Here are the official Durham municipal election results.
It’s official: retired superior court judge and former law school dean Elaine O’Neal is the Bull City’s mayor-elect.
A little over an hour and a half after the polls closed Tuesday night, O’Neal held a commanding 85 percent of the vote against challenger Javiera Caballero, the city council member who suspended her campaign after the city’s municipal primaries.
As expected, city council incumbents Mark-Anthony Middleton and DeDreana Freeman also won convincingly.
Middleton will continue to represent Ward II after soundly winning nearly 90 percent of the vote against perennial municipal candidate Sylvester Williams.
Meanwhile, Freeman’s campaign to continue building equity in the state’s bluest city convinced nearly 75 percent of the voters to reward her with a second term in Ward I.
The night’s most intriguing race was also the closest where newcomers AJ Williams and Leonardo Williams were involved in a nail-biter for the Ward III seat that was left open after Pierce Freelon opted to not seek a full term.
Freelon was appointed to the seat this spring after council member Vernetta Alston joined the General Assembly.
By 9:12 p.m, Leonardo Williams was hanging onto a little over two point lead in the Ward III race.
It’s Looking Like a Low Turnout Municipal Election Again in the Bull City
Polling sites closed at about 7:32 p.m., and early returns are expected to be made public at about 7:45 p.m.
Low voter turnouts are usually par for the course for off-year, municipal elections. One site in Bahama reported about 100 voters by early afternoon, while another in West Durham reported about 200 voters by 4 p.m.
It was just after 7:32 p.m. when Antonio Jones, chair of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, spoke with the INDY after voting at a voting site on Southern High School’s campus.
“I would be surprised if 15 percent [of the county’s registered voters] showed up,” Jones said.
With so much on the line, and mindful of the stern admonition that elections have consequences, one can’t help but wonder if democracy is in trouble.
She Suspended Her Mayoral Campaign Following the Municipal Primary, But What if Javiera Caballero Wins?
Caballero, who made history in 2019 when she became the first Latina elected to the city council, bowed out of the mayoral race last month after she finished a distant second with about 25 percent of the vote behind retired judge Elaine O’Neal in the city’s municipal primaries.
Caballero’s name still appears on voters’ ballots for today’s general election and during the early voting period that began October 14.
The odds are against her, but what if Caballero wins?
The city council member could not be reached for comment about an hour before the polls are set to close.
Ward II Candidate Sylvester Williams’ Election Night Bible Study
On a day when most of Durham’s political candidates are readying to gather at spots in the downtown district for election watch parties, perennial mayoral candidate Sylvester Williams is holding a Bible Study at a community center on Angier Avenue.
Williams, a pastor and retired financial analyst, ran for city council in 2009, before mounting his first run for mayor in 2011.
Williams hasn’t come to winning. The Durham native says he failed to garner endorsements of the Durham Committee on the Affair of Black People, and the Durham Business and Professional Chain, even after securing contracts for Black business participation with the construction of a downtown hotel.
“I realize Black people are blindly voting without understanding what’s going on,” Williams answered when asked, why does he keep running.
Williams, who is staunchly anti-LGBTQ, says power brokers are trying to turn Durham into San Francisco—“there no such thing as LGBTQ. There are eight billion people on the planet and everyone of them comes from a man and a woman” —-while he wages a one-man campaign to keep the Bull City on the straight and narrow.
“Durham is not building homes for families,” he says. “They’re not building homes for children,” Williams added when asked how would he address gentrification.
The retired financial analyst says the $95 million housing bond touted by outgoing Mayor Steve Schewel will not benefit those most in need of assistance, but instead private developers.
He says the funds should have been used to restore low income communities, along with unused funds in the city and county coffers when plans for the light rail fell through and home ownership grants.
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