Carl Rist recently achieved a monumental milestone in his campaign. The city council-member- hopeful was one of six candidates to receive enough votes to secure a spot on the city of Durham, N.C.’s general election ballot. Instead of celebrating, he plans on immediately preparing for the upcoming electoral event.
“I’m focused on the next steps,” he said. “We can’t rest on our laurels.”
With the general election set to occur on Nov. 7, Rist will need to obtain more votes than three of his competitors in order to receive a spot on the council.
Rist believes that his long track record of 30 plus years of work in Durham will only solidify his legitimacy as a capable leader, having worked with such organizations as the Durham People’s Alliance and the Durham Living Wage Project.
He understands that he must continue to illustrate his willingness to put the community first in order to secure his spot, however.
“It’s important to be in the public,” he said in an effort to explain the importance of working directly with city residents.
For the longtime-Durhamite, community work has always been important. A strong relationship with his mother was Rist’s earliest introduction to service.
“She was my first mentor,” he said. “I remember her taking us to rallies, and it was the first time I began to understand the issues that communities faced.”
Attending political and community events with his mother only stoked a growing fire for activism, as Rist soon grew to love being a community helper.
After college, an extended stint working for Habitat for Humanity put him in direct contact with those most in-need. For the city council candidate, it was a reality check.
“I saw that the scale of the affordable housing challenge was enormous,” he said.
With the affordable housing crisis being an enormous issue in Durham, Rist seeks to upend the disparity between higher and lower-income families that has only fueled it.
“Even though we have a great economy,” he said, “we still have one in seven in poverty and half of our renters are cost-burden.”
To tackle the epidemic, Rist offers several solutions.
One of his proposed ideas includes “investing in more down-payment assistance for first-time, low-income homeowners,” he said in one of his position papers.
Rist also supports some of the solutions offered by SCAD, short for “Simplifying Codes for Development.” A proposed amendment to Durham’s unified development ordinance, it would determine what can be built and where in the city, said an INDY week article.
“We need more tools rather than less,” he said in an effort to explain his alignment with SCAD proposals.
While affordable housing is a huge issue facing the Durham community, it’s not Rist’s only concern.
As a council member, Rist hopes to target poverty at its foundation by investing in wealth-building, giving households the opportunity to build assets like homes and higher education.
“Everyone in Durham should have the opportunity to thrive as a worker or entrepreneur and benefit from our dynamic, growing economy,” he said in one of his position papers.
The city council candidate also believes in the connection between environmental health and the growing wage gap.
“Lower income families tend to be impacted more so by the environment,” he said. “There is a link between climate and financial security.”
With a seat on the council, Rist promises to tackle the crisis head-on by updating the climate action plan, he said.
“Climate resilience is an important factor for Durham’s continued well-being,” he said.
Rist plans to reaffirm his dedication to the community by continuing to place himself directly on the front lines by actively engaging with Durhamites in the coming weeks.
“There’s still much work to be done,” he said.
Should he receive a spot on the council, Rist insists he will make good on his promises to Durhamites, citing the multiple endorsements he has received that speak to his character.
“A number of current and former elected officials have endorsed me because they support the policy positions I stand for,” he said. “I’m the most endorsed candidate in the race.”
Whether or not his endorsements and policies make a difference in the election’s outcome remains to be seen. Ultimately, it will be up to Durhamites to decide the outcome on Nov. 7.
Edited by Emmy Trivette
Edited by Ryan Christiano
Edited by Lauren Baddour