by Mazin Elnagheeb, Oct. 2 2023
J.J. Campbell at Sandy Creek Park on October 1, 2023 (Photo by Mazin Elnagheeb)
J.J. Campbell, a man with an eclectic background including dolphin training, experience with nonprofits, and geophysics, is running for Durham City Council with a people-centric platform.
Campbell said his eclectic background will aid him in implementing his goals and give him an advantage over his running mates. One example he cites is his world travels.
“The fact that I have lived in Spain, and that I’ve lived in Israel, and that I’ve lived in Ghana, and that I’ve lived in the Middle East out in the U.A.E. means that I can bring the experiences of these different communities, both their good and their bad, and I know ways that we can try to emulate places,” Campbell said.
Campbell said he has lived in Durham for about a year now, moving here in part due to the beautiful nature in the city. He said he felt motivated to run for government due to his dissatisfaction with how America is controlled.
“We are controlled too much by the oligarchy,” Campbell said. “We are controlled too much by corporations, or I like to say that we’re a corporatocracy now, and we need to fight back against that.”
Campbell said that the center of his platform is giving power to the people in Durham, even above his own political desires.
“If there is a philosophical conflict on it [a policy]… I would leave my ego behind, and I would go with what the people want me to do,” Campbell said. “Now, I would still use my bully pulpit to try to convince them to let me vote the way I want to vote.”
Campbell said one way in which he would want to get people more involved in political processes is through a website where registered, and perhaps unregistered, voters can cast ballots on every policy that comes across his desk.
“My current plan is something similar to Reddit, where it would be an easy vote up or down, and everybody would be able to see where the numbers are at,” Campbell said.
He said the concept is still in early development.
Campbell said he also wants to implement Ranked Choice Voting, which he feels will re-enfranchise disaffected voters. He said in this model, voters would rank candidates in order of preference, and the person with the least number of votes gets knocked off. Thus, if your first choice gets knocked off, then your vote will go towards your second choice.
“This eliminates that constant soundbite that we hear about voting for the lesser of two evils,” Campbell said.
Campbell said he wishes to address issues of equity in Durham, especially economically. One way is through what he calls a Perpetual Development Fund.
“What this would be is hopefully a community fund, where it would be enough to develop a property,” Campbell said. “So if grandma who has been living here for 50 years, for whatever reason, either wants out or wants to improve her property, she can then go to this fund and develop her property.”
He said that after the property is developed, the units are sold, and the fund is paid back, the units then go to someone else who lives in that district. He said he wants to focus on redlined areas in particular.
Campbell said he hopes through these measures he can make Durham a model government.
“I would love for Durham to be the model for the world and the model for government funding and the model for democracy,” Campbell said.
About the Author: Mazin Elnagheeb is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in Media and Journalism
Edited by Siya Zhang