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.
We enthusiastically and unequivocally endorse Alexandra Valladares for School Board At-Large.
Alexandra is exactly the kind of qualified, empathetic, experienced candidate that Durham needs. A Durham Public Schools graduate and now a DPS parent, she is an innovator in STEM education, with publications in environmental justice and health science education. She has spearheaded engagement opportunities with DPS students and families through STEM teaching and mentorship, bilingual storytelling, and offering culturally relevant pedagogical content She served as a PTA Latinx outreach coordinator building a coalition of historically underrepresented community members and organizers. Alexandra convened a Superintendent-Parent Forum Series for Latinx families, served on the Superintendent’s strategic planning committee, and collaborated with public school educators, community leaders and parents to conduct the needs assessment for the first Community School in DPS. She offered mental health resources and support to DPS parents by hosting meetings with medical providers and researchers speaking on ADHD and learning disabilities, as well as supporting work related to ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences). She has hosted talking circles in schools and community centers for families, and for members of the People's Alliance.
On Tuesday evening, January 14, members of the People’s Alliance PAC in Durham met to debate and decide which candidates running in 2020 would get the group’s endorsement. Approximately six hundred people attended the meeting, the largest in the PAC’s forty-five year history. During the check-in process before the meeting, candidates from all over North Carolina running for nearly every office on the ballot, from Lieutenant Governor to local school board, were present to work the crowd.
PA PAC is a political action committee that shares a common vision and membership with the progressive People’s Alliance in Durham. In recent years membership in the People’s Alliance has swelled and the PAC’s influence in elections has grown. Nearly every currently-serving official elected by Durham voters was endorsed by PA PAC. In the weeks before this year’s endorsement meeting, PAC committees solicited responses to questionnaires from candidates running in eleven state and local contests and interviewed more than forty candidates.
Endorsement decisions are made by the PAC membership at a meeting in advance of elections every year. At the meeting, PAC committees who have studied the candidates make recommendations, but ultimately the endorsement is decided by a vote of the members after rigorous debate. During Tuesday’s meeting, more than fifty people rose to speak just during the debate over county commissioner endorsements. The entire meeting ran late into the night, but members stayed until the last endorsement decision was made. Candidates value the PA PAC endorsement and work hard within transparent PAC rules to make sure their supporters in the organization get to the meeting. PAC members attend to persuade and be persuaded.
When Governor Roy Cooper learned he had won PA PAC’s endorsement for 2020, he wrote, "I’m honored to receive this endorsement from People’s Alliance PAC. Whether it means fighting for real pay increases for teachers and other educators, pushing for Medicaid expansion, building a true line of defense against climate change, or protecting our communities, I'm committed to fighting for the issues that matter to North Carolinians." PA PAC shares Governor Cooper’s commitment.
The PAC’s support of its candidates only begins with the endorsement. PA PAC campaigns for its candidates with organizing, events, mailings, social media, canvassing and poll work. This work is managed by a committee of PAC coordinators elected by the membership. Members give money to support the PAC campaign and volunteer for poll work and the many other tasks that are necessary to win elections.
On Tuesday, PA PAC members voted to endorse...