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Tennyson, Bell Square Off In Durham Mayoral Race

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DURHAM, N.C. — In Durham, voters have two familiar names on the ballot in the mayor's race. Incumbent Nick Tennyson and challenger Bill Bell are longtime political figures in the Bull City.

Mayor Nick Tennyson has been sitting at the head of the City Council table since 1998. He is now looking to serve a third term.

"After spending four years learning where all the handles and switches are, it's time where I can believe I can have an impact," he says.

His challenger, Bill Bell, served more than two decades on the county commission and believes it is time for a change in city leadership.

"It's a good city, but I'm convinced as mayor and working with other people, I can make it an even better city," Bell says.

Both candidates are looking toward the future. They say development will be key and balancing the downtown needs with the needs of inner-city neighborhoods will be crucial, but the biggest issue seems to be an old issue.

Crime has been a major problem in Durham for years. A recent survey by the political group Durham First shows that most residents believe the city's No. 1 priority should be to reduce crime.

Tennyson says an increased partnership with state and federal law agencies has led to a 20 percent decrease in crime over the last four years. He says it is a work in progress.

"The message is it's up to the neighborhoods to really hold down crime," he says.

But, Bell says resources need to be used more effectively, and police presence should be increased in poorer neighborhoods quickly.

"When I say that, I mean 24 hours a day and seven days a week," he says.

The election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 6.


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