Durham, NC, city mayor city council primary results


Former judge Elaine O’Neal and city council member Javiera Caballero are running for mayor of Durham.

On Tuesday night, voters made it clear who they wanted to see made the changes they believed Bull City needed.

In the race for mayor, Elaine O’Neal, former judge and interim dean of NC Central University Law School, received 13,586 votes. City council member Javiera Caballero finished second, with 4,925 votes.

“I am touched by the support from my community, and once again they show me that I am a Durham girl,” O’Neal said Tuesday night.

O’Neal and Caballero, who were among seven mayoral candidates in the non-partisan primary, will now face each other in the general election on November 2. Mayor Steve Schewel has decided not to run for a third term.

The final but unofficial results showed that about 10% of registered voters voted, according to the state Election Council website. The first two of each race now pass through November.

“These primaries help serve as a filtering system,” said Antonio Jones, chairman of the Durham Committee on Black Affairs, which endorsed O’Neal.

“Fields can get crowded for some races,” Jones said, “but in terms of civic engagement, increasing voter turnout has always been a struggle in a non-presidential year election.”

“But for this particular election, Durham has spoken,” he said.

The problem of gun violence in the city may have been a problem for primary voters, who have strongly supported O’Neal and two city council incumbents who have supported the hiring of more police officers in recent years.

Incumbents DeDreana Freeman and Mark-Anthony Middleton finished far ahead in their nominations to retain their Council seats in Ward 1 and Ward 2, respectively.

The participation rate

About 1 in 10 registered voters voted in the non-partisan primary. In 2017, the participation rate was 13.47%. In 2019, the participation rate was 8.96%.

Stephen Gheen, the former chairman of the County Durham Democratic Party, says the low turnout may reflect voters’ dissatisfaction with national politics.

“There seems to be an increasing intensity in the political process and people are turned off by politics at the national level and it reverberates at the local level,” he said.

“People get angry and don’t vote, or are bothered enough to vote,” Gheen added. “In this case, those who voted in the primary elections care the most. ”

He believes turnout will increase for the November elections.


In the mayoral race, O’Neal raised the most money, $ 40,815, and spent $ 12,260.32, according to pre-primary campaign fundraising reports filed last week.

Caballero had raised $ 34,058.75 and spent $ 4,891.39, according to his report. Her too

But money may not have been a factor in Ward 1, where challenger Marion T. Johnson raised more than any other council candidate, $ 54,610.76, and also spent the most. silver, $ 38,833.09.

Johnson, who along with Caballero was backed by the Progressive People’s Alliance PAC in Durham, received 5,189 votes to finish second behind Freeman, who received 13,468 votes. The two women will now face each other in November.

Freeman, which was approved by the Durham committee, raised $ 29,627.52 and spent $ 19,405.24, according to his report.

On Wednesday, she attributed her wide margin of victory to her stance of wanting more police officers in Durham, she said.

“I have a feeling people voted the way they did because of the violence that we have seen over the past three months,” Freeman said.

Middleton, who in addition to supporting more police officers, has advocated for gunshot detection technology, said he was confident entering the primary. He finished with 16,255 votes, far ahead of Sylvester Williams with 1,718 votes.

“Durham remains a highly desirable city, and I think I have a pretty compelling case to present to people for another four years,” he said Tuesday evening.

There was no primary in Ward 3, where the only two contenders, Leonardo Williams and AJ Williams, will automatically switch to election day in November. They are running for the seat currently occupied by Pierce Freelon, who is not standing for election.

The voter registration deadline for the November 2 election is 5 p.m. Friday, October 8. Mail-in requests to vote must be received by 5 p.m. on October 26.

One-stop early voting in the general election will run from Thursday, October 14 to Saturday, October 30.

Primary vote totals


Elaine O’Neal, 67.96%

Javiera Caballero, 24.63%

Jahnmaud Lane, 2.95%

Rebecca Harvard Barnes, 1.73%

Sabrina “Bree” Davis, 1.13%

Daryl Fast, 1.06%

Charlitta Burruss, 0.55%


DeDreana Freeman, 69.61%

Marion T. Johnson, 26.82%

Elizabeth Takla, 2.07%

Waldo Fenner, 1.49%


Mark-Anthony Middleton, 85.91%

Sylvester Williams, 9.08%

Robert Curtis Jr, 5.01%

The Durham Report

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This story was originally published October 6, 2021 4:28 pm.

Melissa C. Keyes