Battle of the Letters (edit: added 2/9 letter)

Bull City Political Nerd
Feb 2 · 3 min read
Steve Unruhe (left) and Alexandra Valladares (right)


Steve Unruhe is the incumbent for the seat in question.

Current candidates for the at large seat are:

  • Paula Januzzi-Godfrey
  • Alexandra Valladares
  • Steve Unrhue

In a recent meeting the Durham People’s Alliance, a local political action committee held an endorsement meeting and chose by majority vote Alexandra Valladares. Unruhe had strong support from many members of the school board and many leaders in the Durham Association of Educators. The vote count showed the clear division.

The letter to start letters

On January 27, a letter started circulating amongst many PA members who strongly supported Unruhe. To sum things up, the letter (attached below) made the argument that Durham Public Schools has made progress with Unrhue on the board. The signatories believe Unruhe has the experience to continue that progress.

(We am not sure if the below account is the initial post, but this was the first social media entry we saw, so it is linked below)

The letter that started it all


As the above letter started circulating, supporters of Valladares felt the initial letter undermined the People’s Alliance endorsed candidate and decided to circulate a response letter. The letter below highlights Valladares’ experience, but also the fact she would allow for Latino representation on the school board where there currently is none, despite DPS being roughly 33% Latino.

(Disclosure: The owner of Bull City Political Nerd is a signatory on the below letter)

Mobile users, click here for full text.

Response to initial letter


The People’s Alliance on Saturday published a reiteration of their strong support for the candidate that captured a majority members present and voting, perhaps for the first time in their history.

Reaffirmation from the People’s Alliance

The Battle Escalates (2/9 update!)

The Durham Association of Educators, the group representing Durham teachers has released a strong letter on 2/9.

The letter seems to imply Alexandra Valladares is hard to work with (without evidence that led them to that assessment) and that Unruhe works well with the current board.

It is also noteworthy that the letter makes no mention of Paula Januzzi-Godfrey, who is also running for the same seat.

We have two strong anti-racist candidates running for DPS School Board: Steve Unruhe and Alexandra Valladares.

Steve believes in being collaborative and building consensus among fellow school board members and having buy-in from community stakeholders to move policies and programs that will benefit all our students in Durham Public Schools.

Alexandra is openly anti-block voting and believes in the sovereignty of the individual actor to create the necessary changes for our students to be successful in DPS. Her approach suggests a belief that by acting individually and calling attention to a problem, she can win transformative change for our students.

Acting as an individual rarely creates the transformational change that is needed to ensure the success of all children. It takes four board members to win a vote, but it takes a unified and cohesive board of seven to effectively move DPS forward. Steve is accountable. He knows that he cannot act individually to get things done. He understands that collaboration is the most effective approach to building consensus among various groups of people.

Steve has helped to facilitate some major wins for our school district, such as the hiring of Dr. Mubenga as our superintendent, increased funding from Durham County, the approval of a cohesive strategic plan and stronger governance and transparency of DPS’s finances.

The Durham Association Educators strongly endorses Steve Unruhe for DPS School Board.


Durham Association of Educators (DAE)

Board of Directors

Take Away

Buckle your seatbelts! Each local election cycle seems to have even more passion than the previous cycle. Durham politics are not at all boring!

Updated take away 2/9: and when you think it is over, it is far from over!

Bull City Political Nerd

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