'Grateful': Durham elects Elaine O'Neal city's first Black female mayor

Joel Brown Image
Wednesday, November 3, 2021
'Grateful': Durham elects O'Neal city's first Black female mayor
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Elaine O'Neal celebrated her big moment but also spoke about the big challenges she faces when she takes office -- including Durham's rise in crime.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- While the outcome of Durham's mayoral election was already certain, it did not steal the excitement when Elaine O'Neal walked in the doors of the Rickhouse on Tuesday night. Officially, the mayor-elect. The first Black woman to be mayor of the Bull City.

Former Durham Mayor Bill Bell introduced his political mentee as O'Neal arrived to this room full of supporters -- including the Durham County sheriff and district attorney.

O'Neal spoke about the big challenges she faces when she takes office -- including the rise in crime. This former district and superior court judge talked about improving the partnership with the sheriff's office and the DA to solve the issue of gun violence "street by street."

She said Durham neighborhoods should not feel like war zones.

But O'Neal's victory speech was also about the moment: the history she made for Black women; about uniting the city. She talked about gratitude.

"Grateful, just grateful to be the next mayor of our fine city -- Durham, North Carolina," O'Neal said. "Standing here with you tonight I am thinking of the many challenges and opportunities ahead. I'm truly motivated by how much we can and will accomplish when we all come and work together to make Durham a city that works for all of us."

Elaine O'Neal celebrated Tuesday night and mapped out a way forward for tomorrow.

She'll be sworn in as Durham mayor on Dec. 7.