Durham County

Cash flows into mayoral coffers. Towns look to offer help to DACA recipients

Durham mayoral and city council candidates participate in a “Durham People’s Candidate Forum” at Hayti Heritage Center on Wednesday. Pictured from left are moderator Laila Nur and council candidates Cora Cole-McFadden, Brian Callaway, DeDreana Freeman, John Rooks Jr., DeAnna Hall, LeVon Barnes, Mark-Anthony Middleton, Dolly Reaves, Vernetta Alston, Shelia Huggins and Don Moffitt.
Durham mayoral and city council candidates participate in a “Durham People’s Candidate Forum” at Hayti Heritage Center on Wednesday. Pictured from left are moderator Laila Nur and council candidates Cora Cole-McFadden, Brian Callaway, DeDreana Freeman, John Rooks Jr., DeAnna Hall, LeVon Barnes, Mark-Anthony Middleton, Dolly Reaves, Vernetta Alston, Shelia Huggins and Don Moffitt. dvaughan@heraldsun.com

With the Durham city primary less than a month away, the latest campaign finance reports showed about $300,000 has been raised in the mayoral candidate front runners’ campaigns. The 35-day report for candidates Farad Ali, Pierce Freelon and Steve Schewel showed that they have raised $107,000, $89,000 and $74,000, respectively. The numbers were totaled through Aug. 29.

“It’s not a small amount. It’s not $500,000 either,” said Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan organization that promotes “meaningful” pro-democracy reform. “For an open-seat race, it’s an understandable amount in a local political race,” said Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy NC.

Longtime Mayor Bill Bell is retiring.

The source of contributions helps tells the story of a candidate, Hall said. “I think it’s not a something that necessarily should rate against a person, it just gives you more background about them.”

Schewel, Freelon and Ali – along with mayor candidates Shea Ramirez and Sylvester Williams – were part of the “Durham People’s Candidate Forum” on Sept. 13 at Hayti Heritage Center. The forum, which also included council candidates, was hosted by the National Domestic Workers Alliance-We Dream in Black NC chapter, Durham For All, Raise Up for 15, NC Black Women’s Roundtable and UE150, the N.C. Public Service Workers Union. They answered questions about labor issues, the Durham economy and policing among other topics.

Early voting for the nonpartisan primary starts Sept. 21. There are some 188,000 registered voters in the city of Durham.

Ideals vs. practicalities

Chapel Hill and Carrboro leaders voiced their support while designating money and space last week to local agencies helping immigrant youths affected by recent federal action aimed at ending the DACA program.

Council member Nancy Oates, before voting with her board, also put in two cents for the taxpayers who would foot the bill.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, during the Obama administration in 2012 to provide immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally before the age of 16 with protection from deportation and employment eligibility. President Donald Trump rescinded that program on Sept. 5 with full implementation of that rescission suspended for six months for Congress to find a way to move forward.

Existing recipients can renew their benefits until Oct. 5 at a cost of $495.

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen and the Chapel Hill Town Council asked their respective town managers to find money to help with renewal and legal fees for local DACA recipients and to identify other ways to help El Centro Hispano work with them. The managers also will look for town space where local agencies can provide DACA recipients with information and where attorneys can meet with them.

“This is certainly an issue that is close to my heart and as an individual, I have done things to help other individuals,” Oates said. “When I’m up here, I’m not acting as an individual, I’m acting as an elected official charged with spending other peoples’ money, so when you come back with this information, I do want to find out a little bit more about the finances.”

Chapel Hill Town Manager Roger Stancil will report back to the council by its first business meeting in November. Carrboro Town Manager David Andrews will report back by Sept. 19.

Chapel Hill forum

A candidates forum for the Chapel Hill mayoral and Town Council races will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9, in the Town Hall Council Chamber, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Chapel Hill.

The free, public forum is sponsored by the Orange Unit of the League of Women Voters of Orange, Durham and Chatham Counties, the Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools PTA Council, and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP.

For other election forums in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham at nando.com/4wz.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563, @dawnbvaughan

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

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