People’s Alliance Political Action Committee
N E W S R E L E A S E
People’s Alliance PAC Endorses a Team That Will Ensure a Durham for Everyone
At a meeting held Tuesday evening, August 25, nearly 200 members of the People’s Alliance PAC came together to debate and vote on who the PAC will endorse in the upcoming Durham Mayor and city council races. By the end of the meeting, they had voted to support the re-election of Mayor Bill Bell and council member Steve Schewel. The PAC also voted to endorse newcomers Jillian Johnson and Charlie Reece for the two other at-large council seats. PAC Coordinator Tom Miller stated “These candidates will support and advocate for policies that will ensure we have a Durham that works for everyone.”
The PAC strongly supports the re-election of William V. “Bill” Bell as the mayor of Durham for his eighth two-year term. No one in Durham can match his record of selfless public service. PA PAC is proud that its members were among those who convinced Bell to run for mayor the first time 14 years ago. He has been an effective, business-friendly leader of Durham’s city government and has been a consistent voice for downtown revitalization, affordable housing, public transit, public amenities (including parks and sidewalks), wise land use, and safe neighborhoods. Bell is a practical progressive. He is unafraid to confront difficult problems in the community head on.
When he was chairman of the Durham Board of County Commissioners, he pushed through the merger of Durham’s largely segregated city and county school systems. As mayor, Bell has led the fight against poverty and inner-city decay.
PAC leader and housing advocate Lorisa Seibel said “We agree with Mayor Bell that reducing poverty, increasing affordable housing, and revitalizing distressed neighborhoods are the top issues facing Durham at this time. However, the challenge for Durham is how to work with neighborhoods to bring about revitalization that avoids wholesale displacement of current residents.” During the meeting, PAC members applauded Mayor Bell for voting for demanding affordable housing near planned transit stops, launching a “Neighborhood by Neighborhood Anti-Poverty Initiative,” recommending that the Human Relations Commission study the issue of police-community relations, and his decisive vote in favor of the 15-501 “road diet.”
Long-time PAC spokesman Milo Pyne stated that “in his interview with us, Bill expressed unequivocal support for legislation designed to protect gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodation, and access to government benefits and services.”
Tom Miller concluded that “Bill Bell has our unqualified endorsement to continue serving as Durham’s mayor. Durham should count its blessings to have had the gift of Bill Bell’s lifetime of service.”
At-large City Council (three seats)
In the at-large City council contest, PA-PAC endorses incumbent Steve Schewel and newcomers Jillian Johnson and Charlie Reece.
Incumbent Council member Steve Schewel 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 prosperity for all and to support growth that enhances rather than diminishes our small-city quality of life. Schewel came to Durham many years ago to attend Duke University. In his time here he has been a small business owner, a journalist, a teacher, and a youth soccer coach.
Steve will continue to support an affordable housing strategy that works; strong council oversight of our police force; a mobility strategy for the next 50 years; $15 million worth of sidewalks; Improving our trails, bike lanes, parks, ballfields and tree canopy; attention to the needs of our Hispanic residents; continued attention to basic City services and infrastructure; and support for the Mayor’s anti-poverty initiative in East Durham.
“Schewel’s leadership and forward thinking on affordable housing is unparalleled.” said Jade Brooks, the newest PA PAC leader. “Just look at the affordable housing plan he provided in his answers to the PAC questionnaire. He is also very clear that Durham needs effective, community-led accountability of the police force to end racial profiling and bias-based policing.”
Carl Rist served on the committee that interviewed this year’s candidates. He stated that “There has not been a more consistent progressive voice on the city council than Steve Schewel. Steve’s grasp of the details of virtually all aspects of city government is remarkable.”
PA-PAC supported Steve Schewel for city council four years ago. He has justified the PAC’s trust in him.
Charlie Reece is an attorney and businessman. He has been a Durham resident for nearly nine years. During his career he has served as a prosecutor and as a member of the Attorney General’s staff. He knows government and the important role it plays in the lives of ordinary people. He has proven himself to be an informed and persuasive community advocate. Recently, he played an especially important role in forming and articulating the FADE (Fostering Alternatives to Drug Enforcement) Coalition’s position on recent serious police-community issues. The FADE recommendations were endorsed by the People’s Alliance and other community groups.
Milo Pyne said “Charlie’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.”
With regard to some of PA’s key issues, Reece supports the proposal last year to earmark a penny of the property tax rate for parks, the council’s resolution calling for more affordable housing near planned transit stops, the 15-501 road diet. Charlie opposes paying for essential city services with regressive fees. On council he will expect developers to contribute directly to efforts to develop more affordable housing. Reece supports effort to insure that those who live and work in Durham receive a living wage.
Concerning Reece, Carl Rist stated, “The family business that Charlie 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, Inc., employs nearly 400 people.
PAC coordinator James Hill added that “Charlie would be a consistent progressive voice on City Council, is eager to serve, and would bring a progressive understanding of the issues and an important legal background to the council.”
Jillian Johnson currently works as the Director of Operations for the Southern Vision Alliance, a youth leadership and civic engagement program, and previously worked for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. She is making her first bid for elective office and serves on the adult board of iNSIDE oUT, an organization that supports LGBTQ youth in the Triangle.
The single most important issue for Johnson in this election is confronting the ongoing process of gentrification and displacement of low-income families. Jillian will work to provide more affordable housing by bringing together city and nonprofit housing resources, by demanding more from developers that seek city funding or significant zoning changes, by involving members of the community in the process, and by ensuring that race equity is addressed in affordable housing plans. Her thoughtful compassion for those for whom prosperity has been illusive is compelling to PA PAC members.
Jillian is committed to high-quality open space and public facilities and would fund these through property tax revenues. She supports the recently adopted resolution calling for more affordable housing near planned transit stops. She also supports the 15-501 road diet and would be an advocate for bike and pedestrian travel. Finally, she will urge continued close oversight of the police department, given ongoing concerns about eroded police-community relations.
Jade Brooks said “Jillian would bring a strong progressive voice to the council, a voice from the social justice community who is deeply accountable to those who rarely have a voice in city politics. Johnson is just the kind of candidate Durham needs now: someone committed to meaningful, courageous policies to support affordable housing, real racial equity in our city, and meaningful mechanisms for community accountability from our police and police department leadership.”
About PA PAC
For nearly 40 years, the People’s Alliance Political Action Committee has been a vital part of the political life of Durham. PA-PAC takes the business of candidate endorsements very seriously. Candidates are asked to submit responses to questionnaires designed to test their political positions and their understanding of important issues. Candidates are interviewed by PAC leaders. At the PAC’s endorsement meeting, every member stands on an equal footing in the debate, and everyone who wishes to be heard is given the opportunity to speak. Endorsements are decided not by a small committee, but by a vote of the whole membership. To learn more about the People’s Alliance and its PAC, visit www.durhampa.org and click on the PA PAC button. The candidates’ responses to this election’s PA-PAC questionnaire are posted on the PAC webpage.
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The number one thing we should be doing NOW is pushing voting in the 2013 Election. Here's why:
This is the LAST YEAR to register at Early Voting!
- We need to let voters know about upcoming changes to voting, and that NOTHING has changed this year!
- The choice is this race is critical! PA's endorsed candidates support MARRIAGE EQUALITY and OPPOSE 751 South.
- Durham may elect one person to the city council who fundamentally opposes equal rights for gay and lesbian people and two people who favor development instead of protecting our drinking water!
- This election is a building block for the critical 2014 work - gaining volunteers and momentum along the way!
Eddie Davis and Don Moffitt need your help to win! They are progressive leaders in Durham. And if we don't put in the work this fall, we will be disappointed on November 2nd.
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DURHAM PEOPLE’S ALLIANCE PAC ENDORSES MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES
Members of the Durham People’s Alliance Political Action Committee met yesterday evening to endorse candidates for the upcoming Mayor and City Council elections. Presiding over the meeting were the PAC’s coordinators, Milo Pyne, Lorisa Seibel, James Hill and Tom Miller.
For mayor, the group chose Durham’s current mayor Bill Bell over challengers Michael Valentine and Sylvester Williams. “PA members have always liked Bill Bell.” said Tom Miller, one of the PAC’s coordinators. “Our leaders were among those who asked Bill to run for the mayor’s job back in 2001.” Miller continued. “What members said over and over is that Bell is fair-minded, independent, and deeply committed to the community.” added Milo Pyne, another of the group’s coordinators. Pyne continued, “There are those who have criticized Bill’s handling of the 751 issue in the recent session of the General Assembly.” referring to Bell’s desire to reach a compromise with Representative Tim Moore of King’s Mountain, the powerful Republican chairman of the house rules committee, over the extension of water and sewer to the controversial 751 South development. But on the whole, Pyne said, members accepted Bell’s explanation that he was trying to do what he thought was best in an adverse political situation.
PAC coordinator James Hill said that “on the whole, Bill Bell is a practical progressive. You may not agree with every decision he makes, but you cannot deny that he makes thoughtful decisions within the band of reasonable choices on any given issue. He listens to everyone, but bows to no one. In the end, Bill’s decisions are his own.”
We like what has been happening in Durham under “Bell’s leadership,” said Pyne. The People’s Alliance sees no reason to change now.
Alliance members enjoyed newcomer Michael Valentine’s enthusiasm, but enthusiasm is no substitute for Bell’s seasoned leadership and proven progressive credentials. Candidate Sylvester Williams seems to view his bid for office as an extension of his ministry. In addition, his lack of understanding or sympathy for the rights of gay and lesbian people is disturbing.
For the ward one city council seat, the PA-PAC endorsed incumbent Cora Cole-McFadden, the mayor pro-tem. Cole McFadden is running unopposed. “Essentially, we see Cora’s voice on the council as the voice of compassion,” said Miller “and her commitment to the disadvantaged members of the community is outstanding.”
For the Ward two council seat held by Howard Clement, III, who is stepping down after serving seven full terms of council service, the PAC selected Eddie Davis. “You cannot help but be impressed by Eddie Davis,” said Lorisa Seibel, another of the PAC’s four coordinators. “He is intelligent, educated, and deeply committed to the welfare of Durham’s citizens.” From his years as a teacher at Hillside High School and leader of the Durham City Association of Educators, Davis has an insight into the needs and aspirations of Durham’s young people that few others possess. “I was impressed by his capacity for patience and his ability to listen to and absorb what stakeholders have to say. Even in disagreement, Davis displays a gentle firmness of resolve which engenders trust.” said Miller. Milo Pyne added “We like his position on the 751 South development. We think that he appreciates the complexity of this issue, but he comes down firmly on the side of the Durham taxpayers’ interests as well as the region’s drinking water quality.” Due to his long service with the public schools, he is justifiably skeptical of charter schools. He is concerned about their impact on the diversity of, and the public support for, the Durham Public Schools.
Across the board, People’s Alliance members appreciated the fullness and frankness of Davis’s responses to the questions in the organization’s questionnaire. They were also impressed by the fact that for the past a year he has prepped for the council job by attending nearly every council meeting and work session. James Hill said “Eddie hasn’t just read the newspaper and reviewed the city website. He has listened, in person, to what the mayor, the council, the city staff, and the people have said in meeting after meeting. That commitment and understanding are reflected in his questionnaire.”
We deeply appreciate the public service and deep commitment of Del Mattioli to the welfare of Durham’s citizens, and some members support her candidacy, but her positions on the 751 South development as well support of using city dollars to fund charter schools give other members pause. She is certainly a credible candidate for the ward 2 seat, but her views on these issues do not align closely enough with the views of PA-PAC members. Omar Beasley has proven himself to be a tough campaigner in his bid for a seat on the county commission last year, but Davis’s positions on the issue and long commitment to public service were compelling to PA members. Reverend Franklin Haines is a newcomer to Durham politics, and we applaud his passion for the needs of north-central Durham.
In the ward 3 contest, the meeting endorsed incumbent Don Moffitt. In Moffitt, the savvy of the chamber of commerce and the progressive’s desire for economic and social justice come neatly together. Moffitt has a degree in architecture from the University of Texas and an MBA from the Keenan-Flagler Business School at UNC. His business experience includes overseeing the expansion of Whole Foods into North Carolina and the southeast. Currently, Don is a business consultant whose clients include local businesses in Durham and Chapel Hill, regional players such as Capitol Broadcasting in Raleigh, and national giants like Whole Foods and General Mills. Don has also been active in Durham non-profits, including service as the former president and treasurer of the Eno River Association and as former president of the Durham People’s Alliance. Pyne, who has served with Moffitt in both organizations, said “Wherever Don Moffitt has been involved, he has used his business experience to put the group on a sound organizational and financial footing.” During his eight months on the city council, Moffitt has shown himself to be very well informed in the complicated business of municipal finances and a watchdog over the public’s money. Tom Miller said “Don does his homework, and is not just someone who just repeats to you what he thinks you want to hear. When Don decides his position on an issue, he can tell you the reasons and they always make sense.” Miller continued “We liked the way Moffitt dove into his work on the planning commission where he served as member and chair in two terms. Moffitt learned the zoning code and did not just depend on the planning department to explain the intricacies of each case. Don often worked directly with opposing sides by suggesting real and practical compromises. We have seen the same level of involvement since he has joined the city council. Since so much council energy is devoted to development issues, we need Don’s expertise and capacity for problem solving at the council level.”
At the meeting, several members noted that Pam Karriker, Moffitt’s opponent in the race, is not aligned with the People’s Alliance on the 751 South issue, charter schools, and marriage equality.
The turnout at Tuesday evening’s meeting was very high. “I think that reflects both the significant jump in the People’s Alliance membership over the last two years and a high degree of interest in electoral politics in Durham.” said PAC coordinator James Hill. “I was pleased to see so many new members joining the long term members like me,” he added. Candidates worked the crowd at the door as members checked in and the meeting itself ran nearly three hours. “At our meetings, everyone who wants to speak gets to speak.” said Seibel. “It’s a PAC tradition. When you know you will get your chance, it reduces tension and encourages everyone to listen. The process is respectful and deliberative.” she said.
The People’s Alliance and its PAC have been active in Durham political life for nearly 40 years. Candidate endorsements are made by the members of the organization in a democratic process where decisions are made by a vote of the majority. In preparation for endorsement debates, the PAC researches candidates’ backgrounds and challenges them on the issues with interviews and questionnaires. CLICK HERE to learn more about the 2013 Election and to here to read candidates questionnaires.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR: 2013 Endorsement Meeting!
Tuesday, August 27th. 6:30 p.m.
St. Luke’s Church – 1737 Hillandale Rd.
All members are eligible and encouraged to attend. You may join at the door, however, only those who have been members 30 days or more are allowed to vote per the PA-PAC bylaws.
Our decision making process will be better with YOU in attendance!
BUT FIRST…Come To a PA Candidate Mixer!
Wednesday, August 21st, 5:30-7 p.m.
Motorco Garage – 723 Geer Street
We want you to get to know the candidates…but more importantly, we want the candidates to get to know YOU!
PA-PAC is preparing for the 2013 City Council elections! With a dramatically expanded membership and committed and experienced volunteers, PAC expects to play a vital role in these important local races.
The races at stake are the mayor’s office and the three city council ward seats. The incumbents are Mayor Bill Bell and council members Cora Cole-McFadden (Ward 1), Howard Clement, III (Ward 2), and Don Moffitt (Ward 3). Under the rules governing the ward races, a candidate must reside in the ward to be eligible to run for that ward seat. Elections are city-wide, however, and every registered voter will be able to vote in all three ward races.
Candidate filing opens on July 5 and closes at noon on July 19. For more information, contact the Durham Board of Elections, www.durhamcountync.gov/elections . As each candidate files, PA-PAC will ask him or her to complete a written questionnaire designed to sound the candidate out on his or her positions on the issues. When all questionnaires are returned, PAC will publish them on the PA website. Candidates will also be invited to interview with PAC’s interview committee. Although completion of PA PAC’s questionnaire and an interview are not pre-requisites for PA PAC endorsement, candidates who do not participate in the PAC’s information-gathering process may be at a disadvantage in the endorsement process.
PA-PAC endorsements are made by PA members at a well-publicized meeting. At the meeting, the interview committee may recommend one candidate over another, but the endorsement decision will ultimately be made by a majority vote of the members in attendance. The process is highly deliberative. After hearing the interview committee’s report, the question of who will receive the PAC’s endorsement is placed before the members. Debate is not concluded until every member who wishes to be heard has had an opportunity to speak. To encourage a frank and open discussion, the meeting is open only to PA members who agree that when they discuss the meeting later with anyone who was not in attendance no statements made in the meeting will be attributed to a speaker. Candidates and members of their families who are PA members may attend the meeting, but they will be asked to excuse themselves during the body’s deliberation and decision-making in their own races. The thoroughness of the PAC’s investigation of candidates and the integrity of the PAC’s decision-making process has made PA-PAC’s endorsement influential among thousands of Durham’s voters and sought after by Durham candidates.
The election of candidates endorsed by PA-PAC will be promoted in the press, through advertising, by direct mail, and at the polls by PAC volunteers. PA-PAC does not make direct contributions of money to candidates or their campaign committees.
Candidates or prospective candidates who wish to know more about the Durham People’s Alliance and its PAC are encouraged to contact any of the PAC’s coordinators or PA’s staff:
Durham People’s Alliance PAC Coordinators
Milo Pyne (919) 956-5290 [email protected]
Lorisa Seibel (919) 286-4319 [email protected]
James Hill (919) 213-0888 [email protected]
Tom Miller (919) 599-7618 [email protected]
Durham People’s Alliance Staff: (919) 682-7777 [email protected]
We owe a big "thank you" to our bylaw committee, and especially to Tom Miller, whose legalese made this possible.
At its meeting Thursday, December 6, the Durham People’s Alliance endorsed Don Moffitt for appointment to the Ward 3 City Council seat soon to be vacated by Mike Woodard. Woodard will resign the seat effective December 31 in order to take his new post in the North Carolina Senate. The city council will appoint someone to finish the remaining year of Woodard’s incomplete term, then Durham voters will decide who will fill the Ward 3 seat in the 2013 council elections.
Moffitt is one of four applicants vying to fill the vacancy. The other three are Anita Daniels, Edward Kwon, and Jason Melehani. Of these, only Daniels and Moffitt actively pursued the People’s Alliance PAC endorsement by completing candidate questionnaires and meeting with the organization’s leaders. After an hour of debate Thursday night, the PAC’s members voted to endorse Moffitt.
During discussions it became clear that People’s Alliance members want someone who, like Woodard, will earn the trust and respect of the whole Durham community. Moffitt was praised for his ability to move between activist groups and the business community. “In Don, the savvy of the chamber of commerce and the progressive’s desire for economic and social justice come neatly together.” said PA PAC coordinator Tom Miller. Moffitt has a degree in architecture from the University of Texas and an MBA from the Keenan-Flagler Business School at UNC. He was for many years an executive of Whole Foods and oversaw the company’s expansion into North Carolina and the southeast. Currently Don is a business consultant with a client list that includes local businesses in Durham and Chapel Hill, regional players such as Capitol Broadcasting in Raleigh, and national giants like Whole Foods and General Mills. At the same time, Don has been active in Durham non-profits. He has been the president of the Eno River Association and recently served as that organization’s treasurer. He is also a former president of the Durham People’s Alliance. “Wherever Don has been involved, he has used his business experience to put the group on a sound organizational and financial footing.” said Milo Pyne, who shares PA PAC’s gavel with Miller. “If Don is appointed to fill Mike’s unexpired city council term, I expect him to be a serious watchdog over the public’s money.” Pyne added.
Moffitt served two terms on the City-County Planning Commission, considered by many to be a stepping stone to council service. There he quickly earned a reputation for patient fairness not only among the citizens who appeared before the Commission, but also among his fellow commission members who twice elected him to chair the body. Don often led the commission through a code-based analysis of the merits of sometimes contentious zoning cases. This leadership through patience, knowledge, and trust makes a strong argument in favor of Moffitt’s bid for the Ward 3 council appointment.
On the issues, Moffitt’s questionnaire responses indicate that he is well-informed and ready to step into the council’s business. “Don’s positions on thorny problems, like the need for low-income housing and the extension of water and sewer services beyond the boundaries set out in Durham’s comprehensive plans show not only knowledge, but a thoughtful decisiveness.” said Miller. “Don is not someone who just repeats back to people what he thinks they want to hear. He is methodical. He studies. He listens. He applies his considerable skills. And then he decides. When he decides, he can tell you the reasons and they always make sense.” Miller continued. “But he is not doctrinaire. This is the practical, business side in him coming out. As chair of the Planning Commission we frequently saw Don not only urging zoning opponents to compromise, but suggesting to them the areas where compromise might satisfy both sides.”
According to Milo Pyne, “Few people are better prepared as Don Moffitt to hit the ground running as a city an appointed city council member. Durham People’s Alliance PAC urges the City Council to appoint Don at its earliest opportunity. The community will not regret it.” Longtime PA member Mark Hellman added, “Don has the same position on a number of important issues as the Council member he would replace. So I hope the Council will honor Mike Woodard's work by appointing the candidate who can best continue it.”
The People’s Alliance and its PAC have been active in Durham political life for nearly 40 years. Candidate endorsements are made by the members of the organization in a democratic process where every member who desires to speak is guaranteed the right to do so. In preparation for endorsement debates, the PAC researches candidates’ backgrounds and challenges them on the issues with interviews and questionnaires.
Click to read Don Moffitt and Anita Daniels PA-PAC Questionnaires.
This should be a quick proceeding. But we also have business to go over, such as proposed PAC bylaws, and of course some socializing while we review the election and celebrate our success.
PA-PAC "Bonus" Endorsement Meeting
Thursday, December 6th at 6:30 p.m
St. Luke's Church - 1737 Hillandale Road
The party will get started after the polls close. PA will provide food and entertainment for our volunteers and supporters at Motorco, and we'll watch results on the big screen. Next door at Fullsteam, Durham for Obama will be watching live results. Down the street at The Bar DFO will be rocking too. The 700 Block of Rigsbee is Election Night Central!
CLICK HERE FOR FLYER AND MORE DETAILS!