People's Alliance PAC 2015 Endorsements

Help Elect Bell, Johnson, Reece & Schewel for a Progressive City Council.

People's Alliance PAC strongly endorses Mayor Bill Bell, Jillian Johnson, Charlie Reece, & Steve Schewel, a Progressive EXHIBITION2.jpgteam for all of Durham.  In 2015, we have an extraordinary opportunity to elect four leaders to our City Council with the right combination of experience and values to make critical decisions about the rapid growth that is reshaping Durham. This progressive team will help us build a community where all live well.

Mayor Bill Bell and City Council member Steve Schewel are effective leaders who invest in the future of Durham through community policing, housing, jobs, and transportation for all. They will continue to represent us well.

Jillian Johnson and Charlie Reece are running for two open seats on City Council. Johnson and Reese have demonstrated collaborative leadership with People's Alliance and other progressive groups working for social and economic justice in Durham. They also bring years of relevant work experience in Durham, Johnson as Director of a nonprofit business and Reese as General Counsel of a family business.

Mayor Bill Bell

PA-PAC supports the re-election of William V. “Bill” Bell as the Mayor of Durham for his eighth two-year term. People's Alliance members were among those who convinced Bell to run for Mayor 14 years ago. He has been a business-friendly leader and a consistent voice for downtown revitalization, public transit, parks, sidewalks, wise land use, and safety.  Bell's top issues will be reducing poverty and revitalizing distressed neighborhoods.

Bell has been at the forefront of equal rights since the merger of Durham City and County schools. He supports a local ordinance to end discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender people in housing, employment, public accommodation, and access to government benefits and services.

Jillian Johnson, Charlie Reece, & Steve Schewel for City Council (3 seats)

Jillian Johnson

Jillian Johnson currently is the Director of Operations for the Southern Vision Alliance, a youth leadership and civic engagement program. Johnson previously worked for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.  She volunteers on the adult board of iNSIDE oUT, an organization that supports LGBTQ youth in the Triangle.  Her work with those for whom prosperity has been illusive is compelling.

Johnson's top issue is confronting the ongoing process of gentrification and displacement of low-income families. She will work to provide more affordable housing by bringing together city and nonprofit housing resources, asking more from developers that seek funding or zoning, involving members of the community in the process, and ensuring that race equity is addressed in development plans.

In addition, Johnson is committed to high-quality open space and public facilities. She supports the 15-501 road diet and would be an advocate for bike and pedestrian travel. She will urge continued close oversight of the police department, given ongoing concerns about eroded police-community relations.

Johnson is just the kind of candidate Durham needs now: someone with thoughtful ideas on affordable housing, a deep commitment to racial equity, and community accountability from our police and police department leadership. She would bring a strong progressive voice to the council, a voice from the social justice community, who engages people who rarely have a voice in city politics.  

Charlie Reece

Charlie Reece is an attorney and businessman.  Reece has served as a prosecutor and as a member of the Attorney General’s staff. The family business that he and his wife, Laura, own was one of the founding businesses in the Durham Living Wage Project and has offered domestic partner benefits to gay and lesbian employees for many years. That business, Rho, employs 400 people.

Reece has proven himself to be an informed and persuasive community advocate. He served on the leadership board of People's Alliance and represented PA on the FADE Coalition (Fostering Alternatives to Drug Enforcement). Recently, he played an important role articulating the FADE Coalition’s position on police-community issues to the City Council. All but one of FADE's recommendations were adopted and are being implemented by the City.

On PA’s key issues, Reece supports a penny of the property tax rate for parks, affordable housing near planned transit, the 15-501 road diet, and a Living Wage. On Council, he will expect developers to contribute directly to develop affordable housing.

Reece's most important issue is managing the recent surge in development in in a way that maintains what is so special about Durham. For him, this means ensuring that Durham continues to be affordable for working families and that the boom in downtown development results in prosperity that is broadly shared by all. 

Steve Schewel

PA-PAC supported Steve Schewel for City Council four years ago; he has justified the PAC’s trust in him. Schewel has been a consistent progressive voice on City Council. His leadership is need more than ever with the retirement of another strong Council member, Diane Catotti. In addition to serving on City Council, Schewel is a professor and youth soccer coach. Previously, he was Chair of the School Board and founded the Indy.

In his first term on City Council, Schewel led on a range of issues: an affordable housing strategy that works, a mobility strategy for the next 50 years, $15 million worth of sidewalks, improving our trails, bike lanes, parks, ball fields and tree canopy, attention to the needs of our Hispanic residents, basic City services and infrastructure, and economic initiatives in East Durham. He is clear that Durham needs effective, community-led accountability of the police force to end racial profiling and bias-based policing.

Schewell is most concerned about how to respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by Durham’s rapid growth. He will continue to work to ensure that development enhances our small-city quality of life and promotes prosperity for all.

People’s Alliance Political Action Committee Candidate Endorsements Process

On August 25, nearly 200 members of People’s Alliance PAC met for a democratic vote on 2015 endorsements for Durham Mayor and three City Council at-large seats. At the meeting, every member who wishes to be heard is given the opportunity to speak. Prior to the endorsement meeting, we interview candidates and examined their background and record of public service. Candidate questionnaires, resumes, and our endorsements are available to the public.  Due to the integrity and thoroughness of our process, the endorsement of the People’s Alliance PAC is sought after by candidates and is influential among voters.


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