New Durham mayor Leonardo Williams delivers ‘robust and ambitious’ plan for Bull City

New Durham mayor Leonardo Williams delivers 'robust and ambitious' plan for Bull City

In his inaugural news conference as Durham’s mayor, Leonardo “Leo” Williams outlined his key priorities for the city, emphasizing a commitment to community-centric initiatives. Flanked by Mayor Pro Tem Mark-Anthony Middleton, Councilwoman Javiera Caballero, and other members, Williams identified his top three priorities as economic development, workforce development, and community development. While details remain undisclosed at this early stage, Williams stressed that the priorities would be both robust and ambitious, reflecting the spirit of Durham.

Addressing the recent decision by city councilmembers to reject the renewal of the ShotSpotter technology contract, Williams acknowledged receiving messages from residents concerned about the discontinuation of the technology. He expressed his belief in the positive impact of technology on community safety and lamented its removal, citing it as a potential setback in addressing residents’ lived experiences.

In terms of economic development, Williams articulated his vision for enhancing the city’s marketability and branding to attract tourism dollars. He expressed optimism about the prospect of a new convention center, emphasizing its potential as a crucial economic driver. Williams also highlighted the importance of strong relationships with employers and Research Triangle Park to bolster talent attraction and retention in the workforce.

Regarding community development, Williams stressed the need for collaboration with local figures such as Duke head basketball coach Jon Scheyer and NC Central head basketball coach LeVelle Moton. He emphasized leveraging their personal relationships to engage youth and create holistic and ambitious approaches to address societal challenges. Williams identified youth and young ethnic minorities as demographics deserving of increased investment, noting that grants have been secured to support these efforts.

While anticipating potential opposition to his plans, Williams underscored the democratic process and the importance of civil discourse in fostering a variety of perspectives. He emphasized the messy yet productive nature of democracy, acknowledging that disagreements may arise but expressing confidence in the ability to have civil conversations. Williams concluded by highlighting the collective effort required to shape Durham’s future, emphasizing the significance of engaging with diverse perspectives in the democratic process.