Durham mayor focused on jobs


Looking ahead to 2010, Bell says he's optimistic that next year will be an improvement over a difficult 2009.

"We will aggressively be seeking new jobs, new companies. We had a job forum probably a couple of weeks ago at the request of President Barack Obama, and some very interesting ideas came out of that that we're gonna be pursuing," he told ABC11 in an interview Wednesday.

Job growth is a key factor in accomplishing other goals as well. The top two revenue sources for the city are property tax and sales tax. With the down economy in 2009, filling city coffers has proved challenging.

"We're hoping that if people have jobs, they'll spend money. If they don't have jobs it's pretty hard to ask them to spend money," said Bell.

With the money he does have, Bell has outlined two important goals. The first is revitalizing Durham's inner-city neighborhoods.

"I'm a very strong believer that if you have strong neighborhoods, you have strong cities. And we're about the business of trying to make sure that happens in Durham," he said.

Bell's also pushing county commissioners and Triangle Transit to come up with a plan to connect Durham to other cities by rail. He wants to continue with green initiatives like the purchase of hybrid buses. And, he says he always has an eye on public safety.

"In the last week or so it just seems like we've had an incredible number of homicides. But overall crime has been decreasing in Durham, and that's a continuing effort," he said.

Bell says he should have a better idea around March what the city's budget outlook will be for 2010. But he says everything he wants to accomplish comes down to paying for it, so he's really hinging a lot of his plans on job creation in the New Year.

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