Name as appears on ballot: Eddie Davis
Full legal name: Eddie Davis, III
Date of birth: May 8, 1949
Campaign website: eddiedavis4durham.com
Facebook: Eddie Davis – Durham City Council
1. Describe your past leadership roles, both in career and community. How will these experiences help you serve on Council? Please be specific about how these roles correspond to a city council member's responsibilities.
Throughout my adult life, I have been actively involved in civic and political issues on the local, state, and national levels. I worked as a public school educator in North Carolina for almost four decades. During the 1980s, I guided a group of HHS students through a process that led to North Carolina's retroactive ratification of the 24th Amendment of the United States Constitution. I was appointed by Gov. Jim Hunt to an 8-year term on the State Board of Education in 1993. During the transition from the 1990s to the 2000s, I was elected to the 9-member executive committee of the National Education Association (NEA) and I served as the statewide president of the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE). Since my 2008 retirement from teaching, I have served on the Durham County Board of Elections and the Durham Appearance Commission. I have made several Durham Library presentations on local historical events. My service with each of these organizations has enhanced my toolkit of budgetary, managerial, political, presentational, and interpersonal skills. Perhaps most importantly, my past experiences have helped me to value the importance of listening to ... and learning from ... the citizens that I represent.
2. How do you define yourself politically? How have you demonstrated this political philosophy in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
I am a proud progressive. However, I also possess strong principles when it comes to fiscal management and responsible spending of taxpayers' dollars. I have consistently stood tall on equity and on issues of human and civil rights. I marched "shoulder-to-shoulder" and took a strong leadership role within the teachers association and the broader state community during the unsuccessful 1970s quest for North Carolina's ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. I helped to organize Durham's 1984 Women's History Month celebration, including a concert by Elizabeth Cotton and Sweet Honey in the Rock. I also chaired Durham's Art Against Apartheid exhibit in 1985. I helped to convince the State Historic Commission to increase the presence of women and minorities at the state capitol building. From my earliest days in Durham, I supported the efforts of Joan Preiss and the Triangle Friends of United Farm Workers. During my campaign for city council, I am advocating for much more community attention and dialogue on the crucial issue of the homicides within the inner city of Durham.
3. List the three most important issues facing Durham, in order of priority. If elected, how will you address these issues? Please be specific.
Public Safety - I am highly concerned about the root causes that lead to the senseless homicides that occur in Durham and in many other cities in America. Even though there has been some discussion and there are isolated groups that are working on solutions, I am disappointed that a more coordinated and diversified city-wide effort has not been formed to challenge the loss of human potential in Durham. As a city council member, I will use my office to sponsor a series of community-based dialogues around this issue. In addition, I will form a group called P.O.W.E.R.F.U.L. (Parents Operating With Educational Responsibility For Understanding and Learning). This group would convene small clusters of parents (and their supporters) who will navigate the growth and development of the youth in various segments of Durham. I also want to hold the Durham Police Department accountable for the protection of ... and the respect for ... all segments of the community.
Water - Most people do not recognize the local, national, and international threat that citizens face concerning one of our most precious commodities. I want to be an advocate for the safety, the quality, the quantity, and the cost of Durham's water supply. This issue cuts across the economic and racial barriers that too often divide Durham. The Water Institute at the University of North Carolina and the Nicholas Institute at Duke are and will be valuable resources that will guide my advocacy in this area. In addition, water quality will be one of the first questions asked in my personal litmus test surrounding the administration of Durham's Comprehensive Plan and the other issues of land zoning and land development.
Jobs and Economic Development - The recruitment of good jobs and the readiness of our citizens for those jobs are among my major concerns. I want to see a continued growth of jobs and development in the downtown, the southern, and the northern portions of Durham. However, I also want to see similar growth and job opportunities in the Fayetteville Street Corridor, Northeast Central Durham, East Durham, and The West End. One of the areas of my city council advocacy will center on business incubators that can spring up in these underserved communities. In addition, I will work with the Durham Public Schools, the Durham Parks and Recreation Department, and youth committees to hold career fairs in the early middle school years. I want students to see a variety of people from all racial groups performing jobs that the students may not have even considered. These career fairs can give the future generation a glimpse of the jobs and the role models that will allow them to aspire to greatness. In addition, these job fairs can give the students the incentive to work hard and to have a much more focused path as they march toward college and/or the world of work.
4. Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
As stated earlier in this questionnaire, I have always stood tall for issues of human and civil rights. Some of the most important issues of equity on the current landscape are marriage equality, second parent adoptions, and other LGBTQ rights. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the 2012 approval of Amendment One, there are citizens who do not share my views of equity in this area. Even though President Barack Obama, Rev. William Barber, and the U.S. Supreme Court have moved us closer to the goal of freedom to love and marry the person of your choice, there are still too many citizens whose support for me might vanish because of my principled stand on these issues. Even so, I will continue to stand tall for these and other freedoms. I also expect to be criticized when I ask the Durham City Council to require city vendors and city contractors to have explicit policies that will declare their opposition to discrimination based on sexual orientation.
5. The city's updated panhandling ordinance has been criticized for being too stringent. If you were to revisit the ordinance, how would you balance public safety with the needs of the homeless? As a follow up question, Durham is seven years into its 10-year plan to end homelessness. What are the pros and cons of the plan? What are the greatest obstacles to ending homelessness and how should the city overcome them?
Thankfully, it appears that the city council, the appropriate advisory committees, and staffers have reached an apparent compromise that will allow citizens to solicit offerings at safe locations along traffic intersections. I am pleased that meaningful and respectful dialogue helped this compromise to be reached. I also like the "sunset provisions" that have been put in place, therefore, allowing time for a re-visitation of the proposed compromise within a limited time period. Durham's overall plan to end homelessness is a noble undertaking. However, I am fearful that the reliance on stimulus funding might make it difficult to meet the stated goals of the plan. I am pleased that nine of the housing providers in the Durham Continuum of Care plan received federal funds recently. I believe that religious groups, veterans' providers, substance abuse organizations, and others must coordinate their services in a more constructive manner if Durham ultimately will overcome the root causes of homelessness.
6. Neighborhood Improvement Services has embarked on the PRIP, the Proactive Rental Inspection Program. Assess the progress of PRIP. Also, do you think PRIP can adequately address the quality of rental housing in Durham?
My early assessment of PRIP is that the program works well for those landlords who are civic-minded and willing to help renters live in housing that conforms to the standards of the program. However, as with many voluntary programs, the landlords who need the most encouragement are not likely to be persuaded to adhere to those standards. I am very interested in much more dialogue and much more study before I can offer a qualified suggestion for improvement.
7. Durham's strategic plan calls for a well-focused annexation policy. In your opinion, what should Durham's annexation policy look like? What areas and developments could be annexed and why?
The Durham (via Raleigh) 751 South annexation process has left an extremely bad taste in my mouth. I do not like the fact that the General Assembly and the Governor have imposed their will on the citizens of Durham, even though the "elected" Durham City Council had voted to oppose the project. I believe that the plans and the ordinances that have been developed by the city and the county have been useful and productive for Durham. I think that annexation issues should always be mindful on environmental, as well as growth issues. Water, air, jobs, and development are all factors that should be weighed in every single discussion about annexation.
8. In 2011, Durham voters approved a half-cent sales tax increase for public transit. Assess the success of the transit improvements. What should the next priorities be?
I supported the transit increase and I look forward to the continued planning and future implementation of the light rail system that will serve Orange, Durham and Wake counties. I have been pleased to see the increased involvement of the Triangle Transit Authority in the DATA bus operation. I have attended a couple of sessions that allowed input from the bus ridership. As we move closer to light rail, we must ensure that diversity exists in the growth and development of the commercial and residential hubs that will spring up along the stops of the rail system.
9. Over the last two-months, Durham's violent crime rate has increased nearly 8%. In July, there was a controversial incident in which a DPD officer shot and killed a man who was allegedly brandishing a knife. However, witness and police accounts of the incident are in dispute. Assess the level of professionalism and proficiency of DPD and recommended ways it can improve.
As I mentioned in the discussion of campaign priorities, I want Durham to conduct a multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-economic set of dialogues to deal with the loss of human potential through the senseless homicides and violent crime that we are experiencing. In addition, we must be able to hold fair and impartial investigations surrounding any single incident ... or any single allegation ... of police misconduct. In fact, I believe that there should be a true civilian review board that has the ability to conduct such investigations. The recent issues involving the Durham Police Department and its leadership should have an open and honest appraisal by the administration and by the city council.