Editor's note: This article is part of a series of mayoral and city council candidate profiles. Check back for more throughout the week.
If her election campaign is successful, Sabrina “Bree” Davis will be the first female African-American mayor of Durham.
Davis, who is a social media strategist and research coordinator at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, has lived in Durham since 2009 and has since worked in public health, founded a social media start-up in 2011 and served on Obama’s re-election campaign.
Davis’ platform prioritizes affordable housing, crime prevention and combating climate change. She believes that her wide-ranging experiences make her the best mayoral candidate.
“I consider myself the more progressive candidate on the slate because I have had these unique experiences. They all tie into what is currently needed in the leadership of Durham,” Davis said.
“Someone with a public health background, someone who understands business and entrepreneurship, someone who understands social and corporate responsibility … I come back with a wealth of experience to help guide us into a better Durham,” Davis continued.
Davis cites the EngageDurham Comprehensive Plan as the framework for her platform. Much of her focus is on poverty reduction through interventions such as reducing transit barriers, developing community-based crime reduction strategies and advocating for resources to be allocated equitably.
Davis said that she feels so strongly about fighting poverty because she has had to overcome obstacles many Durhamites experience today: food and home insecurity, underemployment and gun violence.
“There are people who have been left behind, and less than a year plus ago, I was one of those folks. Now, a year later, I’m running for mayor. I believe there’s a higher calling for Durham and for all of us to jump in and correct the wrongs of history,” Davis said.
Davis said she is here to advocate for those who have been left behind—“and as someone who has overcome obstacles, I think more than anything I’m the right person to guide us through this time.”
In January 2013, Davis’ mother was murdered by a sheriff’s deputy in Broward County, Fla. Davis sees this loss as one of her inspirations to run for mayor.
“She is one of the main reasons that I see a necessity for what Durham is engaged in: community crime prevention and some of the accompanying methods of having social workers and trained therapists to help out in crisis situations,” Davis said.
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One of her initiatives to address gun violence is her work with Reverend Allen Jones at Change Paths Ministry to convert a corner store, which has been a hotspot of crime, into a co-op garden. She has also worked as a budget delegate with Durham County Government to allocate funds to the Harriet Tubman YWMCA, which had been on the brink of foreclosure.
Originally from South Florida, Davis moved to Durham in 2011 to find Black Wall Street. She worked out of the Durham County public health clinic to provide resources for Durham women struggling with addiction and poverty.
Additionally, she became part of a thriving entrepreneur community, where she founded a social media startup. After participating in the Bull City Startup Stampede, she was called to work on the Obama re-election campaign as a field organizer. Davis believes her varied experiences in politics, public health and entrepreneurship make her the best candidate.
Davis said that she hopes Duke students become involved in the political process and pay attention to the municipal elections. She wants to build a closer relationship with the Duke community and the mayor’s office, asserting that “this is the future of innovation, business, entrepreneurship, education and healthcare.”
“I know all of you are there not only to get an education but to support the community that you are a part of currently. So I hope that this election engages [students] and encourages them to go out and vote early and know the candidates to pick the person who will be the best for Durham,” Davis said.
Pilar Kelly is a Trinity sophomore and a staff reporter for The Chronicle.