Durham Mayor Bill Bell, incumbent since 2001, will run for a sixth term this year.
Although the official filing period for mayoral candidates is not until July 1 to July 15, candidates such as Bell may campaign and raise funds earlier, said Mike Ashe, director of the Board of Elections.
Bell said he will kick off his campaign once he files the paperwork with the Board of Elections, which he plans to do in the upcoming months.
The mayor has a positive outlook for Durham as he seeks his sixth term. Bell, who has served in city government in various capacities since the 1970’s, hopes to oversee the continued revitalization of downtown Durham and the city’s neighborhoods.
“The city has been on a positive path,” Bell said. “Neighborhood revitalization is one area I would like to continue to work on.”
Bell was elected by substanial margins in recent elections. In 2009, he won 77 percent of the vote compared to his opponent Steven Williams’s 22 percent.
If Bell, a Democrat, wins re-election and serves a sixth term, he would join E.J. “Mutt” Evans as the longest-serving mayor in Durham history. Evans served as mayor of Durham between 1951 to 1963.
In upcoming years, Bell said he expects the economic recovery to increase city revenues and allow officials to continue city improvements.
“There are budget priorities, such as public safety and other core responsibilities of the city government,” he said. “With an increase in revenue, we could look at additional improvements in housing or parks and recreation facilities.”
He cited Duke as a “key partner” in downtown revitalization efforts, noting that Duke’s Division of Community Health contributed to the creation of the Walltown Neighborhood Clinic and the Holton Wellness Center, both primary care facilities.
Phail Wynn, Duke’s vice president for Durham and regional affairs, said he “welcomed” Bell’s candidacy in the upcoming election, describing him as a “very committed partner” in collaborating with the University.
“He’s been working with us on economic development issues and revitalization, which has had a major impact on the neighborhoods,” Wynn said.
Bell contributed to the creation of the Bull City Connector, the bus route established last August that links Durham and Duke, Wynn noted.
Wynn also praised Bell for his work to help Duke receive approval for the proposed construction of new facilities on campus.
“We have had some delays with the new construction approvals,” he said. “Mayor Bell has actively helped speed up the approval process.”
Wynn described his outlook for the relationship between Duke and Durham as “very optimistic” if Bell were elected for a sixth term.
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