Three at-large seats on the Durham City Council are up for election. An October primary election will narrow the field to the top six choices.
Twelve candidates — Javiera Caballero, Monique Halsey-Hyman, Nate Baker, Shanetta Burris, J.J. Campbell, Waldo Fenner, Bonita Green, Shelia Huggins, Khalilah Karim, Carl Rist, Sherri Rosenthal and Renee Vaughn — have announced that they will run for the available seats. Each City Council term lasts for four years.
Here’s an early look at the candidates:
Caballero, an incumbent city council member, was the first Latina elected to Durham City Council, which she’s served on since 2018. She has previously worked as a school improvement team member and was the former committee co-chair of Latino Outreach and Club Boulevard Elementary School. She ran for mayor in 2021 but lost to Elaine O’Neal.
Halsey-Hyman, an incumbent city council member, was a social worker in New York City before moving to North Carolina and becoming a professor of social work at North Carolina Central University. She was appointed to her seat in May 2022, replacing former council member Charlie Reece. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation has since opened an ongoing investigation into Holsey-Hyman after accusations of extortion and campaign finance violations.
Baker is a Durham native who holds a master’s degree in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His platform includes advocacy for building a more walkable city, affordable housing and community-driven plans. He currently works as a professional urban planner.
Burris is a project manager for Lillian’s List, an organization supporting progressive women running for public office in North Carolina. Her priorities include accountability, housing affordability, infrastructure, crime and the environment. She holds a bachelor’s degree and a master of public administration from North Carolina Central University.
Campbell is a retired geophysicist and former dolphin trainer who is currently a stay-at-home dad. His top priority is implementing ranked choice voting “or something similar.”
Fenner, who moved to Durham in 1994, is a current doctoral candidate in behavioral health at Grand Canyon University. His candidate statement claims he is retired with professional experience in counseling, education, community health and substance abuse.
Fenner advocates for equity, transparency, community living and accountability. He hopes to focus on offering affordable housing and fighting COVID-19 and gun violence. Fenner unsuccessfully ran for Durham City Council in 2021.
Green is currently the president of the Merrick-Moore Community Development Corporation, a non-profit organization that serves the Merrick-Moore neighborhood in East Durham. She holds a community partners development certificate from North Carolina Central University.
Huggins, an attorney, has a master’s degree in public administration from North Carolina State University and a law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has previously worked as an environmental chemist for the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources and is currently a member of the Democratic National Committee.
Huggins' top three priorities include job accessibility, equitable development and ways to limit poverty. Huggins unsuccessfully ran for Durham City Council in 2017.
Karim is a regional field director at the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters, an environmental advocacy organization. She has also worked with the Service Employees International Union, where she “fought shoulder-to-shoulder with union members for accessible childcare and living wages.” Her campaign is focused on housing accessibility, environmental sustainability and systemic solutions to inequity.
Rist has a nearly 30-year professional career in economic justice and tax fairness at a Washington, D.C. based think tank. He has worked with the nonprofit Prosperity Now and as a volunteer officer with local organizations, including the People’s Alliance and the Durham Living Wage Project.
Rist advocates for an expanded living wage, investment in education and training, investment in wealth building, greater affordable housing, more environmental projects and further community safety systems. Rist has the support of former Durham Mayor Steve Schewel.
Rosenthal is a retired Deputy City Attorney for Durham and previously served as a Legal Aid attorney, specializing in housing. In the 1990s, Sherri created Eno Commons, the most energy-efficient neighborhood in North Carolina. Rosenthal plans to fight gun violence, offer more affordable housing, ensure tax dollars are well-spent and protect clean water.
Vaughn is currently a financial practice manager in the clinical research unit at the Duke School of Medicine. She is also the president of the North Carolina chapter of the Society of Research Administrators International, and serves as a faith representative on Durham’s Homeless Services Advisory Committee. Her top three priorities include affordable housing, equity and inclusion, and criminal justice.
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Jothi Gupta is a Trinity sophomore and a university news editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.