Local Politics

Durham mayoral candidates prepare for primary election

Posted September 30, 2015
Updated October 1, 2015

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— On Tuesday, voters will have the opportunity to select one of three candidates who are looking to take the job of incumbent Bill Bell. Bell, the longest serving mayor in Durham’s history, has held the position for the last 14 years.

The three candidates – Tammy Lightfoot, James Lyons and John Henry Everett – will vie for Bell’s position in the primary election.

Lightfoot, who moved to Durham two years ago for a management position at Walmart, is focused on cutting crime in the city. She also said she plans to increase the police department's K-9 unit.

If elected, Lightfoot said she would focus on revitalizing neighborhoods and expand the use of renewable energy.

“I think it’s kind of irresponsible of the city to build new building and not incorporate solar panels,” Lightfoot said.

James Lyons, a Durham native, who along with working for Time Warner Cable, runs a nonprofit dedicated to youth development, has never held an elected office.

“I wanted to come to the table not being a part of the establishment that we had in the city,” he said.

If elected, Lyons said he'd focus on community and youth.

“We need to allocate more funding to our parks and rec department,” Lyons said. “We've got to have more positive constructive programs for our young people to be a part in.”

Lyons said he would also like to find ways to provide additional affordable housing.

“There are a lot of people in our community who are still lost, still can't afford decent housing, still have to send their kids to less than stellar schools,” he said.

Bell said, if re-elected, his focus also will be on affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization. Work he says he's already started with his poverty initiative.

“I've said revitalizing our neighborhoods that have been depressed for long periods of time to me is just as important as what we have done to downtown Durham,” Bell said.

Bell says if he is re-elected, it would be his last term.

“There continue to be challenges,” he said. “If you wait until all the challenges are over, you'll never get out.”

Everett couldn't be reached for comment.

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