After much consideration and conversation with my family, mentors, colleagues, and friends, I have chosen not to seek a third term on the Durham City Council.
Over the last seven and a half years, I have had the profound honor of working with some of the greatest public servants and community organizers in the country. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to help build programs that will have a lasting impact on the community that I love. Our significant investments in affordable housing across the city, our bold climate and sustainability agenda, our work to broaden and strengthen democracy through participatory budgeting and equitable engagement, and especially the success and growth of the HEART crisis response program, are efforts that I am particularly proud to have been a part of. This is by far the most impactful and rewarding work that I’ve ever done.
It’s also been some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. This is not just because the work itself is hard. Local government is both closest to the people and has the least amount of power, and that contradiction inevitably leads to frustration in the public and among elected officials themselves. This work is slow and incremental, but people need change now. There are critical problems in our communities that our local governments lack the power to address in transformative ways, but people need us to solve them. Distrust in government as a whole and of elected officials in particular is high, and bad actors prey on that distrust to spread lies and half-truths. It’s hard to make sure people know the truth and understand real trade-offs, and to make the truth matter. It’s hard to make change when others find it useful to their own political goals to see everything you do in the worst possible light.
As someone who came into governing out of social movement work with a commitment to cooperative governance, I have found this political environment particularly challenging to navigate. I have been fortunate that over the years, movement partners and I have found ways to work together collaboratively and make real change happen, and I’m grateful for this. There have also been times when we failed to collaborate effectively, failed to communicate, and trust was lost on both sides. I deeply believe that the collaborative governance model is the right one, and it’s worth doing the hard work of building lasting and trusting connections between community partners and elected officials to make that model possible and effective. As all of us have learned more and built more trust with each other over the years, I’ve seen these efforts improve. I believe they will continue to improve if we keep listening to each other, being transparent, and supporting our leaders to do their best work, not just holding them accountable when they don’t.
What has kept me going and made it possible for me to do this work is undoubtedly having had an incredible support team. I am grateful to my campaign teams for both my 2015 and 2019 campaigns, to my colleagues that I have worked with closely on policy over the years, and to the incredible members of the Local Progress network, in particular our NC chapter members. I am also deeply grateful to my family and my village, in particular my partner Paul and my kids Elias and Langston for putting up with 8 years of long hours, late meetings, last-minute takeout, and being dragged to endless community meetings and events.
What’s next? I’ll be continuing my current work in grantmaking as the North Carolina State Advisor for Movement Voter Project when I leave office, and am glad I will be able to give this important work more of my attention and capacity during the critical 2024 election year. I’ll also be staying on the board of Local Progress, helping progressive elected officials turn their vision into reality in cities across the country. I look forward to spending more time with the people I love, getting more rest, playing board games, cuddling babies, and being in the streets.
I also plan to do everything I can to support future candidates who share my vision for our community and will take on our shared agenda for a Durham where everyone can thrive. So much more work is needed to achieve that vision. Increasing our affordable housing investments with another bond issue, expanding and growing the HEART program, increasing our sustainability commitments, continuing our work toward shared economic prosperity, and growing our equitable community engagement and democracy-building efforts will require that we elect people who are good critical thinkers, have great values, and use a collaborative, low-ego approach. I’m committed to helping those people get elected and to supporting them while they do the work that our community needs.
Thank you for your support, your care, and your commitment to making Durham a city for all.
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