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Bull City Politics: Former councilman and mayoral candidate Farad Ali leaving for NYC

Farad Ali is CEO of The Institute, previously The Institute of Minority Economic Development, which now owns the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance building in downtown Durham, NC. He has faith in Durham’s ability to close the minority wealth gap so the city’s citizens can reach a “shared prosperity.”
Farad Ali is CEO of The Institute, previously The Institute of Minority Economic Development, which now owns the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance building in downtown Durham, NC. He has faith in Durham’s ability to close the minority wealth gap so the city’s citizens can reach a “shared prosperity.” jwall@newsobserver.com

Former mayoral candidate and Durham City Council member Farad Ali, chairman of the Raleigh-Durham International Airport Authority, is heading to New York City.

Ali, who was born in New York, is taking a job at the National Minority Supplier Development Council. He has been CEO and president of the nonprofit Institute, formerly the Institute for Minority Economic Development, in downtown Durham. He will become vice president of the National Minority Supplier Development Council, a corporate membership organization that matches its 12,000 certified minority-owned businesses to its membership network who want to buy from them.

Ali served one term on the Durham City Council and ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2017. He made it through the primary but lost to Mayor Steve Schewel in the general election. Ali also serves on boards including the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, the Latino Community Credit Union, Airport Minority Advisory Council National Association, Center for Community Self-Help, Triangle Community Foundation and the Triangle YMCA.

The Institute is one of few African American-owned commercial properties downtown. It is on Parrish Street, historic Black Wall Street, in the original NC Mutual Life Insurance building. Ali and The Institute completed a report this fall surveying minority-owned businesses in downtown Durham for Downtown Durham Inc. The report was presented to DDI members and posted online, but has not yet been presented to the City Council.

Ali said in a recent interview that he ran for mayor last year because “there is no government economic development on black Durham.”

Farad Ali, president of The Institute, previously The Institute of Minority Economic Development, believes minorities in Durham have the potential to overcome a wealth gap to achieve "shared prosperity" if the city has a shared vision of the future.

Ali says every public policy decision should ask “Where’s the economic justice in this? How are we increasing their wealth? Or decreasing their wealth?”

Ali moved to Durham from Brooklyn as a kid for his dad’s job at IBM, which is in Research Triangle Park.

Lew Myers, board chair of The Institute, will serve as interim CEO while a national search is conducted. Myers retired from the Freelon Group, now Perkins + Will.

Other Durham leaders leaving

Ali isn’t the only downtown Durham player on the move this month.

Matt Gladdek, Downtown Durham Inc.’s director of policy and planning, is leaving to take a job next door in Chapel Hill. Gladdek will become director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership.

And the city’s director of transportation, Terry Bellamy, is leaving for a job leading transportation and public works in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

N.C. GOP general counsel dies

Tom Stark, general counsel and parliamentarian for the North Carolina Republican Party, died on Dec. 17.

“This comes as an utter shock to the Durham GOP family, who has relied on his for legal counsel for over six years,” said Immanuel Jarvis, chair of the Durham Republican Party, in a statement.

“Words cannot express the shock and loss we are experiencing of a devoted citizen to Durham and a proud member of the Durham Republican Party,” Jarvis said. “We will forever miss his legal guidance and political acumen.”

Stark was a previous Durham GOP chairman and parliamentarian as well as general counsel for the North Carolina Republican Party. He also ran unsuccessfully for the N.C. Senate District 20 seat in 2017.

The North Carolina Republican Party said Tuesday that Stark died on Monday of a heart attack.

“Tom was a dear friend, mentor, and counselor to us all,” said N.C. Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes in a statement. “We ask that everyone please keep his wife Roxanne and his children in your thoughts and prayers this holiday season.”

Bull City Politics is an occasional column by Durham government reporter Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan that takes you inside City Hall. She live tweets meetings. Follow her on Twitter at @dawnbvaughan and #BullCitypol.

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