Opinion

Vote Nov. 7 for a Durham we can all believe in – John Rooks Jr.

John Rooks Jr.
John Rooks Jr.

“Those closest to the problem are closest to the solution, but furthest from resources and power.”

– Glenn E. Martin, founder and president of JustLeadershipUSA

Wherever I go, across this city, I am asked very plainly, “Why are you running for the Durham City Council?”

My response is not complicated: I am running to ensure that Durham is a city that represents all residents, especially those that have been overlooked and underserved.

As we prepare to elect new leaders to the city council on Nov. 7, our city is at a critical point. We must decide whether we will continue business as usual or truly engage all residents in the decision-making process on the future of our great city.

Glenn E. Martin, founder and president of JustLeadershipUSA, often talks about how historically any meaningful movement in this country has included the voices and leadership of people who are most oppressed by the system that you are trying to reform.

For too long we have talked about creating affordable housing, investing in economically disenfranchised communities, reducing crime and protecting the human rights of LGBTQ individuals without actually providing a meaningful seat at the table for those community members closest to these challenges.

When I decided to run for the Ward 2 seat on the Durham City Council, it was not for the prestige of the office. I decided to run because I believe in Durham.

I believe in a Durham that represents and includes the mothers and children in McDougald Terrace and Cornwallis that I have the honor of working with to ensure that their community and other low-income housing areas have the same amenities as any other community in Durham. A community with access to public transportation, clean parks, trails, fresh food options, adequate lighting and other infrastructure improvements.

I believe in a Durham where low-income residents aren’t displaced from their neighborhoods due to gentrification and affordable housing is a reality and not just on our wish list.

I believe in a Durham that invests in job training and educational opportunities for residents of all skill levels that prepares them for good-paying jobs in emerging industries.

I believe in a Durham that leads the way in our support and protections for immigrant brothers and sisters. Durham is a community that welcomes all and where no human being should be labeled illegal.

I believe in a Durham that continues to recognize and demand equality for the LGBTQ community. Durham is a unique city that I love because of our valued LGBTQ and immigrant communities, and we are a better city because of the contributions of these communities.

This election is bigger than any individual. We have an opportunity to continue advancing the great progress that we have made while addressing the areas that still have room for improvement.

On Tuesday, Nov. 7, I am asking that you not simply vote for me, John Rooks Jr. for Durham City Council Ward 2. But I am asking you to vote for a Durham that we can believe in – a Durham for all!

John Rooks Jr. is a candidate for the Ward 2 seat on the Durham City Council.

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