A voting sign in the Durham County Board of Elections office in downtown Durham. Election Day is Nov. 7. Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan dvaughan@heraldsun.com
A voting sign in the Durham County Board of Elections office in downtown Durham. Election Day is Nov. 7. Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan dvaughan@heraldsun.com

Elections

Ready to elect a new Durham mayor and council? What you should know.

By Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan

dvaughan@heraldsun.com

November 06, 2017 06:00 AM

UPDATED November 06, 2017 05:54 PM

DURHAM

Durham’s municipal general election is Tuesday, Nov. 7. A new mayor and at least two new City Council members will be elected.

Mayor Pro Tem Cora Cole-McFadden is the only incumbent on the ballot. Polls are open on Tuesday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Find your polling place at dconc.gov/elect.

Early voting ballots cast in Durham totaled 9,398 through the final day of general municipal election early voting on Saturday. Of four early voting sites, the highest number of votes cast was at the Board of Elections office downtown, with 3,520 votes cast. It was closely followed by the South Regional Library site, with 3,519 votes cast there.

More women cast votes than men, with 5,606 votes total during early voting compared to just 3,667 ballots cast by men. The rest of the ballots did not include designation of gender. Early voting by party was overwhelmingly Democrat, with 6,956 votes cast by Democrats, 2,035 by unaffiliated voters, 397 by Republicans and 10 by Libertarians.

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Durham’s municipal races are nonpartisan.

The highest turnout came on the final day of early voting, Saturday, Nov. 4, with 1,435 votes cast. White voters were the highest turnout by race, with 5,076 total votes, followed by African Americans at 3,751. By age, the highest voting block was ages 58 to 67, with 2,240 votes cast.

Primary turnout this year was higher than usual, at 13.4 percent of the county’s registered voters, 25,470 total votes cast. Durham County Board of Elections Director Derek Bowens said that there is same-day registration during early voting, so the number of eligible voters in this election is approximately 189,000.

Some Durham County voters live geographically in Chapel Hill or Raleigh so they vote in those elections. There are also a few precincts outside Durham County that vote in Durham elections for similar reasons.

In the 2015 municipal election, voter turnout was 7.8 percent in the primary and 10.6 percent in the general election.

Bowens said Friday that primary turnout was more intense because of the large candidate field. The primary narrowed the mayoral and three city council ward races to two candidates each. Farad Ali and Steve Schewel are competing for mayor.

Schewel is a council member and Ali is a former council member. Schewel’s council seat, which is an at-large seat, has two years left on his term. If he wins the mayoral race, the council will appoint a person to his at-large seat for the remainder of that term from an applicant pool.

The other Durham City Council at-large members are Jillian Johnson and Charlie Reece.

The city council also has three ward seats, but while the council member must reside in the ward, the voters do not. So on election day, voters will pick a candidate for each of the ward seats as well as the mayor. The mayor and three council seats are on the ballot.

Bowens credited this year’s increase in turnout to the lack of an incumbent mayor and three council ward races being tested. Ward 1 candiate Cole-McFadden is the only incumbent who made it through the primary. She is being challenged by DeDreana Freeman. Ward 3 City Council member Don Moffitt did not make it through the primary, so he will be replaced by either Vernetta Alston or Shelia Ann Huggins for the Ward 3 seat. Ward 2 council member Eddie Davis did not seek reelection, so he will be replaced by either Rev. Mark-Anthony Middleton or John Rooks Jr.

Pre-election campaign finance reports show a campaign’s total fundraising. How much each candidate raised, according to State Board of Elections campaign finance reports:

▪  Farad Ali: $158,094.86 (latest report as Oct. 23).

▪  Steve Schewel: $92,197.50 (latest report as of Oct. 2).

▪  Cora Cole-McFadden: $1,750 (latest report as of Oct. 2).

▪  DeDreana Freeman: $21,337.78 (latest report as of Oct. 23).

▪  Mark-Anthony Middleton: $7,798.39 (latest report as of Oct. 2).

▪  John Rooks Jr.: No data available electronically.

▪  Vernetta Alston: $44,412.87 (latest report as of Oct. 23).

▪  Shelia Ann Huggins: $9,457. (latest report as of Oct. 23).

New council members and the new mayor will be sworn in at the Dec. 4 Durham City Council meeting.

Find out your polling place and other Durham election information at dconc.gov/government/departments-a-e/board-of-elections. All GoDurham buses are fare free from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7 to make it easier to get to the polls.

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