Freeman, Cole-McFadden win Ward 1 Durham City Council primary

Mayor Pro Tem Cora Cole-McFadden (left) DeDreana Freeman (right)
Mayor Pro Tem Cora Cole-McFadden (left) DeDreana Freeman (right)

Planning Commission member DeDreana Freeman and incumbent City Council member Cora Cole-McFadden far outpaced the competitors in Tuesday’s primary for the Ward 1 council seat.

Freeman finished first with 11,764 votes, or nearly 48.1 percent of all ballots cast. Cole-McFadden was second with 10,473 votes, or 42.8 percent. They will now compete in the Nov. 7 general election.

Freeman watched the returns from 106 Main while her three young children ate chicken nuggets nearby. She plans to “hit the streets a lot more” to win in November, she said, adding “I think we started late.”

About 30 to 40 supporters, including some members of the People’s Alliance, which endorsed her, appeared upbeat and energetic as they watched the returns with her.

“Tired? No, I feel good,” Freeman said, also expressing respect for Cole-McFadden, who she said has achieved a lot of firsts. But she wants to make sure Durham’s different communities “have a little more equity,” she said.

“It’s heart-breaking to have to go up against another black woman,” she said, “but it’s more important that the city gets what it needs.”

Cole-McFadden, who is mayor pro tem and retired from the City of Durham, has held the Ward 1 seat for 16 years. She expected “just about anything to happen,” she said with results coming in, but “we will win.”

Cole-McFadden was endorsed by the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People and The Friends of Durham.

“It’s a blessing to have the opportunity to serve,” she said. “As [Durham minister and writer] Carl Kenney says, ‘I am old school.’ You notice you don’t see a whole lot (from me) on Facebook. ... So if the citizens have a gripe, they will just have to call me on the phone or email me.”

“Of course, we are going to continue to champion for affordable housing,” Cole-McFadden told her supporters.

“Affordable housing is relative,” she said. “It depends on how much money you want to spend on your housing. It depends on how much you want to sacrifice. For me, if I stay out of the mall, I can probably spend $2,000 a month right downtown, but that is not what I choose to do. So we cannot allow for folks to define for us what affordable housing means, and so I am just honored to do what I do for the citizens.”

Trailing the winners Tuesday were Brian Callaway, with 1,431 votes, or 5.8 percent of the total, and John Tarantino with 794 votes, or 3.2 percent.

With Mayor Bill Bell leaving at the end of his term, Cole-McFadden will be the longest serving council member if she wins the general election on Nov. 7.

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