Durham County

Lots of interest in city council seat, but what about committees?

By Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan


December 27, 2017 11:30 PM


There are 22 people vying for the vacant seat on the Durham City Council, but other city boards have several vacant seats with not enough applicants to even fill the seats.

The city council recently decided to reopen the application period for the new Mayor’s Council For Women, an advisory committee that has been in the works since it was proposed to the previous mayor, Bill Bell, and welomed by the previous mayor pro tem, Cora Cole-McFadden.

The Council For Women’s purpose is to “improve the opportunities and quality of life of women in the City of Durham through civic engagement by promoting the interests and needs of the community at-large; and to serve as a liasion and consultative body between women and the city government officials in order to further promote and protect equal opportunities for all.”

Mayor Steve Schewel said they want the group to really represent the city.

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“We’re very excited about it because it can promote progress for women on a range of issues,” he said. “What it will be, will be determined largely by the members.”

The Council For Women will be a nine-member committee with one member each representing the public safety sector; cultural, recreation or fine arts sector; civil rights/justice sector; and fair housing/economic development sector; plus two at-large members and three ward members. The deadline to apply is Jan. 12.

Aside from the three ward seats, the committee members aren’t required to be city residents if they work at an entity with a place of business within the city that has a principal focus or mission on women’s issues.

As of Dec. 21, no one had applied for the Ward 3 seat nor the public safety or cultural/recreation/fine arts sectors. For Ward 1, Tonya Harrington and former city council member Jacqueline Wagstaff have applied. In Ward 2, Laura Betye and Ashley Canaday have applied.

For civil rights/justice, Hillary Bruce and Gloria De Los Santos applied, and Camille Allen applied for the fair housing/economic development seat.

For the two at-large Council For Women seats, Mary Barzee, Vanessa Collier-Robinson, Leslie Parkins and LaTanya Sobczak applied.

Other boards and committees with vacancies include:

  • Citizens Advisory Committee
  • Durham Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Commission
  • Durham Cultural Advisory Board
  • Durham Planning Commission
  • Firefighter’s Relief Fund Board of Trustees
  • Passenger Vehicle For Hire Commission

Newly elected Durham City Council member DeDreana Freeman was previously a member of the Durham Planning Commission.

Find out more about what each board does and how to apply at https://durhamnc.gov/DocumentCenter/View/15285.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563, @dawnbvaughan