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Hughes denies 'alliance' with Williams

City Council candidate Donald Hughes (right) said Saturday that he is not in any alliance with Mayor candidate Sylvester Williams.

Hughes was responding to comments made by council candidate John Tarantino, who said Williams' campaign workers were distributing sample ballots with Williams's name marked along with Hughes's and council candidates Solomon Burnette and Victoria Williams. (See item below.)

"I have not authorized my name to be used on any sample ballot," Hughes wrote in an email to Bull's Eye.

"Any citizen has a right to support me, but I want to make it completely clear that my campaign has not authorized any individual or campaign to use my name on a sample ballot. Mr. Tarantino stated, 'the candidates scrambled and formed an alliance' — this is completely false. I have not formed an alliance with any candidate in this year's election. It is clear that Mr. Tarantino's endorsement and accusations are a desperate final attempt to gain votes ahead of Tuesday's primary election."

Tarantino endorses Bowser

City Council candidate John Tarantino (right) said this afternoon that he's endorsing County Commissioner Joe Bowser for mayor in Tuesday's primary election.

"I'm aligned with Bowser and encouraging my friends to vote for Bowser," he said.

Bowser (below), who has more than a year left on his commissioner's term, is challenging incumbent Mayor Bill Bell. Retired salesman Ralph McKinney and minister Sylvester Williams are also in the race.

Tarantino is one of seven candidates for three at-large Council seats. Tuesday's voting will eliminate one, as well as two mayoral candidates, leaving the survivors to face off in the Nov. 8 general election.

Tarantino said he decided to come out for Bowser after Williams's campaign began passing out sample ballots encouraging votes for three black City Council candidates: Solomon Burnette, Donald Hughes and Victoria Peterson.

"The worst thing that can happen is nothing," he said.

Tarantino said he was miffed because he had given Williams support, including financial support, in a past campaign for City Council.

Bowser is also black, as is Bell; Tarantino is white, and said Williams, Burnette, Hughes and Peterson appeared to have formed a bloc after the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, one of Durham's major political organizations, decided against making endorsements for the primary.

Williams, Hughes and Peterson have said the Durham Committee's political subcommittee recommended them for endorsement, but the full Committee did not accept the recommendation. Peterson said the political subcommittee also favored Burnette, but Burnette declined to comment.

"The candidates scrambled and formed an alliance," Tarantino said.

The People's Alliance, another major Durham PAC, has endorsed Bell along with council incumbents Eugene Brown and Diane Catotti and former School Board member Steve Schewel. An Alliance campaign mailer promotes the four as a team in the elections.

Brown, Catotti and Schewel are white.

Tarantino mulls another run

After an unsuccessful run for city council in 2009 and for the Durham Public Schools board last year, Republican John Tarantino (right) is thinking about trying again.

But he won’t say what for. Durham voters will elect a mayor and three at-large city council members this fall.

“As of tomorrow,” Tarantino said this morning, “I will be meeting with an attorney to form an exploratory committee regarding … this upcoming election.

“If I should run.”

The exploration, he said, would involve, “what kinds of issues will be of importance, what will our priorities be and what will be the structure of the campaign organization.

“It’s very preliminary.”

Tarantino won't seek PA endorsement for school board seat

Durham Public Schools Board candidate John Tarantino (right) says he isn't seeking the Durham People's Alliance endorsement in his run against District 1 incumbent Omega Curtis Parker and fellow challenger Donald Hughes.

In a prepared statement Friday, Tarantino said:

"After being contacted by Kate Fellman of the People's Alliance on March 2 with a questionnaire attached, and then a followup call today, John Tarantino, candidate for School Board, had a very cordial conversation and indicated he would not be seeking the endorsement of the Alliance in this race. He went on to say that, given the election of the four incumbents in the fall City Council election, he would be stunned to see the Alliance endorse anyone other than the incumbents in this race."

Speaking to Bull's Eye, Tarantino reiterated that his talk with Fellman had "a very cordial tone" and said, "I want people to know I'm not seeking PAC endorsements but votes."

Tarantino ran unsuccessfully last year for the City Council Ward 1 seat won by incumbent Cora Cole-McFadden. Hughes was also a candidate in that election.

Baker, Tarantino enter school board races

Two more candidates joined the race for seats on the Durham Public School Board today, as Christine Baker filed to run against Nancy Cox in District 3 and John Tarantino filed to oppose incumbent Omega Curtis Parker and challenger Donald A. Hughes in District 1.

Tarantino (right), who along with Hughes ran for the City Council Ward 1 seat won last year by incumbent Cora Cole-McFadden, made a formal statement to Bull's Eye after filing:

"I feel that District 1, which is central and east Durham, needs a fresh set of eyes and ears that the incumbent lacks, as well as an independent point of view from the status quo," Tarantino said.

"I believe my 20-year teaching certificate and my 20 years' military reseve experience in administration eclipses the other challenger's experience. I think we need to look closely at reviewing our multicultural curriculum and social studies, be it Eurocentric, Afrocentric or Hispanic-Latino, to be sure we are covering what's supposed to be covered by state standards as well as covering ther community's needs.

"Finally, we need to look at hiring practices, from the superintendent right on down to the bus drivers."

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