Ahead of the state’s primary election, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Young Democrats hosted Nida Allam, Durham county commissioner and a District 4 democratic candidate, for a town hall and voter registration event on April 22.
“It’s about time for young voices to have representation [in] one of the most diverse, most progressive districts in North Carolina,” Allam said during the town hall.
Co-hosted by Students for Nida, UNC Young Democrats and the Sunrise Movement, the town hall provided Allam an opportunity to talk directly to student voters, according to Campaign Fellow Claire Brennan, a first-year at UNC.
“[Allam] is a candidate that highly prioritizes the student vote,” Brennan said.
Her campaign has more than 40 youth volunteers, according to Campaign Manager Maya Handa.
Allam was elected to serve as Durham County Commissioner in 2020, becoming the first Muslim woman elected to public office in North Carolina. She also serves within the NC Democratic Party’s senior leadership and chairs the Durham Mayor’s Council for Women.
Allam is seeking to replace longtime Democratic Rep. David Price, who announced in October he would not seek reelection. For the first time in decades, there is a contested Democratic primary.
At the town hall, Allam opened her speech by recounting her path to political office. When she was a senior at North Carolina State University, her friends Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha were murdered by their neighbor “who hated them because they were Muslim,” according to Allam.
The Chapel Hill Police Department and local elected officials labeled the murders as a parking dispute without a proper investigation, Allam said. This inspired her to “look for change” and run for public office.
“We need an elected official and a representative who is going to actually invest in our youth and realize that their voices matter,” Allam told The Chronicle.
Supporting the Green New Deal is a pillar of Allam’s campaign platform. She believes young people have a particular interest in protecting the environment because “we are going to be the ones who are going to have to live with the ramifications if we don’t take action on climate change,” she told The Chronicle.
Allam also wants to ensure jobs in the district are accessible and guarantee a liveable wage. She hopes to “fight for a $23 minimum wage, consistent with the current cost of living in NC-04,” according to Allam’s website.
“The [state’s minimum wage of $7.25] right now is nowhere near that,” she told The Chronicle.
Allam, a North Carolina State University alum, told The Chronicle she wants to cancel student loan debt, which would lift “an entire generation of folks who are being burdened by student debt.” She said that young people cannot start families or invest in purchasing a home because of the burden of student loan debt.
“We need someone like me, who understands that we can’t just wait around for politicians to take action on gun violence and white supremacy,” Allam said during the town hall. “We need immigrants, people who have faced religious discrimination, to have a seat at the table.”
Allam encouraged all students to vote and have their “voice heard,” emphasizing the accessibility of early voting, which started on April 28.
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Kathryn Thomas is a Trinity sophomore and news editor of The Chronicle’s 118th volume.
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