When the Durham City Council took its first vote on who should be on its new Racial Equity Task Force, no African American men were on it.
Mark-Anthony Middleton, the only African American man on the council, missed the initial vote and saw a problem with that. The rest of council agreed to talk more about it, and this week they came up with a solution. Keep the first list of nominees but expand it so the now 17-person task force has at least four African American men.
There are now six African American women, four African American men, four white women, two white men and two Latina women on the slate of 17 nominees. The nominees were chosen by a vote at Thursday’s work session, when all council members were present. They’ll make it official at the council’s regular meeting Monday, Oct. 1. The appointments will be on the consent agenda, which is a way for the council to approve several items at once unless one is removed from the consent agenda for discussion first.
Here is the breakdown of the Racial Equity Task Force:
Elaine O’Neal, the district court judge and interim dean of the N.C. Central University law school, will be chair. She was nominated by Mayor Steve Schewel.
Tia M. Hall, African American woman
Vanessa J. Hines, African American woman
Cory H. Hogans, African American man
Jessica C. Luginbuhl, white woman
Cameron L. Smith, African American woman
David H. Dixon, African American man
Kaaren M. Haldeman, white woman
Ana S. Nunez, Latina
James Tabron, African American man
Emily S. Coward, white woman
Jovonia Lewis, African American woman
Howard N. Machtinger, white man
Daniel R. McKinney, white man
Katie J. Mgongolwa, white woman
Jamel E. Moss, African American man
Cecilia S. Polanco, Latina
O’Neal, the task force chair, lives in Ward 2. The Durham City Council’s ward system designates that a council member must live in the ward they represent, even though voters from across the city vote on all council seats regardless of ward.
Council member DeDreana Freeman represents Ward 1, Middleton represents Ward 2 and Vernetta Alston represents Ward 3. Charlie Reece, Javiera Caballero and Mayor Pro Tem Jillian Johnson are at-large members. The Racial Equity Task Force is a new advisory board that Johnson started as a priority when she was elected mayor pro tem by her fellow council members in December.
Durham’s 150th anniversary
Also this week, council members took a preliminary vote on the Sesquicentennial Honors Commission. That commission will work on the upcoming 150th anniversary in 2019 of Durham becoming a city. Schewel said he’d like there to be 150 different events, large and small.
The breakdown, by name, race and gender:
Joseph Blocher, white man
Ernest A. Dollar, white man
Michelle L. Gonzales-Green, multi-racial woman
John E. Schelp, white man
Aya Shabu, African American woman
Frances D. Starn, white woman
Andre D. Vann, African American man
City Council members said they need to be “intentional” about diverse board appointments beyond the Racial Equity Task Force and the Human Relations Commission.
Alston said that it’s not only about race and gender. She’d like to see people with a diverse range of educational backgrounds serving on boards — not just those with advanced college degrees.
“I Voted” sticker, Durham style
There are many serious reasons to vote. Getting that “I Voted” sticker is a fun reason. The Durham County Board of Elections held a contest to design this year’s “I Voted” sticker.
The winning design was created by Joshua Klein, and incorporates the City of Durham flag colors and stars. The design won with 457 votes, which is 11 percent of the 4,135 votes cast for the sticker.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6. Early voting starts Oct. 17. Visit dconc.gov/government/departments-a-e/board-of-elections for early voting locations and other Durham County Board of Elections information.