Local & State Government

City Council Approves Pay Raises for Durham Police, Firefighters

Durham City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday to approve pay raises for police officers and firefighters of every rank, in an effort to counter staff shortages in Durham’s police and fire departments. The raises, which take effect immediately, are intended to bring Durham’s public safety salaries up to competitive levels, after years of falling behind. Police officers and firefighters will begin receiving increased pay as soon as their next paycheck, on January 28. “Durham will be wher

Nonpartisan school board candidates downplay partisan ties

At first glance, a group of candidates in the upcoming Durham Public Schools Board of Education election appears to be pretty typical. On its joint website, the “Better Board, Better Schools” slate mentions a passion for education and the goal of preparing students properly for college or the workforce. Yet when Durham County resident Bill Busa took a closer look, he noticed some unusual things. Busa, director of the Democratic campaign data analytics firm EQV Analytics, first saw that the gro

One Political Mailer Sheds Light On Durham Election Dynamics

The flyer that arrived in Durham voters’ mailboxes had an urgent message: “Don’t defund the police!” it said in capital red letters. “Law enforcement is under assault.” The mailer, distributed in September by the Friends of Durham political action committee, endorses Elaine O’Neal for mayor, incumbents DeDreana Freeman and Mark-Anthony Middleton for City Council Wards I and II, and Leonardo Williams for Ward III. Friends of Durham supports the slate of candidates for one specific reason, the m

Mayoral Candidate Javiera Caballero Envisions a Durham for All

Until a few months ago, Durham City Council member Javiera Caballero had no plans to run for mayor. She was in the middle of serving her four-year term on the council when Mayor Steve Schewel unexpectedly announced he would not be running for reelection. After years of public service, Caballero decided to take her leadership to the next level. “It created an opportunity and an open seat that I felt compelled to at least try for,” Caballero said of Schewel’s retirement. She’s motivated to contin

Analysis: Forest ran too far to the right for pandemic voters

North Carolina voters largely supported Republican candidates in the 2020 elections, from President Trump to Senator Thom Tillis. But Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, the Republican challenger in the gubernatorial race, was a notable exception. He lost to Gov. Roy Cooper 51.5% to 47%. In a purple state made up of a relatively moderate electorate, Forest proved to be too conservative and strident for many voters. And he was facing an uphill battle: Forest lacked the power of the incumbency, and Cooper had b

Cooper and Forest clash over COVID-19 in Governor's race

When Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted out his plan to move North Carolina into Phase 2.5, his post garnered dozens of replies for and against the guarded decision. “I want to say some unkind words,” one Twitter user wrote, “but I will hold it for the polls.” The tweet’s poster won’t be the only Carolinian carrying coronavirus opinions into the voting booth. Cooper’s announcement comes during a governor’s race that has been dominated by COVID-19. The governor and his Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Dan F

North Carolina likely to shatter voter turnout record

Four years ago, the number of absentee and in-person early voting ballots cast in North Carolina crushed records. But those records didn’t stand a chance against this year’s stunning numbers. Absentee ballots, which include mail-in and in-person early voting, have revealed the intense interest in the 2020 election. A surge of mail-in voting could be expected during a global pandemic, but the numbers suggest COVID-19 is not the sole reason behind the state’s record-shattering count. The tally i

In first (and only) debate, gubernatorial candidates clash on schools, economy and masks

On the eve of North Carolina’s first day of early voting, Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican challenger Lt. Gov. Dan Forest debated issues from health care to taxes to hurricanes. But much of the debate centered on their most contentious disagreement: how to handle the coronavirus. Although Cooper is leading in the polls, he attacked Forest from the outset. The majority of polls show Cooper leading by at least 10 points, and a WRAL survey released Wednesday had him up by 13 points. Face to face fo

How Cooper And Forest Differ On Police And Protests

Editor’s note: This story was produced through a partnership between the INDY and The 9th Street Journal, which is published by journalism students at Duke University’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy. North Carolina’s governor and lieutenant governor don’t seem to agree on anything. As candidates for governor, Roy Cooper, the Democratic incumbent, and Dan Forest, the Republican challenger, have sparred most bitterly over the response to the coronavirus. And they don’t see eye to e

Dan Forest's Skepticism About Masks (And Science)

Editor’s note: This story was produced through a partnership between the INDY and The 9th Street Journal, which is published by journalism students at Duke University’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy. Last month, Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted an attack ad dramatically depicting a quote from his opponent, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest: “I would lift the mask mandate for the state.” Forest would set North Carolina back in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Cooper wrote in his caption. Fift

Charlie Reece Bids Adieu to Durham City Council

After nearly seven years of public service, Charlie Reece will join his last Durham City Council meeting in less than a week. The city clerk will present Reece’s letter of resignation to the rest of the council at its next meeting on Monday, March 7. Reece, who was first elected as an at-large council member in 2015, is resigning in order to move to Paris with his family. He announced his resignation on Februry 21. Reece’s wife Laura Helms Reece is the CEO of their Durham-based clinical resear