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Rating the mayor’s campaign promises on the O’Neal-O-Meter

When Elaine O’Neal announced she was running for mayor in 2021, she said her goal was a “Durham for Everyone.” 

A lifelong Durhamite, O’Neal knew the city’s most pressing issues. On her campaign website, she laid out plans of action, grouping her solutions beneath categories such as “Neighborhood Safety & Wellbeing” and “Economic Relief & Recovery.” She also discussed her priorities with local organizations such as Bike Durham and INDY Week. 

Though some of her promises were nebulously worded (What does it mean to “establish a community-based, paid workforce to gather information about the lived experiences of our residents rather than paying outside vendors”?), others expressed concrete plans, such as establishing task forces or allocating more funding towards programs like eviction diversion and youth engagement. In November 2021, O’Neal won the election in a landslide, with 84.7% of the vote.

As her first term winds down, The 9th Street Journal has examined 23 of her campaign promises that had measurable outcomes. We’ve provided a rating for each promise on our own O’Neal-O-Meter, which uses a scale modeled after PolitiFact’s Obamameter.

O’Neal’s results have been mixed. She’s kept promises about creating opportunities for youth and supporting community-led violence prevention efforts. But some pledges about upholding the recommendations of Durham’s racial equity task force remain unfulfilled. (See our complete list.)
















Above: the tally of our ratings as of July 2023.

The ratings for the O’Neal-O-Meter:

  • Promise Kept: The original promise has been kept or mostly fulfilled.
  • In the Works: Concrete steps have been taken to fulfill the promise.
  • Stalled: There is no evidence of movement on the promise to date. In some cases this may reflect limited funding; in other cases, it may result from a shift in priorities.
  • Compromise: There has been substantially less accomplished than was pledged in the original statement, but there is still a significant accomplishment that is consistent with the goal of the original promise.
  • Promise Broken: The promise has not been fulfilled. 

How we rated the promises: Each promise has been directly copied from O’Neal’s campaign website issues page unless indicated otherwise. The mayor’s office provided updates on many of the promises, but O’Neal was not available for a phone call prior to publication.

This project will be ongoing, and we will update the ratings as we receive new information about the mayor’s progress on these original campaign promises.

At top, the O’Neal-O-Meter. Design by Nina Moske — The 9th Street Journal