Leonardo Williams and Mike Woodard are set to square off next month to become Durham’s next mayor.
Williams was able to balance campaigning with his responsibilities on council and build a strong coalition of voters. He led the primary results receiving 51.28 percent of total ballots cast. Woodard came in second with 29.04 percent of the votes. Sitting council member DeDreana Freeman was the next closest candidate with 14.10 percent of the votes. Only the top two mayoral candidates move on to the general election.
Freeman will remain in her current council seat until 2025. If Williams wins the mayoral race, the incoming council will have to vote on candidates to fill his Ward 3 vacancy. He will remain on council until 2025 if Woodard wins. Woodard, who is currently serving as a state senator, can also return to his seat if he’s not elected mayor.
In addition to the two mayoral candidates, Durham will elect three of the six remaining at-large council candidates in November: Nate Baker, Javiera Caballero, Carl Rist, Khalilah Karim, Shelia Ann Huggins, and Monique Holsey-Hyman.
With endorsements from the Triangle DSA and the Committee, Baker has established a wide-reaching base of supporters. He edged out Caballero by 125 votes as the top vote recipient in the city council primary race at 18.27 percent. Rist was not far behind them, receiving 17.63 percent of total votes. Both incumbents, Caballero and Holsey-Hyman, still have a shot at returning to council, though Holsey-Hyman’s path seems more uncertain with only 8.19 percent of the vote.
Roughly 11.64 percent—23,683 of Durham’s 203,545 eligible voters—cast a ballot in the primary. This is slightly higher than the percentage of total voters in the primary in 2021. Durham has never gotten higher than 15 percent of ballots cast for a municipal primary, and voter turnout for the primary tends to be lower than the general election.
Durham’s 37th precinct in the northwestern part of the city brought in the most votes with 1575 cast. Only five other precincts totalled more than a thousand ballots cast. Those precincts covered the southern and western-most parts of Durham in neighborhoods such as Forest Hills and Woodcroft.
Check out the INDY’s endorsements, candidate questionnaires, and the one-on-one interviews with candidates for a refresher on the candidates who are still in the race going into the general election next month.
Early voting for the general election starts October 19. Election Day is November 7. Learn more about early voting at the Durham County Board of Elections website.