Pierce Freelon, 33, is the youngest of six candidates running for mayor of Durham. Casey Toth ctoth@heraldsun.com
Pierce Freelon, 33, is the youngest of six candidates running for mayor of Durham. Casey Toth ctoth@heraldsun.com

Elections

In TV’s ‘The Mayor,’ a rapper runs for office. Sound familiar? It does in Durham.

By Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan

dvaughan@heraldsun.com

October 04, 2017 03:10 PM

DURHAM

There’s a new TV sitcom about a young African-American rapper with no political experience who runs for mayor.

Sound familiar? It does for Durhamites. One of Durham’s six mayoral candidates is Pierce Freelon, a young African-American with no political experience and who leads the hip-hop jazz group The Beast.

He rapped a line from his song “Captain America” during a candidates forum in September at the Pinhook, a local bar and music venue.

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“The Mayor” sitcom premiered Tuesday on ABC. It’s about a rapper named Courtney Rose (Brandon Micheal Hall) who runs for office to win publicity to help his music career, but unexpectedly wins.

So how does fictional mayor Courtney Rose match up against real life mayoral candidate Pierce Freelon?

Courtney Rose

Place: California city, population 30,000.

Occupation: Rapper.

Residence: Lives with his mom, a postal carrier.

Age: 27.

Why he ran for mayor: “Why does anyone in my generation do anything? Attention.”

Public event: Leaves campaign party to perform at a concert.

Pierce Freelon

Place: Durham, North Carolina, population 263,000.

Occupation: Hip-hop artist and founder of Blackspace.

Residence: Lives with his wife and kids. His mom is six-time, Grammy Award-nominated singer Nnenna Freelon.

Age: 33.

Why he’s running for mayor: “Because City Council needs bold, visionary leadership and fresh perspectives.”

Public event: Freelon performed a song during a mayoral candidate forum.

Brett Stargell, Freelon’s deputy campaign manager, saw the pilot episode of “The Mayor” and said there are some parallels. Freelon is young, nontraditional, an outsider and the underdog like the main character in “The Mayor,” Stargell said.

Freelon is running alongside Farad Ali, Steve Schewel, Shea Ramirez, Sylvester Williams and Tracy Drinker. The two candidates who get the most votes in Tuesday’s primary will compete in the general election Nov. 7.

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