DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – With Durham’s mayoral and city council races heating up, many candidates came out to the People’s Alliance candidate mixer Monday night to address voters about key issues facing the city.

The lineup for candidates vying for mayor includes current Durham City Council members, a state senator, local activists and other community members.

A common theme among the speeches was the goal for Durham’s next mayor to create a closer sense of community.

“I’m tired of everyone going through this suffrage and that we must make a change for our city for the best,” Jontae Dunston said.

Councilmember and mayoral candidate Leonardo Williams touched on how the city should be proactive in preparing for more residents, amid rapid growth.

“Make sure that this place is so beautiful and so pleasant and accepting and embracing for us who are right here. And for those we’ve got to build capacity for the ones that are coming,” Williams said.

State senator and mayoral candidate Mike Woodard, as well as candidate Nick Pettiford, spoke about affordable housing needs.

“Provide affordable housing for our low-wealth citizens, workforce, housing for the families who live in the income gap, for middle-class families so that they can stay in Durham too,” Woodard said.

“Helping community, helping out with the kids, helping out with affordable housing, helping out with making a difference,” Pettiford said.

Marshall Williams Jr., also running for mayor, addressed crime and his passion for reaching kids and teens at risk.

“I know the real kids in this community. They are part of the gun violence and affected by it,” Williams Jr. said. “And I think they need a strong leader to go in there and challenge them to be accountable as well and also work with police to be accountable as well.”

Councilwoman and mayoral candidate DeDreana Freeman said a sustainable and resilient Durham should be a top priority.

“Realizing that our earth has to come first. So no, no amount of affordable housing will matter if it’s on fire,” Freeman said.



Durham’s mayoral election is on November 7. A primary is scheduled for October 10.

CBS 17 reached out to candidates that were not at the mixer. Pastor Sylvester Williams said in a statement that tax and property value increases are forcing people to relocate. Williams also touched on a number of other issues:

“About $200 million was invested in the light rail and we have nothing to show for it while the first responders are being underpaid when compared to surrounding areas and shootings and killings continue to increase. About $100 million sat in reserves for the city while MacDougall Terrace residents were suffering from living in units that were in need of service.”