Durham City Council will select a new member Tuesday morning. Meet the finalists.


Durham City Council is Choose a new member Tuesday morning, an elected body filled with new faces in recent years concluded.

The council seat has remained vacant since December Leonardo Williams Leave it to He became mayor.

Watch the Live broadcast 9:30 am

The four finalists

Four finalists are running for two-year terms representing Ward 3, the city’s west side.

They have undergone interviews and recruited supporters to sing their praises to the six members who will vote at a special meeting on Tuesday.

If an agreement is reached, the new member will be sworn in on Tuesday evening. The job comes with an annual salary of $35,200.

The finalists for the vacant Durham City Council seat in 2024 are, clockwise from top left, Shelia Ann Huggins, Chelsea Cook, Chastan Swain and Amanda Puryear.

The finalists for the vacant Durham City Council seat in 2024 are, clockwise from top left, Shelia Ann Huggins, Chelsea Cook, Chastan Swain and Amanda Puryear.

Shelia Ann Huggins

  • Who is she: An attorney with many years of experience in city government. I ran twice for council elections – The last one is in 2023 – He has applied for three previous vacant positions.

  • One big idea: Huggins is passionate about connecting people to jobs, with goals of workforce development and recruiting high-paying companies to the area.

  • Where I stumbled: Huggins briefly stunned the board by bringing up “The Silence of the Lambs” when asked about leaders she looks up to. She pointed out a line about wanting “what you see every day,” which for her meant a life of public service because of her parents’ profession. “I thought you were going to say Hannibal Lecter,” Mayor Tim Mark Anthony Middleton said with a laugh.

  • Leaders who inspire: Her parents.

  • Notable supporter: Thelma Glenn White: “Even when Shelia didn’t win in 2017, she was She stays involved and stays committed, because she believes in Durham and wants to make it a better place for all of us. I’ve seen too many people run for government office, and when they didn’t win, I never saw or heard from them again. This is not Shelia“.

  • How did you reach the finals: Supported by Leonardo Williams, Mark Anthony Middleton, Javiera CaballeroCarl Rist and Nate Baker.

Chelsea Cook

  • Who is she: An attorney working in eviction diversion for legal aid in North Carolina.

  • One big idea: Cook has big ideas about how to make housing affordable and reduce homelessness, including creating a rental assistance program and incentivizing acceptance of housing vouchers.

  • Where I stumbled: She could not speak specifically about zoning cases, but said she appreciated the city’s efforts to reduce urban sprawl in the suburbs.

  • Restaurant recommendation: Friday Bull at The Chicken Hut.

  • Notable supporter: Sophie Mayer: “Her qualifications, as you know, are impeccable. But I will add that she is probably the only council candidate who has waited tables and driven an Uber in our city… People gravitate toward Chelsea and remember her for how she made them feel: heard, valued, equaled and uplifted. Sometimes challenging too, but always respectfully and with a genuine desire to find solutions and common ground.

  • How did you reach the finals: With the voices of Dedriana Freeman, Javiera Caballero, Carl Rist, and Nate Baker.

Chastan Swain

  • Who is he: A state legal and political consultant who moved to Durham five years ago. His background before law school was in ceramics.

  • One big idea: Swain praised the council’s efforts to densify urban areas, but said he was concerned about the environmental and community impacts of rapid development in suburban areas, such as southeast Durham.

  • Where he stumbled: He has been a lifelong North Carolinian but had to work to convince council members of his commitment to staying in Durham. Swain said he and his husband fell in love with the city as they became more involved.

  • Leaders who inspire: Pauli Murray for their pioneering civil rights leadership for the LGBT community. US Rep. Jeff Jackson to make politics accessible to Generation Z.

  • Restaurant recommendations: Isaac’s cakes. saltbox. Deakin ice cream.

  • Notable supporter: Chris Dripps: “Even while earning his law degree at UNC-Chapel Hill, where he served as President of the Graduate Student Council and served on the Durham Environmental Affairs Board, Chastan was an active and valued member of the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association’s Board of Directors and Committee. Very knowledgeable about the major environmental issues facing our city.

  • How he reached the final: With the voices of Leonardo Williams, Mark Anthony Middleton, Javiera Caballero and Karl Rist.

Amanda Purer

  • Who is she: Director of Public Health at Duke University who moved to Durham in 2010.

  • One big idea: Borer is passionate about senior care and wants Durham to invest in support systems as a workforce development strategy, addressing issues that hold people back from keeping their jobs, such as lack of child care and transportation.

  • Where I stumbled: When asked about the zoning decisions, Puryear could not speak specifically about any cases other than those that have been made SCAD, a package of reforms Which passed late last year.

  • A leader who inspires: Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

  • Restaurant recommendation: You can’t choose just one.

  • Notable supporter: Leanne Clark-Shirley: “Ever since I’ve known her, Amanda has moved at full speed towards problems that need to be solved or opportunities to make things better than they are today… She understands and is able to remind us that aging is not a problem, something to be feared or seen as a threat.

  • How did you reach the finals: With the voices of Dedriana Freeman, Javiera Caballero, Carl Rist, and Nate Baker.

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