Opinion

Creating the kind of vision that Durham needs – Farad Ali

Farad Ali
Farad Ali ctoth@heraldsun.com

In endorsing my candidacy to succeed him, Durham Mayor Bill Bell acknowledged his friendship with and his respect for my opponent, Steve Schewel, who serves with Mayor Bell on Durham’s city council.

But the mayor also went to lengths to point out what I hope Durham voters recognize: my 30-year record of leadership and innovation, plus my ability to build consensus and foster effective solutions, distinguish me on the Nov. 7 ballot.

What will I bring to Durham that earned me Mayor Bell’s endorsement? Why should you vote Farad Ali for mayor? Let me outline three things that separate me from Councilman Schewel.

Proven leadership: In three decades in this city, I’ve amassed a broad track record of leadership in business, in government and in the nonprofit community. The results? I’ve had a hand in moving Durham forward by helping generate more than $1 billion in economic opportunity within the community and statewide.

As importantly, my experience uniquely positions me as a policy-maker and influencer. That’s self-evident from my service. Many of the region’s most noteworthy organizations have sought my guidance, among them the RDU Airport Authority, Duke University Health System, Duke Regional Hospital, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, the Center for Self-Help and the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce. My peers on four of those boards elected me as their chairman, even more evidence of my ability to lead and collaborate.

Combined with my experience as a Durham City Council member, I believe that as mayor I’ll have the better opportunity to create the kind of vision the people of Durham will want to see realized.

“Farad Ali,” said Mayor Bell in his endorsement, “has demonstrated his capacity to serve the people, collaborate and get the job done.”

Devotion and commitment: Over the years, my record distinguishes me because of my commitment to Durham’s progress in every field: in business, as an entrepreneur, executive and corporate banker; in civic work, as a board member of the Greater Triangle YMCA and the Triangle Community Foundation and numerous other non-profits; and in diversity, as a leader with the Airport Minority Advisory Council, the National Minority Supplier Development Council and the Latino Community Credit Union, and as CEO of The Institute of Minority Economic Development. I was also selected to serve the U.S. by finding ways to increase utilization of minority businesses for the White House’s African American Leadership in Action Conference.

All that positions me as the better change agent for the city’s future, something Mayor Bell stated in his endorsement.

“The next mayor must assure that as we grow the diversity that has been one of our greatest assets continues to be our greatest strengths,” Mayor Bell said. “I know that Farad is prepared and has demonstrated leadership and expertise to lead the way.”

Planning for opportunity: When it comes to jobs and economic opportunity and affordable housing for Durham’s citizens, I have outlined strategies as mayor to move the community in a progressive way with:

▪ a continued commitment to social justice, equality and equity

▪ employment training programs in construction, healthcare, technology

▪ an economic progress plan that encompasses both human and community elements

▪ a comprehensive affordable housing strategy that addresses homelessness, transitional housing, public housing, workforce housing, home ownership

My “One Durham” campaign is evidence of what we can accomplish if we work together – but first, a clear vision of our goals is required. Only with vision and by diligently pursuing opportunities for Durham and her people will the community become the best it can be.

It’s what I’ve lived and believed – something Mayor Bell has witnessed up close as my mentor.

“(Ali’s) campaign mantra of ‘One Durham,’” the mayor said, “…it is how he lives his life – fair and inclusive – (it’s) the only way he knows.”

I was humbled to be described by Mayor Bell as “a catalyst for bringing greater economic benefits to Durham” and the “the ‘go-to’ man for the largest of industry and smallest of non-profits and small businesses.”

Mayor Bell said I’ve “never wavered in my commitment and effort to put Durham first.”

As mayor, I’ll continue to do the same for you.

Former Durham City Councilman Farad Ali is a candidate for mayor.

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