‘What it means to be a progressive city’: meet Durham mayoral candidate Javiera Caballero


Javiera Caballero, Durham City At-Large Council member, is running for mayor in hopes of broadening Durham’s definition as a progressive city.

Caballero applied for mayor on August 13. In the weeks that followed, it got the endorsement of current Durham Mayor Steve Schewel, the Durham Association of Educators and the People’s Alliance.

Caballero was named the first member of Latina Durham City Council in January 2018.

As a board member, Caballero was a supporter of passing the largest affordable housing requirement in North Carolina history and creating the community safety service created to ensure the right response team is showing up in response to a 911 call. In 2019, she also helped start an immigrant legal defense fund – the state’s second – according to her campaign website.

Before Caballero became a member of the city council, she was an educator at the Montessori school, an education consultant and president of the Parents’ Association. She was also heavily involved in Durham Public Schools, where she tutored students while her children attended school there.

But deciding to run for mayor was a “big leap”.

“I’m a mom of three… so that was a huge question: is that something I can take on when I think about all the other responsibilities in my life? she said.

The answer to the question was “yes”.

“Over the past four years, the city under the leadership of Mayor Schewel has really expanded what it means to be a progressive city,” Caballero said.

She has been part of this effort as a board member and wants to make sure it continues.

Caballero runs a platform focused on affordable housing, community safety and sustainability. She plans to continue the progress of the Affordable Housing Bond by analyzing Durham’s land use and zoning policies to bring the cost of housing down to market prices.

It is also part of the community safety service’s ongoing efforts to find alternative solutions to problems that do not require a response from law enforcement.

“Even if it’s a mental health crisis, even if it’s just a fender-bender, you get an armed cop. It’s not necessarily always the right answer, ”Caballero said.

If elected mayor, Caballero wants to ensure that the work of the Community Safety Service – created in July – continues and that all 911 calls are answered with an appropriate responder, whether it is a firefighter or mental health professional.

Caballero also plans to continue implementing the city council’s resolution on global climate change by creating a fundable action plan for a just transition to carbon neutrality and 100% renewable energy in the city’s operations. by 2050.

Caballero ultimately wants to make sure it has solid, achievable goals for its platform.

“We can have a plan, but if it’s not implemented effectively, it doesn’t really matter,” she said.

The importance of communication with policy makers, experts and Durhamites is not lost on Caballero. When setting up the Immigrant Legal Defense Fund, she made sure to speak with immigration lawyers and immigrant advocates before communicating her ideas to her fellow council members.

“It’s a two-part process,” Caballero said. “First you have to do the work in the community that is affected or knows… and then you have to do the work with your colleagues so that they know why this is important to you and what the results you hope will be. “

Caballero “feels good” about all the support she has received, but said it will still be a race to the general election. She plans to work hard and be ready to answer any questions the Durhamites might have.

“This is the goal of the campaign,” she said.

But elected or not, Caballero is committed to continuing to work to improve Durham.

“I will do the job whether I am elected mayor or sit on the council,” she said. “It doesn’t stop for me.”

Katie tan

Katie Tan is a sophomore at Trinity and editor of The Chronicle’s 117th volume.


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