Durham City Council’s Mark-Anthony Middleton seeks structural change in re-election bid

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Mark-Anthony Middleton is proposing several policy reforms focused on equitable development, diversity and poverty reduction in his candidacy for re-election as Durham City Council representative in Ward II.

“As an elected official, I am a brand ambassador for the City of Durham. All the wonderful things that are happening in our city, I believe it, I proclaim it and I represent it, not only here but across the country, ”said Middleton.

One of Middleton’s top priorities is to reduce gun violence in Durham.

“But there is another story about Durham, and that is that many nights, many children, especially black and brown children, jump in tubs to dodge the shots,” he said. he continued. “No matter how many great things we have going on here in Durham, they all depend on a heartbeat. You have to be alive to participate.

Middleton argued for a multifaceted and comprehensive approach to gun violence. He called for short-term tactical solutions such as gunshot detection technology that would send help without the need for a 911 call, a technology that some community members and others support. council members expressed reservations about unreliable results. Middleton also believes in police reorganization and investing in social programs.

“We need a police service that police according to our values, whose posture and deployment are not based on [a] warrior [mentality], but based on [a] servant [mentality]”said Middleton.

During his first term, Middleton worked with his colleagues to allocate around $ 1 million for the expansion of Bull City United, a program that used the Interruption of Violence model to tackle gun violence, by se focusing on direct non-police intervention. Data released on the program shows that between 2016 and 2018, the total number of shooting incidents in the two target areas fell from 85 to 61, a decrease of 28%, and the number of people shot fell from 46 to 22, a decrease of 52%.

Middleton also stresses the importance of addressing the root causes of gun violence. He hopes to implement a guaranteed minimum income, a relatively new idea that would reduce and ultimately eliminate poverty.

If re-elected, Middleton “will seek to codify guaranteed income and become a national ambassador for it.”

“We don’t give away exotic cars or large mansions. It’s basically us as a society saying there’s a line we won’t allow you to fall under by virtue of you, by virtue of your humanity and by virtue of your citizenship, ”Middleton said. “When people don’t do the creative math on how they’re going to feed their kids or pay their bills, it makes better neighbors, when people don’t have to find creative ways to do things that a lot of. between us take for granted. In addition, it is a permanent stimulus for our economy: this money is returned and spent.

While Middleton is keen to see this program eventually implemented federally, a pilot guaranteed income program is already materializing in Durham. Middleton worked with the mayor and other members of city council to raise money for the program in addition to a donation of $ 500,000 from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and $ 119,000 from the city fund.

The program, named Excel, is administered by StepUp Durham, a non-profit organization. As of December, 115 former incarcerated people will receive a monthly check for $ 500.

Middleton also has plans to address other issues facing the community of Durham.

With Apple and Google announcing plans to build campuses in the Triangle, Middleton believes gentrification is a huge problem.

“We have a legacy, long-standing historic neighborhoods and dirt disappearing before our eyes,” Middleton said. He said prices in the area would rise with taxes, forcing people on fixed incomes to sell their property to developers who would send it back for much more money.

“What can we do? Well, one of the things I am proposing is a Marshall Plan type investment in these historic neighborhoods to preserve them through low interest or no interest loans or grants,” Middleton said. The Marshall Plan was an economic stimulus package in the United States that sent billions of dollars to Europe after World War II to help the continent rebuild itself.

Middleton also advocates for several other tools to fight gentrification, such as extending the neighborhood protection overlay, encouraging financial literacy and wealth creation, and promoting shared economic prosperity through to a guaranteed income.

On public transport, Middleton supports the continuation of the free model that was implemented in response to COVID-19. He also wants well-paid drivers, extended routes and good deadlines.

“I encourage Duke students and people who live in the city who are well off and have cars to find the nearest bus route and give it a try. One of the things we need to do is de-stigmatize the bus line and public transport here in Durham, ”Middleton said.

Middleton will also continue to push for the use of city properties to build affordable housing, seek to build bridges between the growing immigrant population in Durham, and implement more CROWN-like resolutions to protect rights. workers and make Durham fully competitive in terms of wages and benefits for its workers.

Prior to serving his first term, Middleton was part of the governing body of Durham congregations, associations and neighborhoods, which works on issues of police reform, affordable housing and immigrant support. He was persuaded by those around him to run for his current seat in Ward II after the incumbent decided not to stand for re-election.

“A lot of what I want to do is continue to build on the work I did in the first four years,” Middleton said. “I ask permission from the residents of Durham City and the Duke students who vote here as well to continue to do so.”

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