Elaine O’Neal eager to confront gun violence as Durham’s new mayor

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Durham officially elected a new mayor Tuesday. Elaine O’Neal won with 85 percent of the votes.

O’Neal said she’s excited to take over as mayor. She’s excited to get to work to make Durham safer as gun violence continues to plague the city.

“This is a dream that I never had, but it’s now my reality,” O’Neal said. She is a former judge.

Deadly shootings in Durham are up by almost 30 percent. More than 200 people have been shot so far in 2021.

“You have to engage in the streets and go and talk to young people about who they are and what they need,” O’Neal said.

Addressing gun violence will be a top priority for O’Neal. As a former judge, she said she knows the individuals who are behind much of the violence. She plans to work with them to stop it.

In the past, the Durham City Council has been divided on whether more police officers are needed to address the problem. O’Neal said she will work with city councilors and cater to the needs of each community in the city.

“We have to get down to the level of neighborhood what are communities are asking us,” she said. “What are they telling us that we need? Can we address and build those relationships from there? I think we need to take the leads from our communities in solving these issues.”

Durham also elected a new city councilor for Ward 3. Leonardo Williams said gun violence is also a top priority for him.

O’Neal is Durham’s first Black female mayor. She will take office on Dec. 6.

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