DURHAM — In a light turnout, Durham voters set up a rematch of the 2011 race for mayor between incumbent Bill Bell and minister Sylvester Williams.
Unofficial returns in Tuesday’s city primary also put retired educator Eddie Davis and bail bondsman Omar Beasley on the Nov. 5 general-election ballot for the Ward 2 City Council seat.
Bell, running for his seventh consecutive two-year term, had 87.17 percent of the vote and Williams, 7.22 percent. Two years ago, Bell won in the general election with 82 percent of the vote to Williams’ 18 percent.
Political newcomer Michael Valentine finished last in the three-way mayoral primary, receiving 5.61 percent.
In Ward 2, Davis led the four-candidate field with 59.4 percent, with Beasley second at 21.57 percent. Financial adviser Del Mattioli and minister Franklin O. Hanes fell out of the running with 13.56 percent and 5.47 percent, respectively.
“I feel pretty good,” Davis said. “My heart is warm.”
Davis had been endorsed by the Durham People’s Alliance, the self-described “progressive” one of Durham’s three major political-action committees. The other two, the business-oriented Friends of Durham and the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, endorsed Beasley.
Mattioli, in her first try for elective office, was endorsed by retiring Councilman Howard Clement, who has held the Ward 2 seat since 1983.
Hanes was also in his first campaign, while Beasley and Davis had made one previous, unsuccessful, run each: Beasley for county commissioner in 2012; Davis for state Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2008.
Elections Director Michael Perry said Tuesday’s turnout was “kind of typical of a municipal primary.” Tuesday’s final 5.98 percent turnout was below the 2011 primary’s 8.83 percent, but above 2009’s 4.36 percent.
Tuesday’s top vote-getters will be on the November ballot along with two candidates in Ward 3, incumbent Don Moffitt and former County Commissioner Pam Karriker.
The Ward 1 incumbent, Mayor Pro Tem Cora Cole-McFadden, is unopposed for re-election.
The InterNeighborhood Council and League of Women Voters are sponsoring a forum for remaining mayor and Ward 2 candidates, and the two candidates in Ward 3, at 7 p.m. Oct. 15 in the Council Chamber, City Hall.