Vernetta Alston easily won the Ward 3 City Council seat Tuesday night, according to unofficial results.
Alston held a commanding lead in the race against Shelia Huggins throughout the night.
“We started this campaign with the message that Durham has to be the standard bearer for our progressive values. We have to be a city that responds to the needs of our communities,”Alston told her supporters who gathered at the Surf Club. “I think that this campaign and this election cycle has forced us all to reckon with who we are as progressives, to redefine ourselves.”
Alston garnered 21,209 votes or 62.44 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results. Huggins’ received 12,657 votes or 37.26 percent.
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About 50 people, including Alston’s parents, her wife and others gathered at the Rigsbee Street bar.
“I started this race out as an underdog, running against an incumbent with a very established base and against other self-described progressives - whatever that means – and other folks who had larger established political communities,” Alston said. “What I did was commit myself to the values of equality, fairness and inclusion. You all did the work. You all are the ones who hosted parties where I met you and you told me what you needed and what you wanted.”
A Celine Dion impersonator lip-sang “My Heart Will Go” after Alston’s speech. Dion was the campaign’s artist of choice according to Alston’s campaign manager Holly Hardin.
Alston, 35, a former Center for Death Penalty Litigation attorney, was endorsed by the People’s Alliance Political Alliance Committee.
Alston has said Durham doesn’t face one issue, but rather choices about how it moves forward and whom it prioritizes. She sees affordable housing as a priority as well as policing, the environment, parks and recreation and public transit.
Huggins, 50, an attorney, was endorsed by the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People. Huggins couldn’t be reached for comment.
Ward 3 incumbent Don Moffitt, who placed third in the Oct. 10 primary, also endorsed Huggins.
Alston said there are many issues the City Council needs to prioritize.
“No one issue is more important than another,” she said. “I would like to see if there’s a way that we could make the City Council meetings, our print materials, our agendas, our reports, manuals, everything more accessible to folks who are Spanish-speaking. I’d like to see if there is a way to make that happen.”
Ward 3 includes the western section of the city. Candidates have to live in the ward but are elected citywide.
The Durham County Board of Elections’ final canvass will be done Nov. 17. City Council members serve a four-year term and will be sworn in Dec. 4.
Durham City Council
Vernetta Alston ... 62.44%
Shelia Huggins ... 37.26%
59 of 59 precincts reporting