Dear INDY readers and voters, 

Welcome to our first slate of endorsements for the 2021 local election cycle. 

Early voting for Durham’s primary municipal election begins this week, and we want to bring you the resources you need to head to the polls well-informed. To make our endorsements in these races, we relied heavily on our own reporting from the past year. We also considered messages from Durham residents and community members, endorsements from local leaders and PACs, read candidate questionnaires submitted to us and other outlets, and decided, as a staff, who we truly believe will be the best representatives to lead the Bull City over the course of the next two- or four-year terms. 


Durham Mayor 

Elaine O’Neal 

Other candidates: Javiera Caballero, Rebecca Barnes, Charlitta Burruss, Sabrina “Bree” Davis, Jahnmaud Lane, Daryl Quick

The two frontrunners in the Durham mayor’s race—council member Javiera Caballero and retired judge Elaine O’Neal—are both exceptionally qualified, experienced, and pioneering public servants. 

Appointed as an at-large council member in 2018 and elected to the seat in 2019, Caballero is the first Latina to serve on Durham’s city council and a champion for the city’s growing immigrant and refugee populations. 

Not only has Caballero advocated for inclusion in city government processes, but she has achieved outcomes: she helped build a language-access program and pushed for funding for an immigrant and refugee coordinator; she helped establish an immigrant legal defense fund, and she organized community members and health care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Caballero is a solid supporter of city initiatives on affordable housing, sustainability, and community-centered policing. By all accounts, she’s an engaged, hard-working, kind, and dedicated leader. 

Elaine O’Neal has spent a 28-year-long career in the judiciary, including as the first woman elected to the county’s Superior Court. In addition to her work in the judicial system, the Durham native served as interim dean of N.C. Central University’s law school and chaired Durham’s 17-member Racial Equity Task Force, which submitted a comprehensive report last summer. 

As mayor, O’Neal will be well-positioned to implement the actionable recommendations as outlined in the report from the Racial Equity Task Force that she led. She might have to ruffle feathers to achieve measurable equity, but we think she will be bold enough to do so. 

That disruption will not be disruption for its own sake but in the service of the greater good—for O’Neal’s own stated goal of uniting Durham and its fragmented social and political factions, so that the Bull City can enjoy a future in which everyone thrives.

It’s our opinion that Durham needs both Caballero and O’Neal in leadership positions on the council. That scenario is within Durham voters’ grasp: with the election of O’Neal as mayor, Caballero will keep her seat on the council until 2023. If Caballero is elected mayor, her seat will, in all likelihood, be filled by appointment by the sitting council members. 

O’Neal is the most qualified candidate in the mayoral race. We believe she will be a transformative force for the Bull City.

Honorable mentions go to Charlitta Burruss, Sabrina “Bree” Davis, and Rebecca Barnes. We hope to bring you more coverage of these candidates in the next several weeks. 

Read the full article here:

Credit: Indy Week

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