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.
PA PAC Hosts Biggest Endorsement Meeting in its History. Members Endorse Cooper for Governor and Others Up and Down the Ballot
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...Read more
This year, your People's Alliance PAC was honored to have larger participation by candidates in its endorsement process than ever before. That candidates up and down the ballot want to be a part of the PA PAC's endorsement process speaks to the value of our endorsement locally and state-wide.
The PA PAC relies on volunteers to vet candidates and make thoughtful recommendations to the membership. For the 2020 election, we had four interview committees.
- The state interview committee interviewed 20 candidates, including candidates for US Senate down to State House. More statewide candidates than ever before sought our endorsement in 2020.
- The education committee interviewed all five of the candidates for the Durham Board of Education
- The law committee interviewed eight candidates for NC Court of Appeals and NC Supreme Court.
- The local interview committee interviewed nine candidates for Board of County Commissioners.
All told, 25 people volunteered to serve on interview committees and vetted over 40 candidates. Please join PA PAC in thanking everyone who took part in the process. It's been a heavy lift in a very short amount of time, and we appreciate the volunteers and the candidates who helped make this the largest endorsement process in PA PAC's history.
The People's Alliance PAC endorsement is valuable because voters trust the process, and we are able to publicize our endorsements by sending mailers to likely voters and placing paid pollworkers at high-turnout early voting and election day polls. Paying for mailers and for the time of our pollworkers is expensive and worth every penny; we ask that you support the continued influence of the PA PAC by making a donation today.
People's Alliance PAC 2020 Endorsement Meeting Scheduled for Tuesday, January 14
PA PAC members will meet at Shepard Magnet Middle School (2401 Dakota Street, Durham, NC 27707) on Tuesday, January 14 at 7pm to debate and endorse those candidates for local and statewide races, in preparation for the March 3, 2020 statewide primary, who share our progressive values.
RSVP to the Endorsement Meeting here.Read more
Note that PA PAC did not create questionnaires for the following offices: US President, NC Commission of Labor, NC Commissioner of Agriculture, NC Auditor, NC Attorney General, NC Commissioner of Insurance, NC Secretary of State, NC Superior Court Judge District 14A, NC District Court Judge District 14, or Durham County Register of Deeds.
PA PAC reached out to all candidates (regardless of party affiliation) for offices for which we created questionnaires, and offered them the opportunity to participate in the endorsement process. Those candidates with links below their names chose to participate. Candidates for each office are listed in alphabetical order by last name.
Durham County Board of County Commissioners
Nida Allam (DEM)
Nate Baker (DEM)
LeVon Barnes (DEM)
Nimasheena Burns (DEM)
Patrick Byker (DEM)
Heidi Carter (DEM)
Tara Fikes (DEM)
Fred Foster Jr. (DEM)
James Hill (DEM)
Brenda Howerton (DEM)
Wendy Jacobs (DEM)
Matt Kopac (DEM)
Regina Mays (DEM)
Michael Page (DEM)
John Rooks Jr. (DEM)Read more
The People’s Alliance PAC is working to schedule the 2020 endorsement meeting in preparation for the March 3, 2020, statewide primary election. While there is still much to discuss on the recent municipal election, we wanted to provide an update and notice on several key deadlines for the meeting.
We expect to hold this year’s endorsement meeting on January 14, 15 or 16, and possibly later than that date. You must be a People’s Alliance member to participate in the endorsement meeting.
For existing PA members, and lapsed members who have not yet renewed their membership for the 2019 calendar year, you can renew online at any time up before the endorsement meeting to speak on behalf of a candidate and vote for your preferred candidates.
For people who are considering PA membership and would like to attend and vote at the endorsement meeting, you must join PA at least 60 days before the endorsement meeting--or November 15. While the endorsement meeting may be held later than January 14 due to venue availability, it will not be held earlier than that date, so any new members that join on or before November 15 will be assured of the ability to vote at the endorsement meeting.
New members who join less than 60 days before the January endorsement meeting may attend the meeting and speak on behalf of candidates but may not vote to endorse a candidate at that meeting. They will be able to vote at all subsequent endorsement meetings if they renew their memberships in advance of the meeting.
New members that have joined PA for the first time on or after October 1, 2019, but before the November 15 deadline will be able to vote at the January endorsement meeting. While memberships typically expire at the end of the calendar year, new members that have joined since October 1 will have their memberships extended to expire December 31, 2020.
We expect to notify members of the date and venue in the coming weeks.