No big surprises on the first day of filing for Durham municipal elections.
Incumbent Mayor Bill Bell was the first person to file for office today at the Durham County Board of Elections office, vying for his sixth term. Bell was first elected in 2001 and prior to that, served on the Durham County Board of Commissioners for 16 years.
Bell is a retired IBM engineer and is currently an executive at UDI Community Development Corporation here in Durham. In 2009, political newcomer Steven Williams ran against Bell, but Bell swept up more than 77 percent of the votes. Bell faced perhaps his biggest challenge for the seat in 2007, when he battled against former Republican City Councilman Thomas Stith. Bell won 58 percent of the votes in that race, while Stith won 42 percent.
Former Durham Public Schools board member Steve Schewel, who is also the founder and majority owner of the Independent Weekly, also filed today for one of the three at-large seats available this fall on the Durham City Council. Schewel is a visiting assistant professor of public policy at Duke University, where he also earned his bachelor's and doctorate degrees. He served on Durham's school board from 2004 to 2008, serving as vice chairman for part of his term.
Both Bell and Schewel announced their intentions to run earlier this year. Incumbent council members Eugene Brown and Diane Catotti also announced their intentions to run for the two other at-large spots on the council, but did not file Monday. Councilman Farad Ali has said he will not be seeking another term in his current seat.
Stay tuned as the names trickle in, both here and on the Board of Elections website.