Durham's first Black female mayor wants to tackle crime and affordable housing in the city

Wednesday, December 8, 2021
Crime, affordable housing top priorities for Durham's new mayor
In her first public statement since becoming mayor, Elaine O'Neal said her top priorities are safety and affordable housing.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham's new mayor is asking the community for patience and input as she tackles some of the city's biggest kitchen table issues

Elaine O'Neal became Durham's first Black female mayor when she took the oath of office earlier this week. Now she's setting her sights on improving the city.

O'Neal said her top priorities are safety and affordable housing.

She started her first mayoral news conference by presenting some disturbing crime stats. She said approximately 44 people have died from violent crime in Durham in 2021 and around 200 people have been shot.

WATCH: Elaine O'Neal talks about her vision for the city

In her first press conference, Elaine O'Neal spoke about her transition into the mayor's office in Durham and the goals she had for the city's future.

She said more officers are needed to fill the high number of vacancies in the force. To help lure more officers and ensure the good officers currently employed with the city remain, O'Neal called for an increase in pay for law enforcement officers.

As for Affordable Housing, she wants feedback from the community.

"I have spoken with officials at Duke University, we'll be speaking with officials at NC Central University and we hope to provide a tool, a survey of some type to help us quantify that. We cannot put that on the back of our city officials. That needs to be neighborhood-driven. We must get those numbers from our neighborhoods," O'Neal said.

There's no specific timetable on when that survey will be rolled out.

I'm going to ask you as Durham residents to look at your neighborhoods. Make the invisible visible," O'Neal said. "I need you to see your numbers to help us quantify what it is that we need in several arenas. Affordable housing would be one."