DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Durham residents will have a new mayor in a few months, and now we’re one step closer to knowing who it will be.

Eight candidates ran in the mayoral primary. Durham City Councilmember Leonardo Williams finished in first place with 51% of the vote. State Senator Mike Woodard finished in second with 29%. Both candidates move on to the general election in November.

Current Mayor Elaine O’Neal did not seek re-election.

Woodard said his top priority is maintaining and enhancing city services.

“That begins with investing in our employees, making sure that we have an equitable, fair pay plan that compensates them fairly and shows that we value them and that it hopefully helps us close the gap we have in some of our vacancies in our critical departments,” Woodard said.

Williams said his top priority is reestablishing decorum in City Hall, something he told CBS 17 has taken a toll on his mental health as a council member.

“Reestablish decorum in the halls of the people — in the people’s house — get back to understanding what effective governing looks like, get back to, you know, just empowering our staff and our city employees,” Williams said.

CBS 17 asked both candidates what they would do to stop gun violence.

Woodard said he would first form a task force to look for answers, as well as get law enforcement officers back on the street and expand the HEART program.

Williams said his focus on tackling gun violence is through strengthening community with people getting to know their neighbors, and making sure youth have activities and jobs.

Now the candidates are vying for general election votes.

“I have the most experience and the most knowledge to lead the city, and I believe I have the skill set to help Durham move forward,” Woodard said.

Williams hopes voters will continue to choose him.

“Well, why have people voted for me, because they believe, and they believe in the fact that it’s time for a new culture,” Williams said.

Current Durham City Council Member DeDreana Freeman finished in third place with 14% of the vote. 

Three at-large city council seats were also up for grabs. Twelve candidates ran. Below are the vote percentages for the six candidates moving forward to the general election.

Nate Baker- 18.27% 

Javiera Caballero- 18.09% (incumbent)

Carl Rist- 17.63%



Khalilah Karim- 12.21%

Shelia Ann Huggins- 9.71%

Monique Holsey-Hyman- 8.19% (incumbent)