Stage set for conclusion of city election
Early voting trends suggest the electorate that will decide this year’s mayoral and City Council ward races won’t be much larger than the one that decided the primary.
As of the close of business on Friday, the county Board of Elections was reporting that 1,955 people have cast early ballots in the city races. That’s 301 more than had voted at the same stage of last month’s primary.
One-stop early voting concludes today, with the elections board taking ballots from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at its offices at 706 W. Corporation St. near the old Durham Athletic Park.
The conclusion of the one-stop period will set the stage for citywide, precinct-based voting Tuesday.
Voters will choose between mayoral contenders Bill Bell and Sylvester Williams; Ward 2 candidates Omar Beasley and Eddie Davis; and Ward 3 candidates Pam Karriker and Don Moffitt.
Bell and Moffitt are incumbents, Bell having served as mayor since 2001 and Moffitt as a mid-term appointee to the Ward 3 seat since January.
Beasley and Davis are vying for the chance to replace longtime Ward 2 incumbent Howard Clement, who’s stepping down in December to conclude a 30-year run in office.
Bell and Davis won their primaries last month handily. The mayor took 87 percent of the vote, Davis 59 percent.
The Bell-Williams race is a rematch of the 2011 mayoral election, which saw Bell re-elected with nearly 82 percent of the vote. Bell, as before, contends the city has prospered under his leadership. Williams says it “can do much better” and vows constituents “will not be talked-down to” were he in office.
All of Durham’s big-three political groups – the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, the Friends of Durham and the People’s Alliance – have endorsed Bell.
Beasley, a bail bondsman, and Davis, a retired teacher, are both making their second tries for elective office. Beasley ran for a County Commissioners seat last year as an unaffiliated petition candidate. Davis in 2008 entered the statewide Democratic Party primary for superintendent of public instruction. Both lost.
Davis has support this time from the People Alliance and both of the candidates defeated in last month’s primary, Franklin Hanes and Del Mattioli. He also on Friday picked up support from the primary’s third-place finisher for mayor, Michael Valentine.
Valentine said he’s switching his vote from Beasley to Davis because Davis “has a youthful spirit and is a good listener who I feel is willing to learn the perspective and needs of all Durhamites.”
Karriker and Moffitt likewise are making their second tries for elective office. Karriker ran for the Ward 3 seat in 2005, while Moffitt in 2008 sought the Democratic nomination for a County Commissioners seat. Neither made it out of the primaries held those years.
Moffitt, like Davis, has support this year from the People’s Alliance. Beasley and Karriker have backing from the Durham Committee and the Friends.
The N.C. Sierra Club on Friday announced that it’s endorsed Davis and Moffitt. Local activist Pat Carstensen said the group is “confident that they will continue to work to protect Durham’s environment.”
Beasley and Karriker have received major support from the N.C. Association of Realtors. The group’s spent $47,600 on a series of direct-mail appeals for the pair that was continuing as of mid-week.
Republican Party activists have also signaled support for the pair, with Durham County GOP leader Ted Hicks tweeting to followers on Friday an appeal on their behalf from party member Teiji Kimball.
Kimball said he’d been disappointed to find out that only 72 Republicans had voted as of Thursday, versus 1,329 Democrats.
“We can stem the tide of the radical left by choosing more moderate to conservative candidates like” Beasley and Karriker in the city election, he said. “They stand for jobs, economic development, affordable housing, governmental financial accountability and a safer Durham.”