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Durham elects Elaine O'Neal, Chapel Hill picks Pam Hemminger in mayoral elections

Elaine O'Neal Official Website, Town of Chapel Hill
With nearly 85% of the unofficial vote, Elaine O'Neal will become Durham's first Black woman to serve as mayor. In Chapel Hill, voters re-elected Mayor Pam Hemminger for a fourth term.

Durham and Chapel Hill were among the more than 500 cities and towns to hold local elections across North Carolina Tuesday.

With nearly 85% of the unofficial vote, Elaine O'Neal will become the first Black woman to serve as mayor of the Bull City. She is a former superior court judge and was dean of North Carolina Central University’s School of Law. Incumbent Mayor Steve Schewel decided not to run for a third term.

NC State Board of Elections

Durham City Council member Javiera Caballero, who was also running for mayor and was endorsed by Schewel, advanced from the October primary with far fewer votes than O'Neal, but ended her campaign last month. Her name remained on the ballot.

“From the beginning, I knew this campaign would be an uphill battle,” Caballero wrote in a statement in October. “I also knew I owed it to my community to stand up, to take one more step in making sure that our immigrant community in Durham feels seen.”

In Chapel Hill, voters re-elected Mayor Pam Hemminger for a fourth term in a three-way race that included Hongbin Gu, a Chapel Hill Town Council member, and Zachary Boyce, a University of North Carolina graduate student. Hemminger garnered 61% of the vote, according to unofficial election results from the North Carolina Board of Elections.

In Carrboro, Damon Seils, a member of the town council, won with a landslide 90.25% of votes.

In the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board race, voters rejected a well-financed candidate who was backed by high-profile Republicans both inside and outside of North Carolina. Meredith Pruitt outraised her opponents more than seven-to-one, according to the News & Observer. But she finished a distant fourth in the election, attracting less than seven percent of the vote.

Mayoral elections also took place in Holly Springs and Morrisville among other Triangle communities. In Holly Springs, Sean Mayefskie — who won nearly 61% of the vote — will take up the seat of retiring long-time Mayor Dick Sears. In Morrisville, incumbent TJ Cawley won re-election with just over 59%, based on unofficial results.

Voters across the state also elected scores of local candidates to city councils and boards of education.

Almost three dozen municipalities — including Raleigh, Greensboro, and Fayetteville — postponed local elections until next year because of a delay in getting 2020 census data needed to redraw district lines. Polls closed tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Full election results are available at the state board of elections Results Dashboard.

Laura Pellicer, Dave DeWitt and the Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Rusty Jacobs is WUNC's Voting and Election Integrity Reporter.
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