Local Politics

Durham affordable housing bonds pass; mayor re-elected

Posted November 5, 2019 9:48 p.m. EST
Updated November 5, 2019 11:12 p.m. EST

— Durham Mayor Steve Schewel easily won election to a second term Tuesday, and voters also overwhelmingly approved the city issuing $95 million in bonds to help create more affordable housing.

With all precincts reporting, Schewel outdistanced Sylvester Williams, a minister making his fourth run for Durham mayor, by an 83 to 16 percent margin, according to unofficial results.

"I’m really thrilled," Schewel said. "It’s just an incredible privilege to be able to serve the people of Durham, and I’m very grateful to the voters to returning me to office. I’m looking forward to the next two years."

"He ran a very good campaign," Williams texted WRAL News. "It is truly admirable to have a campaign based on truths and not animosity or bitterness."

Affordable housing was one of Schewel's top priorities in the campaign, and the bond referendum was approved by a 76 to 24 percent margin.

The $95 million, which city officials called the largest such bond in state history, will be paired with $65 million in federal and local funding over the next five years to redevelop Durham housing projects, help find permanent housing for people who are homeless, fund down payments for low-income, first-time home buyers and assist people in danger of being evicted.

Schewel said he plans to work over the next two years to start making the promise of the bond a reality. But he said he also recognizes that policing and gun violence are critical issues in Durham, which last week saw a series of drive-by shootings that killed two people.

"I think the city of Durham is moving in a really good direction in a lot of ways, and I think we are working hard to take on the important challenges that we do have," he said. "I think people know that we have a lot of work to do to make sure that everybody is able to share in Durham’s newfound prosperity, and I’ll be working very hard to try to make that happen."

City Council members Jillian Johnson, Charlie Reece and Javiera Caballero all won re-election in a six-person race for three at-large council seats.

Chapel Hill mayor wins

Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger also easily won re-election, topping challenger Joshua Levenson 89 to 10 percent, according to unofficial results.

Two newcomers won seats on the Town Council, as Amy Ryan and Tai Huynh joined council members Jess Anderson and Michael Parker. Councilwoman Nancy Oates lost her seat.

Our commenting policy has changed. If you would like to comment, please share on social media using the icons below and comment there.