Durham has city elections coming up this fall, and today is opening day for the campaign season – 45 days in advance of the early-voting start in the Oct. 8 municipal primary.
Incumbent Mayor Bill Bell and his two challengers, Michael Valentine and Sylvester Williams; and the four candidates for the Ward 2 seat – Omar Beasley, Eddie Davis, Franklin Hanes and Del Mattioli – are on the primary ballot. The two remaining candidates in each race face off in the Nov. 5 general election.
Don Moffitt and Pam Karriker are the only candidates in Ward 3 and won’t be on a ballot until the general election; their signs can’t go up until Sept. 2. Mayor Pro Tem and Ward 1 incumbent Cora Cole-McFadden is unopposed for re-election.
Campaign-sign dates caused some confusion in 2012, when some campaigners – notably state Senate candidate Kerry Sutton – thought their opponents were jumping the gun.
Much of Durham’s political community assumed the 45-day rule meant 45 days before election day. When early voting was instituted, though, City-County Planning Director Steve Medlin, whose department is in charge of Durham sign rules, decided that the opening of early voting is when an election starts.
Nothing requires Medlin or anyone else to make announcements about sign restrictions; it’s the candidates’ responsibility to ask if they don’t know the rules. The planning department’s contact information comes in the information packet every candidate gets when she or he files to run for office.
This year, though, the planning department is sending candidates a formal notice – just in case they didn’t read the information they were given.