Durham Mayor Steve Schewel Lays Out 2018 Vision in First State of the City Address | News
News
INDY Week's news blog

Archives | RSS

Monday, February 5, 2018

Durham Mayor Steve Schewel Lays Out 2018 Vision in First State of the City Address

Posted by on Mon, Feb 5, 2018 at 11:49 PM

In his first State of the City address, Durham Mayor Steve Schewel described big investments into affordable housing, announced new initiatives aimed at addressing food insecurity, food waste and racial equity, named a former city councilman Durham's first public historian, and revealed the "most fun thing" about his new job as mayor: Taking lots of selfies with constituents.

Schewel's address reiterated the "common vision" of Durham as a welcoming city and progressive beacon that he laid out in his first comments after being sworn in as mayor in December. He cautioned that Durham will not "reach out true greatness" with current state and federal policies counterproductive to providing living wages, affordable housing, health care, quality public education, and protection from deportation.

"We have to stare that reality in the face," he said. "But OK, that’s enough of that. Once we have stared that reality in the face, we have to put it aside and get to work here at home."

click to enlarge schewel_new_photo_2_2015.jpg
Schewel began by highlighting some work that's already being done. He recognized city employees who have gone "above and beyond" in the past year, detailed investments in affordable housing and touted plans for "the biggest infrastructure project in the history of North Carolina": Durham-Orange Light Rail (although that project faces some federal funding unknowns). He thanked Police Chief C.J. Davis for implementing "reforms that are aimed to build trust in the community, and especially in communities of color" and honored individual officers.

Schewel looked ahead to the city's sesquicentennial — which on April 10, 2019, will mark one hundred and fifty years since Durham's incorporation. For the next year, former councilman and educator Eddie Davis will serve as the city's first public historian. "No one is better suited for this honor," Schewel said. Davis said he plans to use his post to highlight some "unsung heroes" and "under the radar" events in Durham's history.

"So what, tonight, is the State of Our City?" Schewel said. "We are a welcoming city, a diverse city, and a prosperous city determined that our prosperity will be shared. We know that 20 percent of our residents, mostly people of color, do not share in our prosperity, and we are committed to change that."

Durham's tree canopy is diminishing, he said, and what exists is "inequitably distributed," leaving historically black neighborhoods red-lined and denied loans in the 1930s without adequate tree cover today. "Durham needs to plant 60,000 trees in the next 20 years, and I am calling on our residents tonight to help us do that."

Schewel announced the formation of a race equity task force, to be chaired by Mayor Pro Tem Jillian Johnson, and heralded the formation of a joint-city county committee that will look at what to do with Durham's dismantled Confederate monument and begin a discussion of what people, places, and events should be memorialized in the Bull City.

"Black Lives Matter. And we must work every day to make sure they matter here in Durham," he said.

Between the city and the Durham Housing Authority's budgets, more than $80 million will be spent on creating and preserving affordable housing in Durham this year. But "we need to do more," Schewel said. Financial institutions, nonprofit housing developers, and the city will be working to set up a housing trust fund, and Schewel suggested the city may also need to issue a bond to address its affordable housing needs, the most critical being the redevelopment of the Durham Housing Authority's deteriorating public housing stock.

Durham Housing Authority CEO Anthony Scott said those redevelopment plans will require "an investment beyond what the Housing Authority can make on its own." Monday's speech reinforced an already strong commitment from the city to help make that happen.

"One thing that's clear, being here in Durham is unique to any experience I've had in other cities," he said.

Schewel set his sights on ending children's homelessness and bringing the county, city and Alliance Behavioral Health together to house and provide support services for the homeless.

With an estimated fifty thousand Durhamites without reliable access to sufficient food, Schewel announced plans to hold a food security summit and a food security coordinator. He also described a pilot composting program with citywide food waste collection.

"Let’s become known as the city where we eat in the best restaurants and do the best job of feeding all of our residents," he said. "Let’s create an economy in Durham around food security and food justice."

After singing a few lines of Emma Lazarus's famous inscription on the Statue of Liberty, he welcomed the families of Jose Chicas and Samuel Oliver-Bruno, two men taking sanctuary from deportation in Durham churches.

"Te damos la bienvenida a Durham con los brazos abiertos y corazones abiertos," he told them. "In Durham, we welcome you with open arms and open hearts."

On Tuesday, the full text and video of the speech will be posted here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in News



Twitter Activity

Comments

Durham city council, mayor and BDS supporter, Jillian Johnson threw their political weight behind divisive, hate groups, banned by ADL …

by Deborah Friedman on Drawing Accusations of Anti-Semitism, Durham City Council Passes Statement on Police Exchanges (News)

Just like a bad relationship.....

by arthurb3 on Swedish Sadness: Ikea Pulls Out of Cary (News)

Most Recent Comments

Durham city council, mayor and BDS supporter, Jillian Johnson threw their political weight behind divisive, hate groups, banned by ADL …

by Deborah Friedman on Drawing Accusations of Anti-Semitism, Durham City Council Passes Statement on Police Exchanges (News)

Just like a bad relationship.....

by arthurb3 on Swedish Sadness: Ikea Pulls Out of Cary (News)

Middleton and Schewel were right to vote no. We elected the city council to make decisions on the budget - …

by Durham451 on Durham Residents Will Get to Tell the City How to Spend $2.4 Million (News)

I agree with all the comments. The board is and has been controlling everything. Nancy has been a puppet. She …

by Kay Bonquiqui on Breaking: Nancy Errichetti, Head of the Montessori School of Raleigh, Arrested for Allegedly Aiding and Abetting Sexual Abuse (News)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation