Durham residents speak out before annual State of the City address

Sean Coffey Image
Monday, April 17, 2023
Durham residents speak out before annual State of the City address
The State of the City address is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- On Monday, Durham Mayor Elaine O'Neal will deliver the annual State of the City address, reflecting on the past year and laying down priorities for the year ahead.

On the eve of the speech, Durham residents are speaking out about their priorities-- and what is and isn't working in the city.

"I hope that Mayor O'Neal is definitely listening and making sure that she's addressing needs of a lot of people that are here, and what our city stands for," said Susanna Ochola, a lifelong Durham resident.

Ochola says she's proud of the city's growth and business revitalization efforts, but said the city needs to do more to preserve Durham's innate character.

"It's really important to talk about the allure, and what brought people to Durham, and what keeps Durham "Durham", said Ochola. "And its in a place of rapid growth, but at the same time its in a place of pushing a lot of natives and locals out."

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Jessie Maxwell moved to the Bull City 15 years ago and agrees. She says with the city's growth comes the fear it will split apart, rather than integrate into a cohesive urban community.

"So you get a lot of money in, a lot of development in, you get a lot of apartments going up, condos going up," said Maxwell. "But where are we thinking about -- where's the affordable housing going to go, how are we going to have mixed use opportunities? How are we going to make sure Durham becomes a "one city" as opposed to two different cities?"

The Mayor's speech comes in the wake of two more deadly shootings in Durham over the weekend. Minister Paul Scott told ABC11 that grassroots efforts are the city's best chance to create progress when it comes to crime.

"I think any change in Durham is going to have to come from the people," he said. "The people in Durham are going to have to be the ones to step up, and make the change. Everyone can be part of the solution."

The State of the City address is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday.

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