Steve Schewel addresses the crowd gathered at Pompieri Pizza to celebrate his mayoral victory Tuesday night. Schewel’s soon-to-be vacated Durham City Council seat will be filled by a candidate appointed by the new City Council some time after Dec. 4. Casey Toth ctoth@heraldsun.com
Steve Schewel addresses the crowd gathered at Pompieri Pizza to celebrate his mayoral victory Tuesday night. Schewel’s soon-to-be vacated Durham City Council seat will be filled by a candidate appointed by the new City Council some time after Dec. 4. Casey Toth ctoth@heraldsun.com

Elections

Mayor-elect Schewel’s council seat isn’t open yet, but someone already wants it

By Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan

dvaughan@heraldsun.com

November 08, 2017 02:27 PM

UPDATED November 08, 2017 03:03 PM

DURHAM

A former mayoral candidate has already announced he’ll apply for the Durham City Council seat Mayor-elect Steve Schewel will vacate when he is sworn in as mayor on Dec. 4.

Pierce Freelon did not make it through the mayoral primary, coming in third behind Schewel and Farad Ali with 15.8 percent of the votes. Schewel was elected mayor Tuesday night in the general election. Freelon made his way around the candidate watch parties, including Ali’s, which also included the slate of Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People-endorsed candidates.

At that event, Freelon told The Herald-Sun he was “seriously considering” applying for Schewel’s at-large council seat. There are two years left on that term. Freelon, who also came to the People’s Alliance PAC election night party, said he developed relationships with everyone running for office this fall.

“I know what it is to run a campaign and it’s hard work. It’s a really big sacrifice,” Freelon said.

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After Schewel and the new council members are sworn in on Dec. 4 they will start the process of appointing someone to fill Schewel’s old seat. But first, those interested will have to submit applications for the appointment, which won’t be solicited until after the new council takes office next month.

Pierce Freelon chats with Durham Mayor Bill Bell on election night, Nov. 7, 2017. Freelon wants the new city council to appoint him to mayor-elect Steve Schewel's old seat.
Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan dvaughan@heraldsun.com

Ali has said that he will not seek to the appointment.

While the open council seat will be filled by the new City Council, Freelon is already asking his supporters to contact council members and ask them to appoint him. Those City Council members include holdovers Jillian Johnson and Charlie Reece and newcomers DeDreana Freeman, Mark-Anthony Middleton and Vernetta Alston, who each won seats Tuesday.

Schewel said the application process for his council seat won’t start until after the new council is sworn in at the Dec. 4 City Council meeting.

It’s a tremendous amount of work. It’s gotta be somebody wise.

Steve Schewel, on appointee to the Durham City Council seat he’ll vacate when he becomes mayor

The last time the City Council appointed a replacement member was in 2013 when current Councilman Don Moffitt, who didn’t make it through this year’s primary vote, was named to replace Mike Woodard, who’d just been elected to the state senate. Woodard is still involved in Durham politics, attending Schewel’s election night watch party at Pompieri Pizza Tuesday and the People’s Alliance PAC party at 106 Main. Freelon went to the People’s Alliance party, too.

Schewel has noted in the past the absence of Latinos on the council.

“What I hope is we will get some Latino applicants, as we haven’t had a Latino office-holder,” Schewel said, adding that Durham has a 15 percent Latino population. “But I’m not promising I’ll vote for any particular person.”

Schewel said that council’s appointee doesn’t necessarily need to be someone with a lot of experience, but rather someone who is able to do the work.

“It’s a tremendous amount of work. It’s gotta be somebody wise,” he said.

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