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Cracked and Packed 

Last week, we posed the question of whether Durham's method of electing ward representatives citywide needs to be reevaluated.

Commenter Durham451 doesn't think so: "There's a reason the N.C. General Assembly has left Durham alone while it interfered in local elections in other cities. From Wake to Guilford to Buncombe counties, the NCGA has cracked and packed Democratic voters by gerrymandering local voting districts in an attempt to influence local elections for county commission, city council, and even school board. Enacting ward-only voting in Durham would be an invitation for the NCGA to step in and draw those wards, cracking and packing Durham Democrats in an attempt to open the door for the likes of pro-Trump Republicans like John Best to return to the city council. If you want an anything-goes, pro-development, anti-environment Durham City Council, then a ward system is the way to go. If not, let's leave our current system alone and keep pushing Durham forward."

Frank Hyman, meanwhile, is perturbed by the Durham People's Alliance's decision to endorse John Rooks Jr. over Mark-Anthony Middleton in the Ward 2 race.

"The PA meeting was packed by supporters of Rooks," he writes. "Without that, the organization would have endorsed Middleton, who has won victories for working people by collaborating with PA and Durham CAN for years. This campaign is in danger of becoming a referendum on who claims to care the most. But progressives should support the candidates who can do the most for working families."

Counters Steven Materly: "It is my understanding that there were a total of eight MacDougald Terrace residents who came to that PA endorsement meeting. They had the red badges, which meant they could speak but not vote, and that is exactly what they did. They convinced people to back Rooks and not Pastor Middleton by the power of their arguments. I think Mr. Hyman is just ticked off because these poor black women were able to work the system to their advantage."

This is a good time to remind you that the INDY's endorsements in the Durham City Council races—as well as for elections in Raleigh, Cary, Chapel Hill, Hillsborough, and for Carrboro-Chapel Hill City Schools—will be released in next week's issue.

Moving on. Andrew Magowan takes issue with our recent story on The Lakeside.

"It was great to read the Mendoza and Appolonia families' perspective on one aspect of the development that is coming to their neighborhood," he writes. "The unfiltered voices and opinions of lower-income people are seldom heard anywhere in the American media, including in the INDY.

"My problem with the article is that it needlessly spotlighted one single business and one single business owner, putting The Lakewood and its owner Phoebe Lawless in the hot seat for the crime of gentrification. Ms. Lawless is a super-talented chef who cares about the community, supports family farms by buying locally grown food, and provides a nice service to Durham in the form of delicious and well-made food. Do she and her new business deserve to be raked over the coals (so to speak) because the food she wishes to serve is more expensive than the Mexican restaurant a few blocks away?

"Could Ms. Bouloubasis not have spoken to even one more person in Ms. Lawless's position? Any restaurateur who has opened a restaurant in Durham in the past ten years would have fit the bill. We all have played our part in gentrification. Even in the Lakewood neighborhood she focuses on, she made apparently no effort to speak with other people who have opened or are planning to open businesses there. Cocoa Cinnamon opened a few weeks ago and has made great efforts at inclusivity and affordability. What about the folks who are opening the Food Hall in the Lakewood Shopping Center? Or just up the street, the Durham Co-Op, which is also too expensive for many of the neighborhood's residents?

"This strikes me as a failure on the part of the INDY's editors."

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