During a regularly scheduled business meeting on April 6, 2020, Durham City Council announced the resignation of our valued councilmember, Vernetta Alston, due to her transition to the North Carolina General Assembly. We are grateful to her for her years of progressive service.
The Durham City Council must now fill the Ward 3 vacancy created by Representative Alston’s departure. People in Durham and beyond are battling personal and financial uncertainties hour by hour, day by day. We cannot let our privilege allow us to move forward without acknowledging and meaningfully responding to our current state of affairs. In light of this, the People’s Alliance PAC will not move forward with facilitating and executing an endorsement process at this time.
Under the circumstances currently imposed upon us by COVID-19 and considerations for public health, public participation in and oversight of our city government is seriously curtailed. Government operations have been reduced to a minimum and the City Council now meets virtually. It is difficult for members of the public to communicate with government officials and to watch or participate in council meetings. Given the importance of public involvement in government in Durham, the City Council should reduce to the barest minimum the business it must do while public engagement is so difficult. As a result, City Council should not undertake to appoint Councilmember Alston’s successor. In a system of representative government, the people should select their council representatives.
Under state law, the council may fill a vacancy through an appointment process. The time allowed for the process, sixty days, is, under normal conditions, sufficient to provide ample opportunity for public input and the highest degree of public scrutiny. But under the extraordinary circumstances imposed by COVID-19, the appointment process cannot be carried out with the level of public engagement necessary to make the selection of a new City Council member an appropriate exercise of democratic government.
Fortunately, Section 13.2(d) of our City Charter provides that the City Council may call for a special election to fill the Alston vacancy instead of using the appointment process: “If the council fails to choose some qualified person within 60 days after the vacancy occurs, it may not fill the vacancy by appointment, but shall call a special election under the provisions of 13.3 of this charter…” The election of Councilmember Alston’s successor may be added to the general election already scheduled for November. And while we acknowledge that it is not ideal to leave a seat on the council vacant for a number of months, we feel that it is preferable to wait and let the people of Durham -residents of Ward 3- decide who should fill the seat rather than allowing the City Council to appoint a new councilmember without full public engagement.
The People’s Alliance PAC endorses David Price for the United State House of Representatives District 4. With the end to Republican gerrymandering of congressional districts, all of Durham County now falls with Price’s district. Representative Price’s determination to prioritize federal funding for affordable housing and public transportation addresses two persistent and critical concerns in Durham. We are impressed with Representative Price’s support of H.R.1 which would fundamentally change the role and power of money in elections. We support Representative Price’s commitment to free public education, a progressive tax system, Medicare for all, expanding civil rights legislation to protect LGBTQ people and climate change mitigation. We believe that Representative Price’s is able to leverage his role in the House and as a member of the Appropriations Committee to fight for legislation that reflects PA’s values.
The People’s Alliance PAC endorses Roy Cooper for Governor on North Carolina. We are impressed by Governor Cooper’s demonstrated support for all residents of our state as evidenced by his veto of HB370. We like his brave position against gun violence. With no support from the Republican-controlled General Assembly he issued an executive order strengthening background checks for firearm purchases. He has also used his executive authority to support the LBGTQ community by stopping state funding for organizations that engage in conversion therapy. Governor Cooper’s position on the minimum wage is aligned PA’s He is committed to signing legislation guaranteeing a $15 minimum wage. On voting rights, the governor has worked to expand access to the polls and in defense of the environment, he has pressed Duke Energy to remove coal ash from its ponds. Governor Cooper’s strong stance in support of teacher raises and Medicaid expansion strongly align with the PA’s vision of a just and equitable North Carolina where all people can live and thrive.
His actions and values align with those of PA; he supports public education and higher teachers’ salaries. He will fight for a progressive tax system, to expand Medicaid, and will work to bridge the rural-urban divide to bring prosperity to all parts of our state. Chaz understands that current majority in the General Assembly has acted to undermine the right to vote, restrict women’s right to make their own health care decisions, and obstruct the rights of LGBTQ+ people in North Carolina, and he will continue to fight back when elected Lt. Governor.
The People’s Alliance endorses Nimasheena Burns for the Durham Board of County Commissioners. Nimasheena is a North Carolina native with an experience working with local, state and the federal
government. With a strong background in cyber security and economics, Nimasheena currently manages an economic development partnership for the Department of Defense which helps small businesses diversify their
portfolios and contracts. The interview committee was impressed with Nimasheena’s experience with managing massive budgets and ability to work effectively with all levels of government. Throughout the
entirety of her professional career, Nimasheena has also advocated for Durham’s most vulnerable communities through several charitable organizations. Nimasheena’s record speaks for itself and she has proven that her
positions on education, criminal justice reform and fair housing align with those of the People’s Alliance. Although she has yet to have held public office in Durham, the interview committee firmly believes that
Nimasheena’s unique skillset, experience and passion will make her a fantastic member of the Board of County Commissioners.
The People’s Alliance endorses Nida Allam for the Durham Board of County Commissioners. Nida is a uniquely talented candidate that brings experience in budgeting, analytics, and strategic thinking – including
serving as a political director for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign. More importantly, she shows a passion in using her talents to empower marginalized communities, and be inclusive when finding solutions. Nida is a
staunch advocate for universal pre-K, increasing access to affordable housing, and addressing poverty. Overall, the People’s Alliance believes that the parts of her platform that target the Durham’s systemic inequities
strongly align with the values that PA strives for.
The People’s Alliance endorses Wendy Jacobs for the Durham Board of County Commissioners. Wendy is seeking her third term as County Commissioner and we believe she will continue to fight for progressive solutions to the issues that we face in Durham. Throughout her last two terms Wendy has made it clear that she is devoted to combating the structural racial and economic inequities in our community. We are convinced that Wendy’s hard work and leadership will continue help unify the elected boards in Durham to fight for the needs of vulnerable communities. In her first two terms Wendy has taken a leading role in establishing a plan for Durham’s aging population. Wendy has also proven herself as a fierce advocate for
Durham’s early childhood education programs and expanding solar energy in our schools. During her time as a County Commissioner Wendy has shown that she is able to give the time to offer leadership and her expertise
on the myriad of programs funded by our County. We believe she will continue to be a strong presence for another term.
The People's Alliance supports Matt Kopac. 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.