Raleigh has clearly defined political battle lines, but that’s not really the case in Durham. The mayor and five of six council members are backed by the progressive People’s Alliance PAC. The three incumbents on the October ballot—Charlie Reece, Jillian Johnson, and Javiera Caballero, who was appointed to replace Steve Schewel when he became mayor—are running as a slate and share a platform.
Most candidates agree on the challenges the city faces: access to housing, gentrification, and socioeconomic inequality. The biggest point of contention is whether the council should have authorized additional officers in this year’s budget.
Confidence Level: High
When a city council is operating well—more or less, anyway—we see little reason to change it. Such is the case here. There have been missteps, and there are problems to confront. But the council, among the most progressive in the Southeast, is pushing hard in the right direction. Earlier this month, it passed Expanded Housing Choices, a plan to add density to single-family neighborhoods in the urban core. (Raleigh, take notes.) In November, it will ask voters to approve the largest housing bond in state history. (Raleigh, paying attention?) Durham has also been a leader in reintegrating people involved in the justice system with the community through programs like Welcome Home, and the council has committed to using 80 percent renewable energy by 2030.
The increase in gun homicides this year has been disturbing, to be sure. But it must be viewed in context: Violent crime, on the whole, has declined over the past two years, and we don’t know whether the increase in homicides is a blip or a trend. In any event, throwing a few more cops on the street isn’t likely to staunch the bloodshed.
One challenger did turn our heads: Joshua Gunn—and not just because we appreciate his work as the rapper J. Gunn, which we do. A vice president of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, Gunn offers sharp insights into the city’s approach to economic development. But electing him would mean ousting one of the incumbents—and we can’t figure out which one should go.
Caballero, Johnson, and Reece have done good work. They deserve your vote.
Respond to our endorsements at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.