Candidates endorsed by DCABP move forward in the Durham primary elections 

Contributed by Cassandra Stokes.

After a tumultuous year for the Durham City Council, the Political Action Committee for the Durham Committee for the Affairs of Black People, or DCABP, sought to endorse candidates that they believed would take a holistic approach to the city’s growth.

Cassandra Stokes, the political action committee chair for the DCABP, said they chose candidates who would be knowledgeable on issues impacting Black and brown communities, as well as candidates who would be able to set aside their differences on the council to work together.

“I think that’s what we’re looking for moving forward, we want to make sure we have a united council and not a divided one,” she said.

For this major Durham PAC, those candidates were Leonardo Williams for mayor and Nate Baker, Sheila Huggins and Monique Holsey-Hyman for city council.

All four of the DCABP’s endorsed candidates made it through last Tuesday’s primary elections.

The DCABP endorsed Baker due to his background in urban planning. Baker serves on the Durham City Council’s Planning Commission, and Stokes said that the PAC believes that he will be able to provide solutions for affordable housing for the city.

Huggins has expertise in municipal budgeting, and Stokes said that she could aid the council when looking at where to allocate funds for the city.

The PAC endorsed Holsey-Hyman because of her experience as a social worker and her involvement with the HEART program, which provides Durham residents who are dealing with mental health crises or quality of life concerns with relevant care that matches their needs, according to City of Durham website.

Williams has experience as a small business owner, and Stokes said that the PAC endorsed him due to his passion for accelerating small business and Black-owned businesses in the city.

“I just hope that individuals see that we’ve also endorsed candidates who have relationships in this community, and have been known for the work that they’ve done,” Stokes said.

The PAC’s endorsements are based on an application process where candidates submit answers to a questionnaire. Following their application, the political committee interviews candidates, presenting their recommendations to the general body members, who in turn cast anonymous votes for who to endorse.

The DCABP was formed in 1935 as a civic organization for Black Durham residents, and in 1939 shifted its emphasis to registering Black voters and supporting candidates who would benefit Black residents in the city, according to their website.

“The DCABP is the beholder of Black history on multiple fronts,” Williams wrote in his questionnaire. “From the initiation of the Durham professional business chain (economic development) to hosting civil rights leaders (establishing the Black agenda), our ‘Committee’ must be preserved, protected, and pronounced as the leading voice on Black issues.”

Omar Beasley, a former chair of the DCABP, said that once candidates are elected, the committee works to hold those in office accountable.

No matter the candidates in office, inequities and disparities will continue to exist, Beasley said, and the committee seeks out candidates who will support their values.

Beasley had a saying as the chairperson, “when the Black community is doing well, the entire community is doing well.”

This support extends to the candidates the PAC endorses. As a strong, well-known Black PAC, the DCABP works to support and endorse Black candidates in particular, Stokes said.

“We’re really intentional about our candidates and having just a holistic approach to a new city council,” she said.

On Nov. 7, voters will cast ballots for either Williams or Mike Woodard, a candidate endorsed by the Friends of Durham PAC, for mayor.

Baker, Holsey-Hyman and Huggins will be up for three seats on the town council against candidates Javiera Caballero, Carl Rist and Khalilah Karim.

Edited by Ben McCormick and Sierra Pfeifer