to $18.46 per hour ($38,397 annually) starting July 1, 2023.
  2. Vision Zero Durham seeks to increase pedestrian and bicycle safety in high-crash areas by hiring a full-time coordinator.
  3. The Department has received funding to expand HEART, which includes hiring new FTEs and covering corresponding operating costs. Additionally, Legal Aid of North Carolina will continue administering the Durham Expunction and Restoration (DEAR) Program with the provided funding. Furthermore, there is increased funding for ILA contributions towards Project Build and Bull City United.
  4. The City of Durham Mentoring Alliance Pilot has a recurring contract with a community agency to provide a one-stop shop for community members to access updated information about youth mentoring services. (My budget request)

The council had two key areas to address in their budget: providing adequate pay steps for city workers and conducting a comprehensive pay study. The approved budget includes a 2% market adjustment increase for general employees, as well as a pay-for-performance merit system increase ranging from 4% to 6% and a $300 end-of-year bonus. Police and fire sworn employees will receive a 2% pay adjustment, a 5% pay-for-performance merit system increase, and a $300 end-of-year bonus. 

However, the council has not been able to implement necessary step plans for firefighters, police officers, and other city employees. This has resulted in seven firefighters leaving the City of Durham, which puts the safety of residents in danger due to a lack of adequate staff in first responder positions. While investing in a Classification and Compensation Study is a step towards retaining and attracting employees, the money could have been better used to address the issue of step salaries. It is crucial to find a solution to this problem for the sake of the community’s safety and well-being.

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?

Gun violence is a national problem that must be addressed at the federal, state, and local levels. Communities of color are hardest hit by gun violence in cities. There must be a community-wide buy-in to address gun violence in all neighborhoods and from different economic backgrounds. The NC law that required a permit from a local sheriff before buying a pistol is no longer in effect. 

By cutting off their local underground market sources, Durham can reduce the supply of illegal guns. Younger and younger youth are committing violent crimes in Durham. Mentorship and gun prevention education in schools need to begin as early as middle school. To engage high-risk individuals and give them alternatives to violence, Durham must work with law enforcement, street outreach workers, and hospitals.

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?

To ensure that Durham has a strong and long-lasting housing infrastructure, it is crucial to engage with community members, collaborators, and stakeholders to identify areas where housing is inadequate. Policymakers can provide additional rental assistance and other housing resources through supportive housing programs, which can include job placement, financial literacy, case management, mental health, and other healthcare services to assist residents. Moreover, since the City does not oversee housing, the City and County must collaborate to acquire old properties and create RFPs for managing affordable housing units to combat the limited availability of affordable housing. Housing alone cannot fully support the residents of Durham. Appropriate housing must be connected to resources like job opportunities, transportation options, grocery stores, healthcare facilities, recreational activities, and social events. 

Housing should also produce social outcomes for residents’ well-being and mental health. For instance, homes built near parks, walking trails, and green spaces could improve the mental health of those in the surrounding community. Furthermore, supportive housing programs, along with all these wraparound services, can fully support low-income residents. Durham needs to secure resilient housing infrastructure and engage in conversations with community members, collaborators, and other stakeholders to understand better areas where housing infrastructure may be insufficient. Durham must also determine where federal and state funding can be used to meet local needs.

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.

Housing Choice 

My previous work as a housing subsidy liaison gave me insight into the challenges that arise with landlords refusing overdue payments and tenants damaging the property. As a member of Mayor Elaine O’Neal’s housing task force in Durham, I work alongside housing and realtor experts to address these issues. To tackle the problem of landlords’ reluctance to work with specific populations, I plan to create a task committee that will engage with landlords and identify their concerns. Together, we can work to overcome any obstacles. Notably, landlords are more likely to refuse housing vouchers in low-poverty neighborhoods than in high-poverty areas. The expanding of the housing choice has shown how housing and income inequality reinforce one another, effectively splitting into two different economies, economic inequality, and housing inequality. The refusal rates were significantly higher in low-poverty neighborhoods.

Equitable Access to Green Space 

Support development projects prioritizing sustainable and equitable growth. These initiatives should introduce innovative methods to preserve clean water and safeguard the environment. As a member of the Durham City Council, I have developed a strong interest in pursuing social, economic, and environmental justice. I have gained a greater understanding of this critical issue through my role. Many communities throughout our country have been unfairly burdened with ecological injustices. They have been exposed to toxic pollution, lacked adequate infrastructure and services, and suffered the worst of climate change. In Durham, every individual has the right to breathe fresh air, drink clean water, and reside in a healthy community now and in the future.

The budget for this year has allocated $17 million for the Equitable and Green Infrastructure process. This funding will be used for over twenty projects to improve green spaces in underprivileged neighborhoods and fund water quality initiatives, new sidewalks in Bragtown, East Durham, and Merrick Moore communities, and projects related to pedestrian safety, access, and traffic calming. However, particular areas, such as parks with allegedly elevated levels of lead in the soil, disproportionately affect communities facing discrimination and marginalization.

My voting history in the city council shows my commitment to promoting a clean environment for healthier living. I aim to push for policies prioritizing responsible building and growth to protect our city and county’s environment and natural resources, ultimately striving toward a green and equitable Durham. To achieve this, I plan to maintain and improve the current infrastructure and support innovative projects that manage waste and wastewater to ensure clean water for Durham while preserving our environment.


I am thrilled about the task force committee that the mayor proposed, and the council approved. It will provide an opportunity for developers and community partners to address concerns raised by the community regarding the proposal. The planning department also made suggestions to improve the plan, such as just offering affordable housing for a period of five years.

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

Intentional and Equitable Transportation Investment: As a city, we should strive to enhance our transportation systems to make them more affordable, connected, sustainable, reliable, efficient, safe, and user-friendly. It’s vital that we ensure equal access for all members of our community and commit to promoting inclusive public engagement in our decision-making processes.

The Durham City Transportation Department confirms that the Triangle region is one of the fastest-growing areas in the United States. With over 100 individuals relocating daily to our tri-county region, traffic congestion has become a significant concern. To tackle this issue and improve accessibility to jobs, schools, healthcare, and entertainment for a larger population, the Durham County Transit Plan has been implemented as a more extensive regional investment component.

The regional transit improvement plan outlines expanding bus services over the next ten years, which are necessary due to the influx of residents. Additionally, the plan aims to improve bus stops and shelters, as there are areas in Durham that don’t have standard bus stops and shelters. Several residents have reached out to me about not having appropriate bus stop shelters, which are sometimes not ADA accessible. As a community leader and city council member, I advocate for transportation for residents who rely on the system to get to work and home. However, to make these changes, we need more funding and collaboration from surrounding counties.

I fully support the funding for implementing bus rapid transit and building a 37-mile commuter rail system. As Durham’s population continues to grow, traffic gridlocks are increasingly affecting commuter times and safety. Addressing the inequities in the Durham Transportation plan is crucial, and I am committed to working on the connectivity for our Raleigh, Research Triangle Park, Wake, and Orange Counties. The transition system needs to be updated and meet Durham’s rapid needs for a better future.

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

Low Wage Workers: 

As part of their prebudget review, the City Council must consider the option of increasing wages for low-earning city employees. A needs assessment should be conducted to determine if city departments are utilizing their allocated funds effectively. Any excess funds will be reallocated to improve employee salaries.

Uplift Small Businesses:

In the summer of 2020, a fund was established to aid small businesses in recovering from the impact of COVID-19. The fund, initially called the Small Business Recovery Fund, granted loans to 38 small business owners in Durham. Thanks to Duke University’s support, the fund was able to distribute over $800,000 in loans. Similar programs and collaborations with companies coming to Durham should invest in programs that empower small businesses, particularly those belonging to at-risk populations such as women and diverse populations.

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 coming to a decision on a vote?

In my May 2022 interview for a city council appointment, I was questioned on my teamwork abilities. Over the course of my career, I have gained experience working in both large groups and organizations. Upon joining the council, I noticed a lack of mutual respect among some members, which was concerning.

As a member of the council, I have always prioritized the needs of our residents and led by example, especially during times of turmoil. I am committed to being a dedicated team member and leader who speaks up for the people of Durham. The Durham City Council must have members who prioritize the community’s interests and avoid personal bias to advance their own collective agenda for the residents. 

I have extensive knowledge and experience in teaching leadership, community organization, and administration. I hold a Doctorate in Education, Administration, and Leadership. The mayor needs to have a dedicated team that can work collaboratively for the betterment of Durham and the welfare of its residents. I prioritize the needs of the community and its residents, as evidenced by my voting history. I always make sure to provide informed disclosure regarding every case, and I thoroughly review the agenda item and all supplementary information. I pay close attention to the planning commission’s votes and read all of their comments, as they serve as an advisory board to the council. Many of the board members are experts in planning and development. Additionally, I consistently review the amount of affordable housing offered and any other proffers. I ask the following questions:

  • Can you provide an estimate of the price range for the homes? 
  • To what extent is the builder involved in the local community and have they engaged with the community?  
  • Is there any potential harm to the environment? 
  • Will there be any blasting involved in the construction process?

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

The Durham City Council has increased police officers’ pay, but the department still faces difficulties with recruitment and retention. This may be due in part to the culture and certain council members’ past efforts to defend the police. To address these issues, we should continue recruiting nationally and offer affordable housing options for city employees. Additionally, we can establish partnerships with educational institutions that allow police academy training to count towards degree requirements. To make progress, we need to introduce creative strategies and start encouraging interest in first responder jobs at an early stage in career development.

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

Dr. Monique Holsey-Hyman has been diligently serving the City of Durham since being appointed to the City Council over a year ago. She has accomplished several noteworthy feats during this time, including introducing the Support Youth Mentoring Service Act and advocating for the Act to Allow Inclusionary Zoning for Affordable Housing. Both items were submitted by the Durham City Council and were accepted to be placed on the NC Legislative Action List. Dr. Holsey-Hyman also established the first City of Durham and NC Central University Collaboration Pipeline for Jobs and Internships Committee, organized the “Amplify Mentoring” event for National Mentoring Month, and provided a resolution for Supporting Safe and Protective Measures to Foster Healthy Learning Environments in Durham Schools. She was able to have a budget item approved for 2023 which was The City of Durham Mentoring Alliance Pilot to review community agencies   and to provide a one-stop shop for community members to access updated information about youth mentoring services. 

Dr. Holsey-Hyman is a devoted member of Mayor Elaine O’Neal’s “Deep Dive of Housing” subcommittee. She was crucial in facilitating cooperation between NC Central University and the Prescription for Repair initiative. Additionally, she helped the City of Durham’s Community Safety Department’s H.E.A.R.T program by providing the first social work interns from NC Central University. Mayor Elaine O’Neal recognized her contributions by presenting her with the Humility Proclamation for the Mayor and City of Durham. Dr. Holsey-Hyman is a committed Durham City Council member who strives to serve her community and advocate for its residents.

Since being appointed to the council, she has received calls daily from residents who need help to obtain adequate housing at all income levels. Keep her in my seat to fight for sustainable and affordable housing. 

She hears firsthand how rapid building affects the well-being of all residents of Durham. In Southeast Durham, long-time residents are dealing with water quality issues, heavy traffic, and blasting, causing infrastructure problems. 

Keep her in my seat as a strong advocate for environmental justice for the well-being of all residents. 

She advocated for the expansion of the H.E.A.R.T. program. She will work with the city council and the Durham Community Safety Department to expand the Care Navigation component to provide wrap-around services for the entire needy family and prevent additional crises. Keep her in my seat to continue the fight for innovative strategies that address the critical need for safer communities. 

She is a servant leader, and the community has seen my commitment to the people of Durham demonstrated by my voting record and respect for the community. The city has seen my resilience and dedication. ONE BULL: ONE IM PACT: No more Haves and Nots. 

She will be that bull with you, the community, to eliminate obstacles and engage in solution-focused strategies for the people of Durham.

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