Durham City Council candidate Sheila Huggins ends campaign, cites voter turnout


Caroline Daly

November 2, 2023

On Wednesday, Oct. 18, Huggins held a press conference where she announced that she and her team made the decision to suspend her campaign for an at-large seat on the Durham City Council.

Following the primary election on Oct. 10, Shelia Huggins was among the top six choices for Durham City Council seats, garnering 9.7% of votes. Javiera Cabellero, Carl Rist, Khalilah Karim and Monique Holsey-Hyman were the other candidates who joined her in the top six.

Huggins said she was looking forward to working with the other members on the council as each person who was chosen brings a unique skill set to the council.

“I think it’s up to the residents to build their dream team and be able to take each candidate and understand how that candidate may be bringing something to the council that they feel is important,” Huggins said.

Huggins and her team came to this decision after seeing the low voter engagement and turnout, along with a review of historical trends, and the returns for the Oct. 10 primary.

“We also took into account the desire to be mindful of and practical about the resources that would be required for the general election,” Huggins said. “From me, my family, my team, and my supporters.”

Regarding low voter turnout, Huggins said she thinks over 175,000 people did not cast a ballot in the primary.

“They didn’t participate in a process that impacts the water they drink, the first responder services that are provided to them, and the parks and recreation facilities that some of them choose to use, for example,” Huggins said.

This isn’t the first year Durham local elections have seen low voter turnout. In 2021, only 10% of registered voters in Durham County cast a ballot in the primary elections, according to the Duke Chronicle. This year, ABC11 reported only 11% of Durham voters cast a ballot.

For the rest of Huggins’ campaign, she said she will be prioritizing voter engagement. She will be sharing more information on her social media channels and creating more original content designed to educate local voters and increase voter turnout for future elections.

Huggins said, “Our residents aren’t necessarily disconnected from city services,” Huggins said. “But they are disconnected from the political process that determines how these services are allocated and who has a say in allocating them.”

She says doesn’t know what is next for her beyond this election, however, she will continue to be involved in the Durham community and try to better the lives of Durham residents.

“Part of being a leader is stepping into roles that don’t always match the role that you thought you would be in,” Huggins said. “Instead, it matches the role that people need you to be in at that moment in time. This is the role that I need to be in right now.”

The general election will be held on Nov. 7, now with five candidates competing for a Durham City Council seat.

Edited by Ben McCormick, Sierra Pfeifer and Allie Schreiber

Caroline Daly is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in Media and Journalism with the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, focused on sports broadcasting.


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