Unofficial returns in Tuesday’s city election showed that retired educator Eddie Davis would succeed retiring Ward 2 City Councilman Howard Clement, while Ward 3 incumbent Don Moffitt had held on to his seat.
Meanwhile, voters gave incumbent Mayor Bill Bell a landslide victory in his quest for a seventh consecutive two-year term and Mayor Pro Tem Cora Cole-McFadden won an uncontested re-election to her Ward 1 council seat.
With only provisional ballots left to be counted, Davis held a 65.1 percent to 34.7 lead over bail bondsman Omar Beasley, while Moffitt led led former County Commissioner Pam Karriker 56.6 percent to 43.2 percent.
Bell repeated his 2011 win over minister and financial consultant Sylvester Williams, but by an even larger margin. Two years ago, Bell took 82 percent of the vote to Williams’s 18 percent; on Tuesday, the score was 86.5 to 13.1.
Write-in votes made up the percentage differences in all four races. Tuesday’s election brought a 10.5 percent voter turnout, up from the 6.1 percent who voted in the October primary.
No particular issues stood out in the campaigns, but with Davis’s and Moffit’s wins the election appeared to be an affirmation of strength for the People’s Alliance, the self-described "progressive" member of Durham’s three major political organizations.
Davis and Moffitt won the PA’s endorsements, while Beasley and Karriker were backed by the business-oriented Friends of Durham and the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People. All three PACs endorsed Bell over Williams.
Moffitt’s and Davis’s campaign committees led the municipal election field in donations and spending, according to finance reports filed last week. Moffitt’s committee raised $24,715.41 and spent $17,316.34, while Davis’s raised $13,416.38 and spent $10,718.19.
Karriker’s committee reported $6,560.19 raised and $5,161.03 spent; Beasley’s took in $4,186.70 and $4,947.67 spent. However, the N.C. Homeowners Alliance, a political committee affiliated with the N.C. Association of Realtors, spent $47,900 on its own for campaign mailers backing Beasley and Karriker.
All four council candidates were seeking their first electoral victories. Moffitt was appointed to the City Council in January, to serve out the term of former Councilman Mike Woodard after Woodard won election to the state Senate. Karriker was appointed to the Board of County Commissioners in 2011, to serve out the term of retired Commissioner Becky Heron, and did not seek election when the term expired.
Davis lost a race to be state Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2008, while Beasley ran unsuccessfully for the county board in 2012.