Last week, over 33,000 Durham County voters cast their votes and selected Clarence Birkhead for Sheriff and Satana Deberry for District Attorney. We also chose to send experienced leaders to Congress and the school board. David Price will head to the general election in November, and Mike Lee, Natalie Beyer, Bettina Umstead and Matt Sears will return to the school board.
People’s Alliance PAC would like to thank all the candidates who stood for office in this election. Our democracy functions best when we have the opportunity to vigorously debate the issues that matter most.
We came together to support progressive voices for a better Durham. In all, over 80 pollworkers and volunteers worked on this election. They helped staff 23 precincts on election day and early voting where more than half of all votes were cast. They talked with thousands of voters and told them why they supported PA PAC-endorsed candidates. Other PA members delivered food, helped set up the March endorsement meeting and participated in interview committees. We also sent our endorsement mailer to over 40,000 voters and passed out over 15,000 sample ballots.
Election day turnout made the critical difference. In the race for district attorney, election day voters helped Satana Deberry make up an early voting shortfall and go on to win by eight percent and prevail in over three out of every four precincts. Countywide, Clarence Birkhead won in nine out of every ten precincts, winning his race two to one. Mike Lee won the race for district one school board by 15 percent, Matt Sears won the race for district three school board three to one, and Natalie Beyer won district four with over 56 percent of the vote besting two other candidates by 15 percent. Bettina Umstead faced no opponents in her race for district two school board.
PA PAC continues to work for you. You elected PAC coordinators to make sure the interests of PA members were represented in this election. You elected us to keep you informed and engaged. You asked us to be stewards of our collective resources and to support the campaigns that reflected our values. In the coming weeks, we’ll take stock of what worked and how we can improve. We hope that you will take a moment to share your thoughts.
Mike Lee is thoughtful and patient. He builds consensus: As the leader of a progressive school board, Mike understands that the team will not always agree and he is comfortable with debate. Whether he is working with his school board colleagues, teachers and staff, or kids and parents, Mike really listens. As the father of three DPS students, he is empathic with the issues and needs facing parents and students. He can synthesize information to lead inclusive decision-making forward. In the end, Mike’s eye is always on student welfare and student progress.
Coming from a business background, Mike has a strong understanding of finance, operations, and human resources. He is well versed in technology. His finance skills are important to helping manage the budget and when advocating to the County Commissioners for funding.
Mike has a strong race equity lens: Mike supports and advocates for ongoing professional development for teachers and staff. He recognizes that everyone has unique strengths and will continue to advocate for students for the next four years.
Mike Lee is a steady and effective advocate for Durham Public Schools. As school board chair, he successfully convinced the state that Durham solutions are best for Durham education challenges. He knows our schools, he knows our children, and he knows our community. I am voting to send Mike Lee back to the school board.
I'm supporting Matt Sears for re-election. As a public school parent I've watched up close as Matt and his family has fully embraced public schools. Matt's oldest attends Lakewood Elementary. This neighborhood school was their FIRST and only choice. Matt and Ellen have provided leadership to other parents at Lakewood and helped to grow leadership.
As a school board member Matt brings an innovation lens to his work. In a previous professional position Matt was able to travel the state and the nation to learn about best practice and ideas that lead to real success. As a member of the board he can assist the Superintendent as he learns to lead in Durham. Matt is a former teacher so he fully understands the challenges of the job and is there for teachers but also recognizes that we need not only to support but to transform our schools in Durham.
I proudly serve alongside Matt on the Lakewood PTA and I endorse his continued leadership in Durham.
Durham PTA Parent
Natalie Beyer supports and empowers educators. During her career as a DPS Board Member she has visited my school at the request of staff to hear our concerns and help resolve issues. For example, she met with us when we were concerned about the amount of time the district was using for mandatory trainings on early release days, rather than protecting the time for teachers to utilize at their school for collaborations within their learning teams. She listened to our concerns, helped us figure out the best way to a solution, and the following year the majority of our early release days were protected. On another occasion, she met with distressed staff about our school-based administration. Again, she listened, helped us determine possible solutions, and worked with us through the next steps. Natalie understands that Durham needs to attract, recruit and prepare highly-qualified teachers. As a result, she partners with teacher preparatory programs, such as Duke’s Program in Education. Natalie is a public education advocate and makes sure to attend public events and raise awareness about the issues that public schools are facing in North Carolina. As an educator in Durham, I am casting my vote, without hesitation, for Natalie!
Mika Hunter Twietmeyer
“I have spent thirty-seven years litigating cases as an advocate in the criminal justice system, representing death row inmates and advocating for criminal justice reform, racial justice and the abolition of the death penalty. I am writing to ask you to join me in supporting Satana Deberry for District Attorney in Durham, County.”
“I believe that our criminal justice system is broken; the United States is responsible for nearly 25% of the world’s prisoners and a grossly disproportionate share of our country's inmates are people of color. In Durham, our jail and courtrooms are filled with Black and Brown people. Our prosecutors continue to employ many of the same punitive tactics that have failed for decades including harsh and punitive sentencing, high bonds, cash bail, and maximum charges to induce plea bargains.”
“Satana has had experience inside the criminal justice system as a criminal defense attorney and has had wide exposure to the problems defendants and victims face daily. Equally important, she has dedicated her career to addressing the issues that plague the lives of poor and oppressed people in our county: lack of adequate housing, poverty, abuse and neglect, addictions and mental illness.”
“If elected, I believe Satana will argue for reduced bonds, seek to eliminate cash bail, and reduce or dismiss charges where severe punishment such as incarceration is unwarranted. She will not declare cases death-eligible or automatically seek the highest penalty for a particular crime. She will institute practices within the office of district attorney that are data-driven and reduce racial, class, and gender bias. She will be more transparent in her practices by collecting data about whom we are jailing and prosecuting and the results of those prosecutions.”
Join Ken Rose and PA PAC in voting for Satana Deberry for Durham DA!
Recently, we were asked if it matters that Sheriff candidate Clarence Birkhead disagrees with the Hillsborough town manager about what happened with accreditation of the Hillsborough Police Department back in 2009. Our answer is that it does matter. It is an issue in this Durham Sheriff’s election. One of two candidates will become our future sheriff. Birkhead is the challenger. Mike Andrews is the incumbent. Both are good men. Neither is perfect. Who among us is?
But what really matters to PA PAC in this contest is that people do not die in Durham’s jail. During Andrews’ tenure, six people have died in the jail. What matters to us is that our law enforcement officers do not hold people whom our courts have released so that ICE agents can pick them up. Sheriff Andrews cooperates with ICE on detainer requests which have no force in law. It matters whether our neighbors’ families are split apart. It matters that Durham families live in fear of our county’s largest law enforcement agency. In this election, these are the things that really matter. We wish Clarence Birkhead had not had difficulty with accreditation when he was chief of police in Hillsborough ten years ago. But what matters in this Durham Sheriff’s election is a lot more important than that.
Clarence Birkhead offers us a chance to begin again with dignity and safety for the people held in our jail. He will not honor ICE detainer requests. He is in touch with the whole Durham community. His candidacy offers the hope that there can be a new and better relationship between Durham’s people and their law enforcement officials. If Clarence Birkhead is elected PA PAC will hold him to high standards. He knows what matters. On that basis, he has our support.
Early voting starts next Thursday and we need to elect progressive voices for a better Durham. To make that happen we’re sending our endorsements to 42,000 voters and greeting voters at every early voting site across the city. To make that happen we need:
Help us make Clarence Birkhead and Satana Deberry the next sheriff and DA, send David Price back to Washington and elect Mike Lee, Bettina Umstead, Matt Sears and Natalie Beyer to school board. Learn more about People’s Alliance PAC-endorsement candidates and donate or volunteer.
On March 29, more than 250 PA members--our friends, family and neighbors--voted to endorse progressive voices for the upcoming May 8 election and the election. We choose progressive voices to represent us in Washington and Raleigh, the school board and as Sheriff, District Attorney and Clerk of Superior Court.Read more
Yesterday, more than 250 PA members--our friends, family and neighbors--voted to endorse progressive voices for the upcoming May 8 election and the election. We choose progressive voices to represent us in Washington and Raleigh, the school board and as Sheriff, District Attorney and Clerk of Superior Court.
Endorsements for candidates on the ballot for the May 8 election
United States House of Representatives District 4: David Price
Durham County Sheriff: Clarence Birkhead
Durham County District Attorney: Satana Deberry
Durham County Board of Education District 1: Michael Lee
Durham County Board of Education District 2: Bettina Hope Umstead
Durham County Board of Education District 3: Matthew Sears
Durham County Board of Education District 4: Natalie Jones BeyerRead more
Each election, PA PAC develops a candidate questionnaire to better understand the candidates' positions on the important issues facing Durham. The questionnaires and resumes received to date for the upcoming primary election are provided below.Read more