The Road to City Hall… On the Issues

I am on the Road to City Hall, stepping, marching, skipping, and running at an adrenalin flowing pace to capture your pulse on the issues. I am the candidate in your neighborhood, I hear your voices and am surrounded by and supported by the “United Nations of Durham” the heart and soul of people that work everyday for a greater Durham. The time is now to carry that support one step further VOTE One Durham…Vote Farad Ali for your Mayor.

The mantra of my campaign “ONE Durham” is rooted in the need to be inclusive, engaging of all people and equity and balance in economic and social investment so that the best of Durham, our people, and our diversity may prosper. I offer you as a candidate and as your Mayor a future of “One Durham” not rhetoric or a tag line, but a Durham that will “be as one.”

I am not on the Road to City Hall alone, the issues are not just mine and they will remain to be addressed far beyond last vote on November 7th.

Economic Development

“I fondly call Durham, the City that Bill Built. Yes, Mayor Bill Bell’s vision and the vision of key business leaders and organizations in Durham with the bull determination and tenacity laid the blueprint that has resulted in one of the most successful economic development transformations in the country.” – Farad Ali

WHERE I STAND:

I would continue to advance this successful economic development blueprint the partnerships and investments, the innovation that has served to significantly expand the city downtown and county tax base and financial sustainability. I would propose an inclusive economy that would also focus on reinvestment of businesses in areas that have been neglected or have high level of poverty. As a minority majority city, many of the communities of color are alienated from the very attributes and opportunities that have brought industry to the heart of the city. And I would work to bring balance of opportunities within these communities. However the high poverty rate, the complex systemic causes of poverty, lack of investment in underserved communities must be priorities in balancing the economic health throughout the City so that all citizens may prosper.

  • Continue economic investment activities that promote business and development that creates livable wage jobs throughout Durham and efforts to address poverty by focusing job opportunities and training with current unemployed and unskilled workers.
  • Engage the community, explore and expand the possibilities for incentives beyond the current use– to leverage benefits and cost of incentives to promote development especially to focus on training and job opportunities in areas with the highest concentrations of poverty.
  • Develop innovative financial and strategies to invest in the redevelopment of neighborhoods to include revitalization of commercial areas, housing and adaptive reuse and opportunities to support minority business and entrepreneurship.

The FACTS:

  • The Triangle is luring nearly 80 new residents a day with strong job growth and a high quality of life.
  • EDurham successfully reinvented itself – from a tobacco industry to technology giant to a city of innovation
  • Durham is a magnate – a City in demand—seen as an icon of innovation with nearly 100 national accolades

Economy / Jobs

Durham’s renaissance is a true illustration of vision, transformation and grit. Built on the strength of leadership and innovation. Now is the time to implement plans directed to investments in neighborhoods and local businesses so that all may prosper.

WHERE I STAND:

I believe the future of our economy will continue to be in the hands of small business –start-ups and entrepreneurship. We as a community must prepare Durham residents as the workforce of the future. Focus efforts to merge the opportunities for the unemployed, under-skilled by bridging the education and technical skill training that too often serve as barriers to long-term successful employment.

  • Offer training and opportunities to prepare our workforce to meet the needs of industry recruited into Durham.
  • Provide resources to launch new businesses and entrepreneurs.
  • Seek grant opportunities like the Bloomberg Innovation Team to fund research to tackle urban issues like poverty.
  • Focus on minority-owned businesses that currently receive a disparate share of the overall business activity in the city, which is 65 percent African-American.
  • Work with Durham Technical Community College, four-year universities, private proprietary vocational training providers, and Durham Public Schools to provide appropriate vocational education and customized training to enable citizens to take advantage of opportunities for employment with current and new business locating in Durham.
  • Encouraged new business to hire locally providing opportunities for Durham residents to apply for positions created by the projects that are slated to receive incentives.
  • Provided programs to support locally-owned retail and professional services.

The FACTS:

  • 4.40% Unemployment Rate
  • 2.25% Current Job Growth
  • 40.10 Predicted future job growth over the next 10 years
  • $29,051 Income per capita
  • $49,585 Median Household income

Transportation

“Everywhere I go, I see incredible examples of communities that have a vision for transportation and how it will impact the quality of life, mobility, economics and opportunity” – Anthony Foxx, Former US Secretary of Transportation

WHERE I STAND:

Connectivity, mobility and access to public transportation and building livable communities is the key. We must take the experience of our phenomenal growth and embrace the role of transit and the many assets it affords all Durham and triangle residents. Livable communities, pedestrian friendly walk ways–, dedicated lanes and bikes on buses. Transit Oriented development open pathways to future affordable housing and mixed used development to meet housing needs without displacement. I support the benefits that transportation projects will bring to communities along the transit line that have been neglected. Bridging barriers to jobs, educational facilities and increasing employment and entrepreneurial opportunities open up new doors, as development around the stations and throughout the corridor will include plans for affordable housing and mixed-use developments. This investment will not only propel stability in our neighborhood infrastructure it will be an investment in the citizens that have called these communities their home. The Impact of the sales tax investment and the projected benefit of the 17.7 mile – 18-station light rail project are significant to the growth of Durham and the region. With an expected completion date of 2028, we must advance policies to strengthen the success of the project, including the support of local governing bodies, state legislature, civic and business and citizens of Durham.

The FACTS:

  • 10% of Orange County residents commute to work in Durham County or more than 14,300 people.
  • 9.5 % of Durham residents commute to Orange County for work or 17,606 people.
  • $7.6 million in bus stop improvements, including providing shelters, benches, trashcans and accessibility improvements at 200 stops.
  • $1.5 million in improvements to transit emphasis corridors, including Holloway Street in East Durham along Route 3 and Fayetteville Street along Route 5.
  • $948,000 in improvements to park-and-ride lots.
  • $928,000 in improvements to transit centers.
  • $2.5 billion Engineering and construction costs.
  • 50,000 Annual hours of additional transit service in Durham and Orange counties once the service starts.

Affordable Housing

“The task is monumental…however, brick by brick and heart to heart, we can build a better future.” Maya Angelou

WHERE I STAND:

Stable and affordable housing matters in Durham. The data is clear- poverty and the absence of affordable housing render many people homeless and housing insecure –so we must strive to keep the beauty of Durham’s diversity and not lose it to exclusion of the growth of downtown. We must preserve the option for people to remain in their home neighborhoods and not be priced out by new development. We must act today to prepare the affordable housing for the future. Durham has a unique opportunity to learn from lessons passed and make affordable housing a priority as well as new home ownership an option. However, we cannot and should not do it alone. With the Housing Authority as the lead and responsible agent, joint by the number of housing organizations, churches and residents we have an opportunity to do more to meet the needs. Now is the time to make Durham a great place to live for all citizens by taking the bold step to provide the land, resources and development of quality affordable homes for rent and purchase in all communities for all people throughout the City of Durham.

  • Develop housing and economic development mandatory policies for development that promote inclusionary policies, mixed-income, and racially balanced communities.
  • Develop a housing strategy inclusive of the Housing Authority, County and City approved by the citizens.
  • Revise current strategic plans of the City to meet the immediate affordable housing shortage plans of Durham’s low-income citizens within 2 years and hold the City accountable for reaching the development goals.
  • Continue the penny tax initiative – consider strategies like a trust fund to leverage/generate additional revenues.
  • Implement policy for public land use along transit lines to incorporate affordable housing and mixed use developments.

The FACTS:

  • For every 100 very low-income renter household, there are only 79 rental affordable units available.
  • 27,000 cost burdened households are paying over 30% of their income for housing—of these 15,000 are severely housing cost burdened, paying over 50% of their income for housing.
  • On any given night approximately 750 Durham residents are homeless.
  • Very low-income households, particularly renters concentrated in Central Durham are being displaced due to the growth, rent escalation and cost of homes.

Policing / Safe Communities / Youth Crime

“My heroes are those who risk their lives every day to protect and defend our City and make it a better place to live for all families and communities. They are the police officer, the elected officials, the teachers, the clergy, the students, the senior citizens, and the parents-all pillars in our neighborhoods that make us safe and keep us safer.” – Farad Ali, Candidate for Mayor

WHERE I STAND:

Policing/Safe Communities:

It is of the utmost importance to prevent and reduce crime and make our communities safer. I firmly believe that it “takes a village” –building better relations between the police and the community is the key.

I fully support annual racial equity training as well as other practical diversity and human rights training that serves to build trust, prevent racial profiling and prepare the police for successful and safer interactions and outcomes. I would also continue the practice of the Chief of police to report on the status of the training that all officers have completed as part of the Fair and Impartial Policing training — now included in the Basic Law Enforcement Training curriculum for all incoming new recruits.

I support a safe work place and therefore support policies that call for random drug testing for law enforcement officers as well as other employers.

To achieve success, I support recruiting the best applicants as well as increasing staffing to full capacity– currently filling 499 of 547 sworn positions and 107 of124 non sworn positions is a giant step to achieving a full police force. In addition, I strongly support policies for community policing and incentives to encourage members of the police force to reside within the city as well as the “Take a Car Home” initiative.

I firmly support the continued documentation of data to track the number of traffic stops and searches in an effort to address the issue of racial profiling. I further support the Police Chief’s presentation of this data in the Quarterly reports to the Council.

Studies have shown that the implementation of body camera’s have resulted in a decrease in excessive force and racial profiling. In Durham, 75% of public in a small survey indicated the use of body cameras increased their trust in police and I strongly support the use of body cameras and efforts to ensure that privacy concerns are addressed when the cameras are deployed.

The Durham Police Department has a unique opportunity with new leadership to transform the image, trust, performance and the relationship between the community and police force. That includes addressing issues of racial disparity in policing and a greater emphasis on communicating with the citizens. I also believes that “it takes a village” to build a community and would prioritize transparency and communication with the residents of Durham. Starting with the office of the Mayor, City Council and Police Chief working together to strengthen the integrity of the police force in the communities eyes and to assist in preparing the force to better understand our diversity, be more tolerant and understanding and ultimately more successful in their role to keep our community safe.

Youth Crime:

The statistics on youth crime are frightening and we must work together to reverse this trend to save our youth, protect our citizens. Collaboration and look beyond the current programs and have the will to aggressively pursue initiatives that work.

  • Reverse the trends of gun violence and gang activity – where our youth ages 16-25 made up 62% of gun arrests
  • Reverse the statistics that showed from 2009-12, 73 percent of gun-homicide victims age 15-34 were black; 24 percent Hispanic, 3 percent white.
  • Remove the guns and violence acts and revere the statistics where In 2009-12, 83 percent of gun-involved aggravated assault victims age 15-34 were black; 9 percent Hispanic; 8 percent white.
  • Work together as a community – engaging schools, police and social justice networks.to offer a brighter future for our youth.
  • System that looks first to the human side to reduce incarceration that has taken a disproportional toll on minority youth.
  • De-concentrate neighborhoods that have high poverty rates where the percentage of gun homicides and aggravated assault rates were highest.

The FACTS:

  • Nationally and in Durham mistrust between the police and the community is one of the most deeply rooted problems facing our community.
  • Community accusations of racial bias and racial profiling contribute to growing lack of trust in police.
  • Violent crime up 9%
  • Property Crime up 7%
  • 62% of gun arrests were made by youth and young adults ages 16-25
  • 73% of gun homicide victims ranged in age 15-34 were black, 24% Hispanic and 3% white

Poverty

The highest concentration of poverty in Durham is the section of North-East Central Durham (NECD)–home to about 3,466 people. It has a 61.4 percent poverty rate, with annual incomes there averaging $10,005 per person. It is time to make Poverty a Priority and to complete the work started by Mayor Bell and bring a new renaissance to the people in areas that are in the greatest need.
– Farad Ali, Candidate for Mayor 2017

WHERE I STAND:

Poverty is the major issue of my campaign because it is at core the principle threat to economic independence, health and productive futures for children, youth, families as evidenced by the statistics above. We as a community and as leaders can no longer neglect or gentrify or fuel the racial divide and inequities that exist and persist—we must aggressively face the complexity of poverty—jobs, housing, education, transportation, childcare, safety and health and build and invest communities so that all citizens have a path to greater economic mobility and quality of life.

  • Change the charge of the Mayor’s task force to a Commission.
  • Expand engagement of city/county/community/civic and business leaders and elected officials with citizens, the faith community and organizations working collaboratively on initiatives.

The FACTS:

  • Child poverty rate birth to 5 years of age in Durham is approaching 30%
  • Adult poverty rate: 18%
  • 50% of young children live in low-income households
  • 17.3% of the population in Durham County, NC (288,480 people) live below the poverty line, a number that is higher than the national average of 14.7%.
  • The largest demographic living in poverty is Female 25-34, followed by Male 35-44 and then Female < 5.
  • The most common racial or ethnic group living below the poverty line in Durham County is Black or African American- 47.7%, followed by White-33.6% and Hispanic or Latino- 24.7%.

Source 2015 Census-DATA USA, Durham Partnership for Children

Equity- ek-wi-tee

Just and fair inclusion. An equitable society is one in which all can participate & prosper. The goals of equity must be to create conditions that allow all to reach their full potential. In short, equity creates a path from hope to change. We are the change we seek.” We must let our voices be heard and create the path together…as One Durham!

WHERE I STAND:

On all fronts the data shows that there is a great disparity in the economic success of minority populations in comparison to the mainstream. I measure equity when we reach parity or exceed it–when minority home ownership rises from 43.3% to 65.0% or above the same as whites. When educational attainment –earning a bachelor degree rises from 30% for African Americans, 17.8% for Hispanics to the 63.5% that whites achieve. I measure success when median household incomes for African Americans of $34,766 and Latinos of $38,750 rises to match or exceeds the $62,698 level maintained by whites. I measure success when the poverty rate for children age 0-8 residing in a home where the head of household is at or below the poverty level is reduced from the current levels of 37% for African American and 36% for Hispanics to the poverty level of 8% for white children

It is time to not only have a discussion on these inequities and Race. It is time to realize the “Change We Seek,” and begin a serious dialogue and put in place a priority on how we may continue to grow as a diverse and inclusive community to look at reducing poverty, offering equity in our educational institutions, job offerings, homeownership and affordable housing opportunities and areas of investment in our community. I believe the time is now, for us to address issues of racial inequity and the significant existing barriers in all segments and plot a path toward closing the gap and healing. Let’s fully understand the words of gentrification, displacement, the policies of economic development, incentives and partnerships, acceptance and rejection of people and truly frame a “stronger infrastructure of opportunity and dismantle the systems of economic exploitation and stratification which have relied on racism to justify their continuation far too long.” Let’s build a “One Durham” of unity, action and prosperity for all.

The FACTS:

Educational Attainment

  • White – 63.5%
  • Black – 30%
  • Hispanic – 17.5%
  • % of Population

  • White – 46%
  • Black – 37%
  • Hispanic – 13%
  • Median Household Income

  • White – $62,698
  • Black – $34,766
  • Hispanic – $38,750
  • Poverty Rate

  • White – 8%
  • Black – 37%
  • Hispanic – 36%