The People's Alliance supports Matt Kopak. He is the candidate who can help us grow in line with our values of equity, health, and environmental sustainability. We are at a pivotal moment in our county planning process when we must consider how climate change affects us as a community, all of us. Matt will work to bring the Green Deal to Durham to make our community more resilient in the face of environmental injustice and climate change. Matt is uniquely able to lead on these issues even as he promises that he will not and knows that he can not do it alone. As a bridge-builder, he brings people together to listen and to understand their lives, their truths, and their joys in Durham. He has a unique perspective from his work in the Peace Corps, grassroots work in the U.S., public policy, local organizing, and his career at Burt’s Bees. He sees the world differently from most politicians and makes the effort to meet people different from himself to better understand the world from other people’s points of view. That is important in a public servant, and we look forward to seeing the difference he will make in Durham.
PA PAC endorses Ronnie Chatterji for State Treasurer. We singled out Ronnie Chatterji for endorsement because we found his vision of how the State Treasurer’s office can be used to better achieve an equitable, green and just North Carolina compelling. Ronnie understands that the primary functions of the Treasurer’s office are to manage the state health plan for employees and retirees in a way that assures high quality health care for all employees and retirees and to manage the state’s $95 billion pension fund to assure that it provides a secure retirement for all state retirees. But he also understands that as Treasurer, he can leverage the buying power of the health plan to lower health care costs and improve quality of care for everyone in North Carolina and that he can leverage the huge investment power of the treasurer’s office to generate very real environmental and social returns. In his words: “having $95 billion under management is akin to having 95 billion votes on the future of how the economy works and who benefits from economic growth. I want North Carolina to be a leader in that conversation and make sure that we are building a portfolio that will perform well over the long-term as issues like climate change, racial diversity and gender equity only become more important.” Ronnie backs up this vision with considerable expertise. He is an expert on healthcare and social impact investing. He served as a senior economist on President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors as well as on two state level commissions in Governor Cooper’s administration.
PA PAC endorses Natalie Murdock for North Carolina Senate, District 20, the seat recently vacated by Floyd McKissick. We are impressed by Murdock’s deep alignment with public school students, parents, and teachers, especially black and brown youth. Murdock attended North Carolina’s public schools from kindergarten to college. She understands that needs of students and teachers go beyond funding - as important as that is - that respect for the profession of education and addressing systemic discrimination are key to ending educational and wealth disparities. Murdock will fight for librarians, psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses, and other health professionals in every public school. Murdock’s experience as Durham’s Soil and Water District Supervisor have convinced her that a Green New Deal for North Carolina is essential to preserve and enhance our state’s quality of life. She will fight for higher environmental standards and to fully fund North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality. She is committed to ending environmental racism. We like her answer to our questions regarding local government. Murdock believes that state preemption of local governments’ right to determine taxation and zoning regulations negatively affects residents, that rent control can combat gentrification, and that local government should be granted the right to mandate affordable housing. Murdock has strong progressive ideals, and a wide base of support. We also like Murdock’s deep experience in the trenches working within government and outside it to advance a progressive agenda. In the North Carolina Senate, Natalie Murdock will uphold progressive ideals held by the People’s Alliance and she will fight for the interests of Durham residents, especially those most in need. She is ready to hit the ground running.
Why we strongly support Heidi Carter for County Commission
The People’s Alliance PAC strongly re-affirms our support for the re-election of County Commissioner Heidi Carter.
No one has fought harder for Durham’s schoolchildren over the past 16 years, and nothing has more impact on advancing our community’s racial equity goals than the success of our public schools. Carter is our community’s preeminent champion of universal pre-K. She led the County’s first-ever involvement in affordable housing by moving forward the initiative to build 300 affordable units downtown. She is the County Commission’s leading advocate for initiatives to end hunger, and the leading advocate for improving our bus system and spending the money necessary to do so. She authored the school board’s living wage policy, and she led the fight for higher wages for the County’s lowest-paid workers during this past year. She led the school board’s work to drastically reduce suspensions of children of color, disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline. She fought to reform the schools’ AIG program to open up gifted education to many more children of color. All of this work is the work of racial justice, and that is exactly why Carter is an advocate for these causes. When the protestors toppled the Confederate monument downtown, it was Carter who pushed the commissioners to say that the statue had no value so that the protesters would not be charged with a felony. This was an explicit act of anti-racist leadership, and that is the kind of leader we want on our County Commission.
Carter has long been concerned about the need for new schools and other capital spending in our rapidly growing county. Carter and other members of the County Commission have often clashed with County Manager Wendell Davis over the county’s support of Durham Public Schools. Carter has been impatient with Davis and the county staff about the need to develop a plan for funding new schools. This week, the County Manager wrote a letter to Carter which was distributed to the press in which he attributes Carter’s impatience and criticism to what he perceives as her racial bias against him. Davis is African American and Carter is white. Carter denies Davis’s allegations. Writing in support of Carter, School Board Chair Mike Lee has accused Davis of playing a dangerous game of politics – writing and releasing his letter in the midst of early voting in the elections for county commissioners. Lee suggests that Davis is motivated by a desire to elect more compliant commissioners who will take his side on school funding and other matters. Lee notes that Davis’s contract as manager is up for renewal in 2021, after the newly elected commissioners take office.
We agree with Mike Lee. We share Carter’s impatience with Davis over support for Durham’s public schools. Davis has shorted school funding in his budget proposals and the Board of Commissioners, including Carter, have insisted on more funding. People’s Alliance members have observed this tension between Davis and the board for some time and have routinely turned out at county budget hearings to argue for increased school funding.
For her part, while she denies Davis’s allegations, Carter acknowledges that she, like all of us, live in a country permeated with white privilege that fosters anti-black racial bias. Carter has held herself accountable to those she works with and represents. One thing we hear repeatedly in conversations with her colleagues is that Carter actively works to address inherent racial bias. We support Carter’s willingness to explore how living in a culture of white privilege affects her and her efforts to confront bias. Ultimately, we believe her conflict with the county manager over Durham Public Schools is founded in her abiding concern about the welfare of Durham school children, not racial bias. Durham needs strong advocates for schools. Durham deserves County Commissioners who will support policies and funding priorities that change the systems that perpetuate inequity.
Heidi Carter is such a County Commissioner, and we support her bid to serve a second term.