From school board to Congress, Durham County voters this year will choose who represents them at the county, state and federal levels. Incumbents are all being challenged. Candidate filing closed at noon Feb. 28. Here’s who’s running:
Durham School Board
Three school board incumbents — Chairman Mike Lee (District 1) and members Matt Sears (District 3) and Natalie Beyer (District 4) — have all filed for re-election.
School board member Bettina Umstead (District 2), who was appointed to the board in October 2016 to complete the term of former member Sendolo Diaminah after he stepped down in August 2016, is seeking election.
Antonio Jones, 37, a finance management analyst at Duke University, has filed for election to the District 4 seat held by Beyer.
Jones was featured in a story published by The Herald-Sun last July discussing the importance of the next superintendent selected to lead the Durham Public Schools.
Pebbles Lindsay-Lucas, a Durham Public Schools parent and past chairwoman of the Education Committee of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, is challenging Lee in District 1.
Others who have filed for election to the school board include Katie M. Jones, a retired DPS teacher, who is challenging Sears in District 3 and Angela Renee Starke, 42, a stay-at-home mom, who will also challenge Beyer for the District 4 school board seat.
Candidates who provided contact information were asked to fill out questionnaires, information from which is included in the following profiles. If such information is not included, those candidates either did not provide contact information or failed to return questionnaires.
Durham County Sheriff
Mike Andrews, who has been sheriff since 2011, is seeking re-election. He’s being challenged by Clarence Birkhead, a former police chief at Duke University and in Hillsborough. Both Andrews and Birkhead are Democrats.
▪ Mike Andrews (Incumbent)
Address: 6108 Wake Forest HWY, Durham, NC 27703
Occupation: Durham County Sheriff
Political experience: Sheriff since January 2012
Relevant experience: Co-Chair for the Officers In-Service Training Committee
Why did you decide to seek re-election? I am striving to protect vulnerable populations, meet our workload demands and recruit and retain a modern workforce. I am committed to improve the mental health needs inside the detention facility, education and prevention regarding opioid abuse and strengthening our community through active engagement.
▪ Clarence F. Birkhead
Address: 212 El Paso Ave.
Occupation: Driver license examiner, September 2016-present
Political experience: None.
Relevant experience: Criminal Justice Advisory Committee, 2014-present
Why did you decide to seek election?I decided to seek election for the sheriff’s office because I care about Durham and I want to create an environment where all residents feel safe and live free of fear. Progressive and proactive law enforcement is needed now in Durham and with my experiences I will bring that level of innovation to the office of sheriff.
Roger Echols, Durham County district attorney since 2014, will run for re-election. He is being challenged by Durham defense attorney Daniel Meier and Satana Deberry, executive director of the North Carolina Housing Coalition. All are Democrats.
▪ Roger Echols (Incumbent)
Address: 605 Wellwater Ave.
Occupation: Durham County District Attorney, Sept. 1, 2014-present
Political Experience: Durham County District Attorney, Sept. 1, 2014-present
Relevant experience: Durham County Criminal Justice Advisory Committee, January 2015-present; Chairperson January 2017-present
Why did you decide to seek re-election: Over the last three and a half years, my staff and I have brought stability to the Office of the District Attorney through hard work and by working with other agencies and organizations inside and outside of the criminal justice system to find solutions to crime and the effects of crime to the benefit Durham. I am running for re-election for District Attorney because I want to use my 20 years of prosecutorial experience in a way that keeps the public safe and protects the rights of victims through the fair and equal administration of justice.
▪ Satana Tia Deberry
Home address: 3111 Courtney Creek Blvd.
Occupation: Executive director, N.C. Housing Coalition, February 2013-present
Political experience: None
Relevant experience: Founding board member of Lillian’s List, 1997 - 99
Why did you decide to seek election: For too long the Durham District Attorney’s Office has been driven by a win-at-any-cost culture that prioritizes high conviction rates and harsh sentencing over more effective approaches that are proven to reduce crime — the priority has been to prosecute poverty in and to keep the jail full. As a community, we deserve better.
▪ Daniel Allen Meier
Address: 100 E. Parrish St., Ste. 300
Occupation: Attorney, Meier Law Group PLLC, 2004-present
Political experience: None
Why did you decide to seek election or re-election to this office? Having been a practicing criminal and civil attorney in Durham for 15 years, I feel that I have a working knowledge of our county’s legal process successes and shortcomings. I feel that being elected will assure that ALL Durham citizens and the cases on both sides of the legal process will be handled with equality, efficiency, impartiality that the people of Durham deserve.
Durham County Clerk of Superior Court
Archie Smith, who has been Clerk of Durham County Superior Court since 2002, is seeking re-election. He is running unopposed.
N.C. House District 29
▪ MaryAnn Black (incumbent)
Occupation: Associate Vice President for Community Relations - Duke Health System
▪ Charles Becker
N.C. House District 30
▪ Marcia H. Morey (incumbent)
Address: 2 Middlesborough Court, Durham
Occupation: Retired Chief district court judge
Political experience: 18 years as district court judge in Durham.
Other experience: Served on criminal justice advisory committee and Misdemeanor Diversion Project.
Why did you decide to seek election to this office? Durham deserves a passionate voice for equity, fairness and inclusion. I want to work for justice and the common good.
▪ B. Angelo Burch Sr.
Address: P.O. Box 15151 Durham, NC 27704
Occupation: Executive director, African American Dance Ensemble
Political experience: None
Other experience: Chapel Hill Training-Outreach Project board chair elected 2018, Homeless Services Advisory Council for two years, Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance executive secretary elected 2012, N.C. Museum of Art board 2017.
Why did you decide to seek election to this office? I am running for three very important reasons: to provide excellent education to each of our children; support economically, politically, and structurally our nonprofits; and finally, to deliver economically viable housing options for our most vulnerable. The people of Durham make this city great, and I am running to make sure their government works solely for them to that end.
▪ Matthew Wagoner
N.C. House District 31
▪ Zack Hawkins
Political experience: 1st Vice Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party
▪ Torian Webson
▪ Erik Raudsep
N.C. House District 54
▪ Robert T. Reives II (incumbent)
Address: 98 Roberts Chapel Road, Goldston, NC 27252
Occupation: Partner, law firm of Wilson, Reives & Silverman, 1999 – present. Previously a prosecutor in the Harnett County District Attorney’s Office, 1995 – 1999.
Political experience: N.C. House of Representatives District 54 (appointed January 2014, elected 2014, 2016).
Other experience: Lee County Education Foundation, board of directors.
Why did you decide to seek re-election to this office? I take seriously the opportunity to give back to my community and make the lives of its people better, whether that's through robust investment in our education system, promoting legislation that respects the rights and dignity of every citizen, or protecting our green spaces and natural resources like Jordan Lake from pollution and other threats. My voting record reflects these values and will continue to if I'm re-elected.
▪ Jay Stobbs
N.C. Senate District 20
▪ Floyd McKissick Jr. (incumbent)
▪ Tom Stark
▪ Jared Erickson
N.C. Senate District 22
▪ Mike Woodard (incumbent)
Address: 2009 Woodrow St., Durham, NC 27705
Occupation: Administrator, Duke University and Health System, 1996-present
Political experience: N.C. Senate, 2013-present; Durham City Council, 2005-2013
Other experience: Durham Arts Council President, 2015-present; Board of Trustees, 2002-present; along with service on more than a dozen other nonprofit boards and community groups.
Why did you decide to seek re-election to this office? I wish to continue serving the people of Durham and Person counties, along with Granville County, as we work to bring good jobs to our region; offer affordable and quality healthcare to all residents; increase investments in our children; develop sustainable infrastructure and innovation; and provide clean air, water, and energy. My experience, knowledge, and strong work ethic make me a first-rate advocate for the people of the 22nd District.
▪ Rickey (Rick) Padgett
▪ Ray Ubinger
U.S. House District 1
▪ G.K. Butterfield (incumbent)
Address: P.O. Box 2571, Wilson NC 27893
Occupation: Member of Congress.
Political experience: Member of U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina’s 1st District, 2004-present.
Other experience: North Carolina Supreme Court Justice, 2001-2002; State Superior Court Judge, 1989-2001 and 2002-04; Attorney, 1975-1988.
Why did you decide to seek re-election to this office? I run for re-election because there is more work to be done to expand opportunity for low and middle income American families. The Democratic Party must continue to confront Republican legislation that will cripple communities and prevent our citizens from reaching their God given potential; and I look forward to this great opportunity to campaign in the counties and communities that I care so deeply about.
▪ Roger W. Allison
Address: 1808 Pennypacker Lane, Durham, NC 27703
Occupation: CEO, Waypoint Growth Advisors
Political experience: Durham Republican Party
Other experience: Sponsored 501-C3 organization DCSail from 2011-2013 in Washington, D.C.
Why did you decide to seek election to this office? As a Christian, American patriot (9th descendent of Patrick Henry) and business builder, I pledge to bring relief to a Durham population without a federal voice by providing: prosperity to the black unemployed; comfort to the homeless children; affordable housing to those gentrified due to the downtown building boom; an educational revolution to escalate our student outcomes. With my pro-growth, pro-family and pro-America platform, all District 1 citizen rights and voices will be equally represented in D.C. as afforded by the Constitution or by God replacing the 14-year congressional representative’s culture of inactivity (no bills considered in 2017 – govtrack.us), anti-growth (5 percent out of 100 percent rating by Americans for Prosperity), anti-Semitism (“A” rating by NIACaction.org, stance against Jerusalem as capital and U.S. Embassy) and divisiveness (only reports Democratic news to his constituents).
U.S. House District 4
David Price (incumbent)
Address: P.O. Box 1986, Raleigh, NC 27602
Occupation: Member of Congress.
Political experience: Member, U.S. House of Representatives 1987-1995; 1997-present. Chairman, North Carolina Democratic Party 1983-1984. Staff director, Commission on the Presidential Nomination, Democratic National Committee 1981-1982.
Other experience: Professor, Duke University 1973-1986; 1995-1996.
Why did you decide to seek re-election to this office? I’m running for reelection to continue fighting for accessible health care, affordable housing and education, and other policies that improve the lives of American families and advance progressive values of fairness and equality. I am also running to serve as an effective check against an erratic and reckless President and a compliant Republican Congress.
▪ Richard L. Watkins
Address: Chapel Hill
Social media: facebook.com/RichardLWatkins; @RLWatkinsNC
Political experience: Science/technology policy and science advocacy at the local, state and federal level.
Other experience: Member, Sigma Xi, the scientific honor society board of directors; president, UNC-Chapel Hill Chapter of Sigma Xi; member, American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science and Human Rights Coalition Council.
Occupation: CEO and founder, The Science Policy Action Network Inc.; program coordinator, UNC-Chapel Hill’s Chancellor’s Science Scholars Program.
Why did you decide to seek election to this office? I am seeking election to make addressing climate change a top priority; to close the gap between the multi-billionaires and the rest of America; to bring universal healthcare to the American people; to bring an end to both the war on drugs and the privatized prison system, both of which profit on the captivity of people of color; to make education truly equitable for all; and to deliver the full menu of American freedoms, rights, and protections to my fellow citizens of the LGBTQIA community. I am the progressive candidate; I am your candidate.
▪ Michelle Laws
Address: P.O. Box 51021 Durham, NC 27717
Occupation: N.C. Central University adjunct professor of sociology; Associate minister and member of Pastor’s Transition Team with the Rev. Kenneth Hammond at Union Baptist Church; assistant director, Community Health Coalition. Previously N.C. NAACP executive director.
Political experience: First female president, Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP 2009-2010; former member of Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People PAC; third vice chair, appointed by then-Rep. Joe Hackney, for the N.C. Human Relations Commission, former campaign press secretary for U.S. Rep. Albert Wynn, former precinct chair in Durham County.
Other experience: Former executive director of the N.C. State Conference of the NAACP, 2014-16; Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; legislative liaison, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services.
Why did you decide to seek election to this office? “It’s important that we have people in Washington, D.C., who take bold stands against some of the regressive policies that are coming out of that administration and Congress. We need people there that can do some critical analysis of what policies are best for the districts that they represent.”
▪ Steve A. Von Loor
Address: Brier Crossings Loop, Durham
Website: steveavonloor.com; facebook.com/vonloor4uscongress
Occupation: Entrepreneur/founder and CEO, Von Loor Language Solutions; automotive manufacturing electrical technician, Altec Industries.
Political experience: Second national vice chairman, Republican National Hispanic Assembly of the United States.
Other experience: President, Latino Republican National Federation; Executive Board Member of Republican National Hispanic Assembly of the United States of America; appointed by then-Gov. Pat McCrory to the Governor’s Council on Hispanic/Latino Affairs.
Why did you decide to seek election to this office? I want to give the power back to the people, be the voice of those who were ignored and neglected for too long, serve all of us living in our district – it does not matter the party affiliation. We are all American, we are all North Carolinians, we should work together for the same mission – to help one to another and prosper, [so] I’m reaching out to all.
▪ Scerry Perry Whitlock
Durham Board of Education
Address: 2206 Hayfield Drive Durham, NC 27705
Political experience: Since 2010 I have been honored to serve the Durham community as the District 4 representative on the Durham Board of Education. I was elected by Durham voters in 2010 and again in 2014.
Other experience: I was a student in Durham Public Schools and my three children all attended DPS from kindergarten through high school. I have been a long-time parent, community and school volunteer. I served as PTA President in two DPS schools and served on a DPS school improvement team as an elected parent representative. I volunteer as a Board Member for Public Schools First NC, a non-partisan statewide education advocacy non-profit and as a court appointed guardian ad litem. I serve on the Board of Directors for Project Graduation, the DPS Arts Advisory Committee and Duke University’s Secondary Teacher Preparatory Program Advisory Committee .
Why did you decide to seek re-election to this office? During my service on the Board of Education the district has made improvements but we must accelerate this progress and bring families and community members together so that all Durham students can realize their dreams and goals; I am a thoughtful leader dedicated to excellence and equity for all students; and I visit schools, attend community events and fulfill the behind-the-scenes school board duties. As our Board, Dr. Pascal Mubenga, and community stakeholders develop a strategic plan for our district, my experience as a school board member, parent and volunteer is critical to focus our progress in Durham Public Schools.
Address: 607 Fanning Way, Durham, NC 27704
Occupation: Senior Program Manager
Political experience: Elected to the school board in 2014, Elected to vice chairman in 2015, served as chairman in 2016 and 2017 - current.
Other experience: Coaching with Hillandale Sports Association (HSA) for 7 years, treasurer of HSA board, member of the YMCA Advisory Board, board member of the Durham Partnership for Children, 10 years of mentoring and volunteering in the DPS system. I am a father of three current DPS children.
Why did you decide to seek re-election to this office?
I decided to run for another term because of my proven commitment to the improvement of the lives of our students, teachers, and staff; and from the moment I started my campaign in 2014, I have expressed my belief that traditional public schools are the foundation of our society in general, but especially in Durham. I believe that every person (with kids in the system or not) have a vested interest in the success of the public-school system; and I have visited 45 of the 53 schools, I have met with hundreds of teachers and administrators, I continue to talk directly with students about how to improve, and I advocate for the successes of DPS in interviews, conferences as well as person to person.
Occupation:Financial Management Analyst II at Duke University
Political experience: Former Chair, Durham City/County Planning Commission (2010-2014)
Other experience: Board of Directors Uplift Project Inc (2018-Current), Community Advisor, Larry Thomas Leadership Academy (2018-Current), Keeper of Finance, Beta Phi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc (2015-Current), former chairman, Board of Trustee, Kyles Temple AME Zion Church (2007-2014).
Why did you decide to seek election to this office?
As a former Durham Public Schools employee and advocate for public schools, I will bring a unique perspective to the board. As a school treasurer, I had the task of managing a school budget to include federal, state, local and grant funds. In this role, as I navigated the ever changing educational landscape of dueling priorities, I witnessed our students and educators receiving the short end of the stick which led to decreased student enrollment, high teacher turnover and persistent low test scores. For the past few years DPS has lost a significant amount of talented educators and operated without a clear strategic plan to address the many issues facing our schools.My campaign’s theme is “Students First.” Safe Schools, Equity, Accountability and Transparency (S.E.A.T.) will be the lenses through which my decisions will be made as a member of the school board. My vision is for DPS to intentionally invest in every child’s education in a holistic manner (academically, socially, emotionally, and mentally) from Pre-K so that all students become productive members of our community upon graduation while effectively addressing the needs of all our employees. Despite our graduation rates remaining flat at 81% since 2013-2014 and an unacceptably low 46.4% test proficiency rate, we have an obligation to ensure all students are college or workforce ready when they leave our schools. We can no longer afford to accept status quo and persistently low preforming schools while Durham County is rich in resources. As a member of the Board of Education I will advocate for unleashing the potential of our students and educators.
Address: 4706 Miller Drive Durham, North Carolina 27704
Occupation: Co-pastor & Executive Director of First Chronicles Day Care Center
Political experience: First African American Female to be President of Durham Congregations in Action, Community Activist with Hayti Community Ministers & Durham CAN, Former President of PTA at Fayetteville Street Elementary School, Former President of PTA at Hillside New Tech, Organizer for National Night Out Swann’s Mill Community, and the Vice President of Swann’s Mill Homeowners Association.
Other experience: Former Board Member of the YMCA, Former Youth Minister at Union Baptist Church in Durham, First woman to ever be ordained at the Mount Gilead Baptist Church in Durham, Former DSS Work First Advisory Board Member, Former Band Parent for Hillside High School, Former Chaplain for the Black Seminarians at Duke University Divinity School, 2000 Recipient of the Governor’s Award for Work First, Former Board Member of Jubilee Council of Churches, and is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Why did you decide to seek election to this office?
I am a lifelong resident of Durham, and I want our schools to be the best they possibly can be. Currently, statistics show that students spend over 10,000 hours in school from kindergarten to 12th grade, and we have too many graduating from high school reading on a third and fourth grade level. I believe that we can do better.
If given the opportunity to serve I will use my over 30 years of grassroots experience in the Durham Community to help bring the community back into our schools. I have worked with churches, and interfaith organizations in Durham for years helping families to reach self-sufficiency. If elected, I would like to work with the board members to establish a County Wide Parent Advocacy Support Group. This group will work to provide advocacy and trainings for our DPS families. Also, this group will focus on helping parents navigate through the education system.
I strongly support teachers, and the other staff members who work daily to ensure student success. I believe that we need strong teachers in order to produce successful children. I have been a teacher for over 10 years, and my husband is a teacher. Therefore, we understand the struggles teachers have in our schools. If elected, I will support teacher’s education, teacher incentives, professional development, great working conditions, teacher conferences, on local state, and nation levels with paid leave. Also, I will fight for teachers to receive adequate compensation for their commitment to our children. Finally, I will fight for safe schools. It is imperative that all children feel safe when they go to school. I will fight for the best safety measures for our school system. However, I do not support teachers being armed with guns.
Katie E. Jones
Address: Aman Court, Durham, N.C. 27713
Occupation: Teacher, Durham Public Schools (Retired)
Political experience: None
Other experience: Work-Study NCCU Student (1972-1975), Clerk-Typist/Section Secretary (1975-1984)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, At-Home-Mom (1984-1989)
Summerglen Court, Durham NC, Teacher Aide (Title at the time) (1989-1993), Parkwood Elementary School, Durham, NC , PTA Volunteer - Membership Chair (1991-1993) Parkwood Elementary School, Durham, NC ,
Associate Minister - Peace Missionary Baptist Church (2006-Present).
Why did you decide to seek election/reelection to this office?
I am a proud, retired Durham Public Schools (DPS) teacher; 25 years. We have lived in Durham for 46 years. Our children attended and graduated from DPS. My career began in 1989 as a Teacher Aide (title at that time) at Parkwood Elementary. Having my B.S. Degree, I returned to college to earn Teacher Certification with a scholarship from Governor James Hunt’s initiative for Teacher Aides to obtain certification. My student teaching was completed at Y.E. Smith and my first semester of teaching at Fayetteville Street (Spring 1994). Upon my request, I was allowed to transfer back to Parkwood in August 1994 because our children were attending Parkwood Elementary, Lowes Grove Middle, and Jordan High School. I transferred to Creekside in January 2005; Creekside was our designated attendance zone. Durham is a wonderful place to live, learn, and work. I will be instrumental in working with all stakeholders to structure a Durham Public Schools in which:
- Parents are competing to enroll their child(ren)
- All students are present, safe and excelling
- Teachers are excited about the opportunity to become members of our staff, enthusiastically teaching and proud to remain
- Administrators arrive every morning knowing that they have the staff, resources, and support to conquer the day
Address: Bahama, N.C.
Occupation: I am volunteer at Durham Public Schools and within the community. I am also in the process of continuing my own education at Durham Tech in the summer.
Political experience: None.
Other experience: I started my first job flipping burgers and working at the movie theaters while in high school. I then proceeded to a secretary position that lead to my career at the local phone company that was called GTE. My career at the phone company consisted of order entry, then billing and the last 13 years as a central office technician, maintaining and working on equipment that provided dial tone and high speed internet. My husband and I chose to end my career with the phone company, three years ago, so that we could provide the guidance to our children that neither of us received growing up. They are now our focus and the future. I have always been active in community outreach and assisting those in need. I have also been an entrepreneur, investing in myself to also provide for my family. I am currently a PTA member and volunteer regularly in my children’s school.
Why did you decide to seek election/reelection to this office? As a parent of two children, of elementary and middle school ages, a volunteer, a class parent and chaperone in Durham Public Schools, for several years, I have witnessed firsthand a systemic failure to educate our children throughout general studies. Elementary kids are currently being taught vocabulary words with zero focus on the spelling of those same words in fourth grade and up. I have also witnessed and/or been made aware of discrimination, indoctrination and failure of providing safety for all children in schools on multiple levels. Because I have been able to be as active as I have in the school system, working with multiple teachers, other administration and PTA on a regular basis, I have come to realize that there is little control over what decisions can be made on a school level and that the issues at hand, need to be addressed higher up. We need individuals that are willing to advocate for our children, our future, to assist them into becoming the smart independent, accountable and responsible achievers they can be.
Occupation: Chief Program Officer, Student U
Political Experience: Member, Durham Public Schools Board of Education
Other Experience: Advisory Board Member of Bull City Schools United
Why did you decide to seek election/reelection to this office? I know the transformative power public education has to change outcomes. That power must be realized for all students attending Durham Public Schools. I am seeking re-election to continue our push towards a school system where traditional markers of race, gender identity, language, socio-economic status (insert any other systemic injustice) no longer determine a child’s outcome.
Look up your voting district and polling places: dconc.gov/government/departments-a-e/board-of-elections.
This story will be updated as candidates respond to questionnaires.
Greg Childress: 919-419-6645