All registered voters in the Durham city limits can vote for all council seats; the candidates, though, must reside in the ward they want to represent.
We emphatically endorsed Eddie Davis for Ward 2 City Council in the October primary, and we do so again, over his opponent and second-place finisher, Omar Beasley.
The post is being vacated by Howard Clement, who is retiring after 30 years.
Even without the endorsement of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People (a puzzling choice, considering Davis' bona fides), the former schoolteacher and public servant received nearly 6,000 votes—59 percent of the ballots cast. Beasley, a bailbondsman, got 2,174 votes and 21.5 percent of ballots cast.
You can read our original endorsement of Davis, but in essence, he has deep understanding of the issues. He advocates for the rights of women, minorities, gays and lesbians and farmworkers. He is focused on deterring crime in Durham and protecting water quality. He also received the endorsement of the progressive Durham People's Alliance.
Because there are only two candidates, no primary was held in Ward 3. The general election features a contest between incumbent Don Moffitt, who was appointed to the seat after Mike Woodard was elected to the state senate, and Pam Karriker. A veteran of several boards and commissions, she was appointed to the Durham county commissioners in 2001 after Becky Heron retired.
We enthusiastically endorse Don Moffitt, a former member of the Durham Planning Commission, which he served on for six years—three of them as chairman. While he supports fiscally prudent annexation policies, Moffitt voted with the majority of his councilors in opposing the imprudent annexation of 751 South.
His focus is on job training, affordable housing, especially near services and transit lines, and improved transportation. On other quality of life issues, Moffitt suggests panhandlers who violate the city's ordinance to go before the county's Community Life Court, where they can be paired with service providers. That seems to be a compassionate way to address the problem.
We are encouraged by Karriker's focus on safe, affordable housing for Durham residents. However, on the subject of housing, she says the Proactive Rental Inspection Program, which helps keep slumlords in line, has made it "more difficult for all property owners to see profit on rentals in lower income areas [and] has adversely affected the supply of affordable housing in Durham."
We find these two positions incongruous, because safe housing should take precedence over a property owner's profits. If the owner can't provide safe housing, he or she should not be in the rental business.
We are also dismayed by Karriker's stance on the rights of gays and lesbians. While she supports equal housing and employment rights, she opposes legalizing same-sex marriage, based on her "personal faith and understanding of the Scriptures," she writes in her questionnaire.
That is not representative of Durham's constituency; the county was one of eight in the state to vote against Amendment One.
Durham Mayor: Bill Bell
We endorsed Bill Bell in the primary (read our original endorsement), and we endorse him again in the general election. He received 8,977 votes, a commanding lead over second-place finisher Sylvester Williams, a pastor and perennial candidate, who got 738.