(Article reposted with permission from The Samuel Dubois Cook Center on Social Equity)
Only three of the six candidates for Durham’s City Council appeared on Thursday night to participate in a public forum at Duke.
The candidates – Jillian Johnson, Charlie Reece and Steve Schewel, – took questions from Duke students, many of which were posted on Twitter using the hashtag #DukeVotes2015.
Duke Democrats: What can the city do to help stop the school to prison pipeline in Durham county? #DukeVotes2015
Artstigators: Are there plans for more street art in Durham? #DukeVotes2015 #artstigators
Durham Living Wage Project: Are there incentives the city can provide for businesses that pay living wages? #liveabull #dukevotes2015
The candidates agreed with each other on nearly every topic, with only slight differences in emphasis. The candidates had rehearsed their points having met the night before for a City Hall forum. After stating their platforms, students Zack Faircloth, T ’18, and Luke Raskopf, T‘16, took turns grilling the candidates on issues related to social equity.
Johnson, a Duke alum, said it was within reason to shame corporations, like the Marriott, into doing the right thing by paying its contractual workers a living wage. Contractors’ families have been picketing in front of the newly built Marriott on Main Street in Durham because workers have apparently still not been paid although the hotel is open for business.
Schewel, a visiting assistant professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy, said that Duke, as the largest employer in the state, second only to Wal-Mart, has an obligation to end poverty in Durham by increasing the wages and salaries of its lowest paid workers. He noted that there is no reason why Durham should have 28 percent of its children living in poverty.
Reece, treasurer of the North Carolina Democratic Party, agreed. All candidates said they would have to be creative in dealing with an antagonistic state general assembly and state mandates.
The forum was sponsored by the Initiative on Poverty and Social Justice, part of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity.
Click here to see photos from the event.