Durham primary election results show close race for City Council and mayor

Photo Credit: ABC 11


The municipal primary election results are in. Only a month away from Election Day, Durham held primary elections on Oct. 10 to determine the candidates for mayor and City Council in the 2023 general election. 

Every precinct in Durham voted in the primary elections. Out of the over 200,000 residents in Durham, 23,684 Durham residents voted. This was around 12 percent of the Durham population and a larger turnout than the 2021 primaries by around 3,000 people. 

Mayoral race 

There were eight candidates running for mayor. Leonardo Williams and Mike Woodard came out as the front-runners in this race. Wiliams holds 52 percent of the vote while Woodard holds 30 percent. Williams and Woodard will oppose each other for mayor in the general election. 

Williams is a current Durham City Council member with a term that expires in 2025. He is a former educator and is now the owner of Zweli’s Kitchen along with his wife Zweli Williams.

Woodard served on the Durham City Council from 2005-2013 and was elected to the State Senate in 2012. He and his wife Rev. Sarah Woodard are active members in the Durham community.  

DeDreana Freeman follows closely behind polling at 12.86 percent, putting her in third place. According to Indy Week, Freeman allegedly punched other council members after a meeting in March. Freeman will continue to serve on the City Council until her term expires in 2025.

Marshall Williams, Jr., Sylvester Williams, C. Burruss, Nick Pettiford and Jontae Dunston each received less than two percent of the vote and are now out of the running for mayor. 

City Council race

There were 12 candidates running for 3 open City Council spots. The top six recipients of the vote in order of votes received are Nate Baker, Javiera Caballero, Carl Rist, Khalilah Karim, Shelia Ann Huggins and Monique Holsey-Hyman. They will oppose each other for the three City Council spots in the general election. 

Baker, Caballero, and Rist were in the top three with over 17 percent of the vote each. The bottom three included Karim, Huggins and Holsey-Hyman with under 10 percent of the vote each. The two incumbents are Caballero and Holsey-Hyman. 

Caballero was appointed to the City Council in 2018 and elected in 2019. She was also the council’s first Latina member. 

Halsey-Hyman was appointed to the City Council in 2022. She was also recently the focus of an SBI investigation into her bribery and extortion for campaign finances. The investigation was dropped on Sept. 19 after no credibility for the allegations was found.

Sherri Zann Rosenthal, Shanetta Burris, Bonita Green, Renee J. Vaughan, J. J. Campbell and Waldo Fenner each received less than five percent of the vote and are now out of the running for City Council. 

Durham residents can vote in the general election on Nov. 7, 2023, by attending their local precinct with a valid Photo ID. Voters can find more information on dates and registration at the Durham County Board of Elections website.

Edited by Allie Schreiber and Kristen Snyder

Emma Hall is a senior Media and Journalism major at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is also a writer for the City & State desk at the Daily Tar Heel.


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