Durham Ninja Warrior: Heart-stopping action in City Council race | News

Durham Ninja Warrior: Heart-stopping action in City Council race


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While Durham's Next Top Model is selecting the next mayor, a new reality TV show Durham Ninja Warrior brings heart-racing competition to the 2015 City Council elections. Over the next two months, 10 candidates must navigate an obstacle course of exhausting meet-and-greets, (a lack of) money and (a lack of) name recognition, while avoiding political gaffes that could be captured on video by opposition research.

Here are the 10 candidates, their very brief résumés and our suggested individualized obstacles. Three at-large seats are open; the top six vote-getters in the primary will compete in the general election.

  • Charles Reece, former treasurer of state Democratic Party and ex-secretary of Durham People’s Alliance, a left-leaning citizens group. He is an attorney for Rho, a contract organization in medical research. Obstacle: Fighting off an angry troop of research monkeys.

  • Ricky Hart, a member of the city’s Human Relations Commission, a key organization in recommending improvements to Durham Police arrest protocol. Obstacle: In this town? Driving While Black.

  • Jillian Johnson, community organizer, board member of iNSIDE oUT, a youth-led LGBTQ organization, director of operations for Southern Vision Alliance, a nonprofit that works with youth on leadership development and civic engagement, board game designer, Moral Monday protester Obstacle: Removing the Zip-Tie handcuffs placed on her by State Capitol Police.

  • Juan Alva, a retired doctor recovering from brain surgery, he founded the inner-city Vickers Clinic, which he sold last year. Obstacle: We think recovering from brain surgery is enough.

  • Michael Shiflett, board member of Liberty Arts Foundry, winner of a 2012 Human Relations Award for his work in community housing, PAC2 chairman and co-founder of Durham-Orange Friends of Transit. Obstacle: Walking barefoot over hot railroad tracks.

  • Philip Azar, lawyer, formerly with Habitat for Humanity and Clean Energy Durham, president of the Inter-Neighborhood Council. Obstacle: Deleting his inbox of nasty neighborhood listserv messages

  • Steve Schewel, incumbent City Councilman, former school board member, public policy teacher, soccer coach, former owner of the INDY. Obstacle: Playing midfielder while keeping his bow tie clean.

  • John Tarantino, perennial candidate, gadfly, Republican, troubadour Obstacle: Convincing the INDY to endorse him.

  • Robert Stephens, local activist, director of alumni for Teach for America, he has not filed a candidate’s statement of organization. Obstacle: Organization.

  • Sandra Davis, no statement of organization or campaign presence Obstacle: Showing up.
The Durham primary is Oct. 11; the general election is Nov. 8.The INDY will publish its first endorsements issue on Sept. 23, the day before early voting begins.


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