In the general election, several Durham races are unopposed, including register of deeds, for which Willie Covington is running; district attorney, for which Tracey Cline has no opponent; and district court judge, in which the only contender is incumbent William Marsh. The Durham Commissioners' race was essentially decided in the spring; five people are seeking five seats this fall. We published our endorsement in favor of the prepared food tax in the Oct. 15 Indy.
An important job with an unsexy title, Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisors are charged with protecting farmland and open space and finding crucial funding and incentives to preserve natural resources.
We strongly endorse Durham native and small dairy farmer Kathryn Spann, who currently serves as associate supervisor to the five-member board, a volunteer, non-voting position. She has been the board's representative to the Farmland Protection Board since January.
Her grasp of environmental issues is vast, as is her understanding of the complex funding—cost-shares, conservation easements and budgets. Spann is converting her family's former 90-acre tobacco farm to livestock—and thus can best understand the threats and opportunities to her fellow small farmers.
Spann also is rightfully concerned about our drinking water supply and the effect of development on that finite and vital natural resource: "Rapid development is swallowing up Durham's farming and open space," she wrote in her Indy questionnaire. "These same areas serve as the watershed for our drinking water reservoirs. Development of these areas threatens water quality."
Spann has spent some time in the city, too, working as a lawyer, a principal court attorney for the state of New York, and a volunteer fighting to protect sensitive urban eco-systems in Yonkers, N.Y.
Danielle Adams, a full-time N.C. Central University student, is committed to protecting the environment, particularly in regard to preserving wetlands. However, she lacks experience and seems to lean on the legacy of her mother, Stella Adams, the district supervisor from 1988-2000.
Ryan O'Neal Echoles, who has run for several offices, did not return our questionnaire.