2021 Durham Voter Guide

Durham voters: make your voice heard in this year’s election for mayor and city council!

About the 2021 Durham Election

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2. Polls will be open Nov. 2 from 6:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. Find your Election Day polling place

Early voting runs Oct. 14 – Oct. 30. Find early voting sites

Learn about using same-day voter registration during early voting.

Questions about Durham’s election? Contact the Durham County Board of Elections at 919-560-0700.

Candidates for Durham Mayor (you may vote for one)

Javiera Caballero

Background: I’m a Durham City Council Member running for Durham Mayor. My experience has prepared me to step in as Mayor on day one with a full understanding of the functions of city government and the tools available to us to best address our challenges.

Favorite endorsements for this election: Durham Association of Educators, Durham’s People’s Alliance PAC

What are your top priorities if elected?
Affordable Housing, Community Safety, & Sustainability

How will you use your leadership and elected position to ensure community transparency and accountability for the Police Department?
In Durham we are beginning to create practical alternatives to our current public safety practices. The city has a new Community Safety Department. We need to be able to deploy the appropriate response when a resident calls 911.

What policies should the city pursue to improve the affordability of housing?
We fully funded the affordable housing bond overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2019. It is the largest affordable housing effort ever mounted in NC.

Website: JavieraForMayor.com

Elaine O’Neal

Background: I am a Durham native and have served as the first female Chief District Court and Superior Court judge in Durham, first alum to lead the NCCU Law School and chair of the Durham Racial Equity Task Force. I’ve been trained by the City to lead.

Favorite endorsements for this election: Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, Friends of Durham

What are your top priorities if elected?
My top priorities are gun violence prevention; affordable homes/housing; and bringing wealth-building opportunities to all of Durham. These will ensure not just the survival of our residents, but our ability to thrive together.

How will you use your leadership and elected position to ensure community transparency and accountability for the Police Department?
I am a relationship builder. I will use my leadership position to improve police-community relations and will ensure that the people most directly impacted by policing are involved in any decision-making and accountability.

What policies should the city pursue to improve the affordability of housing?
Development must be community-centered and equitable. The city should support tenant groups, tenants who want to buy housing; ensure those in ancestral homes and underserved neighborhoods are able to secure safe and affordable homes.

Website: ElaineONeal.com

Candidates for Durham City Council Ward I (you may vote for one)

DeDreana Freeman

Background: I have an MPA degree from NCCU, four years on council and experience in grassroots community-led organizing including work in my neighborhood, the Democratic Party, faith community and leadership roles at the city, county, state, and national level.

Favorite endorsements for this election: Collective PAC, Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, Vote Mama

What are your top priorities if elected? Income inequality, along with affordable housing, remains one of our biggest issues. Community health and safety, if done right, could save our children’s future. I envision an equitable Durham where everyone can safely live, work and play.

How will you use your leadership and elected position to ensure community transparency and accountability for the Police Department? I use my role to ensure community transparency and accountability with open communication and regular follow-ups with community residents. All of the city departments are accountable to the taxpayers and residents of our community.

What policies should the city pursue to improve the affordability of housing? The city can implement a local equity fund focused on reparative transformational initiatives for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and low wealth people.

Website: DeDreanaFreeman.com

Marion T. Johnson

Background: Issue expertise: paid leave, fair pay, budget & tax policy, race equity; Local experience: UAW Local 2320 chair, Durham People’s Alliance board chair, participatory budgeting steering committee chair (current)

Favorite endorsements for this election: Durham People’s Alliance, Durham Association of Educators, Run For Something

What are your top priorities if elected?
Housing justice, community safety and justice, and economic justice.

How will you use your leadership and elected position to ensure community transparency and accountability for the Police Department?
Parts of Durham feel abandoned by our system. Others feel criminalized. I’m equally concerned with what we do as a city as I am with making sure that residents feel brought along in this process.

What policies should the city pursue to improve the affordability of housing?
Increasing city funding for transit-accessible affordable housing; Fully funding the Eviction Diversion program; Expanding legal aid to families facing eviction and homelessness; Increasing rent support for residents in public housing

Website: MarionTJohnson.com

Candidates for Durham City Council Ward II (you may vote for one)

Mark-Anthony Middleton

Background: Prior to being elected to the Durham City Council I was part of the leadership apparatus of Durham’s largest, most diverse, grassroots organization Durham Congregations, Associations, and Neighborhoods (CAN).

Favorite endorsements for this election: Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, The People’s Alliance Political Action Committee, The Friends of Durham

What are your top priorities if elected?
Gun Violence for the sake of our children. Continuing my work on Durham’s participation in Guaranteed Income for a robust safety net. Prioritizing the city’s Shared Economic Prosperity Plan for equitable wealth creation.

How will you use your leadership and elected position to ensure community transparency and accountability for the Police Department?
I will advocate for a continued transformation of policing culture towards a community based model. Expanding response options to include mental health professionals is critical while still retaining the capability to respond to all other challenges.

What policies should the city pursue to improve the affordability of housing?
Municipal land should continue to be used for affordable housing initiatives. A renewed emphasis on incentivizing developers to use the city’s density bonus should also be embraced. Sustained lobbying of the state legislature for more local autonomy.

Sylvester Williams

Background: International Preaching The Gospel of Christ Jesus, Financial Analyst First Citizens Bank, Vice-Chair For Economic Development For Durham Committee On The Affairs Of Black People, Chair For Economic Development Durham Business And Professional Chain

Favorite endorsements for this election: none submitted by candidate

What are your top priorities if elected?
With landlords and tenants being affected by the moratorium eviction we need to ensure that resources are properly directed. Businesses on the verge of shutting down due to the pandemic need someone who understands the financial climate.

How will you use your leadership and elected position to ensure community transparency and accountability for the Police Department?
As a lover of the Lord Jesus the Only Begotten Son of the Living God I helped those affected by crime. I have had correspondence with the sheriff and former Chief of Police offices. Defund the police is not an option.

What policies should the city pursue to improve the affordability of housing?
Increases in residential property value can make a major impact on low-income or fixed-income households. Tax valuations should return to every eight years for those living in homes ten years. New employers should help subsidize affordable housing.

Candidates for Durham City Council Ward III (you may vote for one)

AJ Williams

Background: I’m a 34 year old, Black, trans person, and I grew up in Durham, NC, in a poor and working class family. The recent years of my life have been defined by political work including organizing with Durham Beyond Policing.

Favorite endorsements for this election: NC State AFL-CIO, Durham for All, Durham Association of Educators

What are your top priorities if elected?
Hiring qualified unarmed, skilled, responders, and administrative personnel to staff the Office of Community Safety & Wellness. Restructuring post-pandemic, small businesses into worker-owned models. Expanding protections for lower-income tenants.

How will you use your leadership and elected position to ensure community transparency and accountability for the Police Department?
Much of my community organizing work has been centered around reducing the footprint of DPD in our city, and demanding stronger community investments. As a City-Council member, I’ll continue to work towards long term alternatives to policing.

What policies should the city pursue to improve the affordability of housing?
Providing stable rent, protections for tenants and more notice before evictions on RAD units, increasing funding for the Long-time Homeowner/Tax Assistance grant program, and creating initiatives that help residents build towards homeownership.

Website: AJforDurham.com

Leonardo Williams

Background: Former Educator to Small Business owner, I have prepared our youth for higher education and the workforce to hiring them as adults. I understand that process because I have lived it personally and professionally.

Favorite endorsements for this election: Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, Friends of Durham

What are your top priorities if elected?
Public Safety: Changing the trajectory of young Black men in Durham. Economic Mobility: Helping create access to financial independence. Affordable Living: Evolving the conversation and solutions for Affordable Housing to be more holistic.

How will you use your leadership and elected position to ensure community transparency and accountability for the Police Department?
Commissions sanctioned by the city council to constituent-based advisory council to advise my decisions. Relationships must be formed beyond the annual review of the budget. Engaging police officers and residents together to share lived experiences.

What policies should the city pursue to improve the affordability of housing?
The city MUST better understand the players who are causing our housing market to be so volatile. Before we address affordability, we have to talk about accessibility. This is affecting a much broader base of residents even beyond the poverty line.

Website: LeoForDurham.com

Voting Tools

Questions about Durham’s election?

Contact the Durham County Board of Elections at 919-560-0700.