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Why you should run for office as an independent in Durham in 2023

5 min read
Jack Nagel · Feb 3, 2023


Running for office is a challenging but immensely rewarding experience. This year is an especially great time to run for office in Durham.

This city has gone through a ton of changes in the last few decades. If you’re ready to go already, let’s talk about your potential campaign and how can help. But if you’re just thinking about it, here’s the state of play, why you should reconsider a run, and why Durham needs good independent candidates:

The opportunity

This year, you will have the opportunity to run for one of four open seats in Durham. These include the mayor, who serves as the city council president, and three open city council seats that serve city-wide.

These seats are wide open, so they're winnable for an independent who doesn't have support from a major party--but that makes things more difficult because voters won't know who they're voting for on Election Day unless they've heard about you before. That’s where comes in – we can help you get the word out for free.

Why Good, Independent candidates can win

Durham is the youngest city in North Carolina, making it ripe for a new generation of leaders to take control of city hall. The median age of Durham residents is 34 years old, and 30% of the population is between 18 and 34 years old. Young people aren't just the future; they're also one of America's most loudly independent coalitions in this country: over 40% don't affiliate with either major political party. 

None of Durham’s city council members are under 40. Combine that wtih the demographics of the city and you get a situation where a new independent alternative can come in and shock the field. It also helps that city council elections are non-partisan, so on paper you aren’t competing against the major parties, but in practice you’ll be a breath of fresh air.

Furthermore, over 35% of Durhamites are registered as independents and the university population is predisposed to identifying as politically independent. This presents the option for you to reach an audience of voters that are ready for a new option and position yourself as a results-oriented candidate that is not beholden to the two-party system.

Why Good, Independent candidates need to run

The city council in Durham has tremendous power to do a lot of good. With a nearly $600 million budget and the council’s full control of it, independents within Durham’s city government are well-positioned to have a huge impact. Durham also has a strong council system, as the mayor has few executive duties compared to other cities of similar size. In addition to controlling the budget, the council manages contracts, approves large projects, and appoints a city manager (who is responsible for day-to-day operations), attorney, and clerk--all positions that oversee much of municipal business in Durham County.

In spite of the power of the city council and a consistently growing budget, reforms to how the basic needs of citizens are met are not happening fast enough. There is much more work to be done. A greater percentage of Durhamites live below the poverty line than the national average, and gentrification has led to rising rents and a lack of affordable housing options. Recent huge permits have been rejected by the city council with no concrete plan to address this issue. A two-bedroom apartment costs $1400 per month on average -- far too high for our increasingly younger population and working families that support our city.

Crime has also not been adequately addressed by the council; 96 shootings have occurred this year already.

Despite these challenges, Durham is frequently a top city in America to live and work. The population is growing as more and more people pursue the high quality of life and economic opportunities that can be found in the city. Durham needs new leaders who will bring fresh perspectives and a commitment to put the issues and needs of ALL Durham residents first and foremost in order to build a stable, equitable, and prosperous future.

The salary is solid and it's (technically) a part-time job

The salary is pretty good -- $39,438 a year for the mayor, $35,200 for council members. That's compared to the average Durham household income of around $67k. This is an opportunity to learn about running for office and serving in local government while also getting paid enough to supplement your full-time employment.

There are also only 4 council meetings per month, technically making this a part-time job. It’s still a huge commitment, but if you have another job already and can swing it, then this can be a great way to get involved.'s here to help is not a political party, but a tech company that helps good independent and 3rd party candidates run for office and win. We provide expert knowledge and campaign tools for candidates for free. If you're considering a run for office, already running or just want to learn more book a time with our team hereared-alper/intro-meeting..


If you're passionate about politics and want to see change in Durham, we encourage you to run for office. We know it can be intimidating at first, but with our help, there are many ways that you can get started today. If you have any questions or would like more information about how can help your campaign, please don't hesitate to contact us!


Independent Candidates
How to Run for Office
By Jack Nagel
I lead the marketing team at Good Party. After watching Bernie Sanders get squashed by the Democrat party twice, I knew I needed to get involved in giving outsiders a chance in American politics. I bring entrepreneurship and startup experience to our insurgent team at Good Party, helping us find sustainable ways to grow.