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Mayor O’Neal’s campaign promises, revisited

After nearly two years as mayor of the Bull City, Elaine O’Neal said recently that she won’t be seeking re-election.

O’Neal’s June 22 announcement follows what was, at times, a turbulent term. In 2023, members of Durham’s City Council weathered a criminal investigation, a physical altercation, and most recently, a contentious budget hearing. Despite the ups and downs, O’Neal expressed gratitude for her time in office in an emailed statement.

“My love for Durham and its citizens has never wavered, and it never will,” she said. “However, at this time in my life, my attention has shifted to prioritizing my family. Therefore, I will not seek another term.”

Her successor could be a current member of the City Council. The News & Observer reported that councilman Leonardo Williams is considering a mayoral run, and that Mayor Pro Tempore Mark-Anthony Middleton declined to say whether he’d run. The deadline to file for candidacy in the November city election is July 21. 

In light of the mayor’s announcement and the changes set in motion by the recent budget hearing, we’ve updated our promise tracker, which tracks O’Neal’s record on fulfilling her campaign promises. A spokesperson for the mayor declined to provide comment for the story.

It’s worth noting that O’Neal recently voted “no” on the city budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 because it did not provide for higher pay for firefighters. “I support this budget, but for that one thing,” she said at the end of the June 20 meeting. “I’m sorry that we couldn’t do it tonight, but I’m going to keep pushing.” The budget passed narrowly, with four members of City Council voting for it and three against.

As of July 2023, the tally of O’Neal’s campaign promises stands as follows:

  • Promise Kept: 10
  • Compromise: 2
  • Promise Broken: 2
  • Stalled: 1
  • In the Works: 8

Read more about the mayor’s campaign promises and how she has delivered on them here.