Shea Ramirez holds many positions—she's a tax preparer, an owner of a model and talent agency, a founder of a nonprofit and a mother of six teenage daughters. Now, she has her eye on Durham's mayoral seat.

For Ramirez, creating a unified Durham and increasing opportunities for the city's residents are crucial components of making Durham a better city. She plans to use her personal entrepreneurial background to help her relate to all of Durham's citizens.

'A united Durham'

From the t-shirts donned by smiling teenagers to the web address itself—thepeoplesmayor.net—Ramirez angles herself as a mayoral candidate for the people. Her campaign slogan is “Our Youth, Our Community, Our Future."

“I believe in a united Durham, with shared resources and opportunities," Ramirez wrote in an email, explaining her slogan. "‘Our children need programming to better cultivate their talents and gifts.”

Ramirez is also particularly concerned with local crime. She believes that Durham's high crime rates stem from a lack of opportunities for the city's young people.  She stressed her desire to provide more financial resources to help youth and other residents secure stable jobs and pursue their passions. 

“Our residents are suffering economically and being displaced,” she wrote. “We need to invest in [our youth] and not just the landscape... When every community thrives, we prosper as a city.”

She proposed developing programs and partnerships with local universities, community colleges and companies, which could offer education and possible job placements.

Ramirez, who has also served as a substitute teacher for Durham Public Schools, explained that she is experienced in motivating and working with youth. Her talent agency works with youngsters and schools to raise self-esteem and educate them on their self-worth. Last year, she held a 'Teen Summit'—an event meant to open dialogue between youth and community.

“Youth and people in general get lost when they don’t fully understand their capabilities and purpose,” she wrote.

Her background 

Originally from Greensboro, Ramirez graduated from North Carolina Central University in 1995 and has stayed in Durham since. She labels herself as an entrepreneur and a mother who is deeply involved in the community. 

According to her website, she began her own business—Sa'Shea Shoes—in 1999 by selling shoes out of her car, with her daughters in tow. She eventually earned enough to open a storefront and went on to open SH'Bella Model and Talent Agency in November 2012. She has also created a nonprofit—A Beautiful You—which collects and donates clothes to people in need. 

“I have experienced real-life situations that make me relatable to all citizens of Durham," she wrote. "Running for this position is far greater than just experience and a nice resume but about the individual’s character.”

Ramirez has no prior political experience, but she called herself a “doer,” emphasizing her interest in working hands-on in the community and opening communication between the government and citizens. If elected, she plans to host regular community functions and town forums to make city officials and police more accessible to Durham residents.

She also noted that she would “push to have a police oversight board made up of residents and city officials that would have hiring and firing abilities.”

Duke and Durham

As for Duke’s relationship with the city, Ramirez noted that the University is synonymous with Durham. But she added that the relationship between the two should still be improved.

“Duke has some great programs in which they provide services to Durham children,” she wrote. “It would also be great if Duke campus areas open their doors to host some community functions.”

Ramirez sees the opportunity for Duke to have a positive effect on the city going forward.

“If Duke is involved in the progression of Durham, it would…help Durham to move forward in a united fashion where all communities thrive," she wrote.