WHY I'M RUNNING
Durham has to represent our progressive conscience. We live in a state and in a country where so many of us feel threatened, excluded, and without a voice in politics. Durham has to expect its local leaders to live up to that responsibility - to represent us all, to respect all of our experiences, to be accountable to everyone’s needs, to look forward, and embody the values of the community.
I am running because I am eager to take on that responsibility. I will bring a strong and informed voice to City Council. Most of all, I will help us all live up to the progressive expectations that all, not some of us, have for Durham.
Durham is my home. It is where my history is written, where my soul lives, and where I am determined to leave a progressive legacy, like those before me. My cousin by marriage, Rencher N. (R.N.) Harris, was a fierce advocate who served as Durham’s first black City Council member. My grandmother, Virginia Alston, ran a daycare at White Rock Baptist Church, a hub of the Black community, where many of our city’s leaders learned their ABCs and the core tenants of their faith. My other grandmother, Margaret Davis, while working as a household domestic, cleaning homes and raising the children of well-to-do whites in Trinity Park, she fought under the leadership of elders like Ann Atwater to save her community in Hayti. They and so many others define the perseverance that we champion today but also the constant commitment it takes to hold our communities together. I intend to honor their contributions to Durham’s identity and carry them forward by standing up for everyone who has chosen Durham as their home.
As a lawyer, I have devoted my professional career to helping advance progressive ideals through social justice work. Through my work representing death-sentenced individuals, I see how structural racism, poverty, and fear born out of hatred and lack of understanding funnel whole communities of people into a deeply flawed criminal justice system. I have been a steady voice for abolition of the death penalty, against racial injustice, and for those who often have no other advocate. I want to bring that same commitment to social justice to Durham’s City Council.
I have a beautiful family. My wife, Courtney, is smarter, funnier, and a far better human being than I could ever hope to be. My daughter, Reese, has challenged me to examine my moral foundation so that I can be a stable influence as she creates her own. My family, like many others in Durham, lives here because Durham has been a safer place to be openly-LGBTQ than a lot of others. At a time when that sense of safety is under threat, Durham has to be courageous and live up to our expectations.
Background and civic engagement:
Graduated from N.C. State University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science
Received a law degree from UNC Chapel Hill in 2009
Gathered statistics for use under the North Carolina Racial Justice Act
Worked as a staff attorney at NC Prisoner Legal Services from 2010 to 2012
Worked as an attorney at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation
Represented Henry McCollum, formerly the longest serving death row inmate, through his exoneration in 2014 (led by work of the NC Innocence Inquiry Commission)
Former GED tutor at TROSA, Inc.
Member of Durham’s Citizen Advisory Committee from 2015 to 2017
Board member of the Durham Peoples’ Alliance from 2016 to 2017
Board member of the UNC Law Pro Bono Alumni Board from 2015 to 2017