Winston-Salem’s Northeast Ward Councilmember Barbara Hanes Burke announced her re-election campaign at noon on Thursday on the steps of City Hall surrounded by community leaders, friends and family. Burke first won her seat in November 2020.

In her first term, Burke said, she and her team have “achieved significant strides.”

Burke has been behind many city projects. In September, city councilmembers approved the financing of 216-unit multi-family rental development that will be developed in her ward. She also worked to repave roads and clean up sidewalks in her ward, she said. Burke hosted a gun violence briefing in February and partnered with the Winston-Salem Police Department to hold a gun buyback event in November 2021 in an effort to keep weapons off city streets.

“Although a lot has been accomplished in just three years, there’s still so much work to do.”

That’s why she’s running for re-election, Burke said.

“With so much progress in the rearview, I am as committed as ever and ready to continue to serve the people in the Northeast Ward,” Burke stated, adding: “To all of my constituents, you can be certain that I will always serve you with integrity you can count on and results that you can see.”

Barbara Burke announces her run for re-election (photo by Gale Melcher)

Burke served on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board, most recently serving as the vice-chair until she was elected to council in 2020. She is also a former teacher and administrator for Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools and former adjunct instructor for both Winston-Salem State University and Forsyth Technical Community College. 

Her name remains familiar to many in the city because she is the daughter-in-law of former Northeast Ward Councilmember Vivian Burke, who represented the Northeast Ward for more than 40 years.

During the primary election in March 2020, Burke rallied the Northeast Ward’s support with 57 percent of the vote, defeating challengers Morticia “Tee-Tee” Parmon and Keith King. Parmon served the remainder of Vivian Burke’s term after the long-time councilmember’s passing in May 2020.

Burke ran unopposed in the general election, garnering 84 percent of the votes with 9,139 votes. Paula McCoy, a write-in candidate, received 1,162 votes for nearly 11 percent of the vote. The last five percent of the vote went to other write-in candidates.

Bishop Sir Walter Mack of Union Baptist Church said that Burke is “one of the most persistent councilpersons we have.”

“Many of us standing here today; we don’t live in her ward.” But Burke “represents the entire city of Winston-Salem,” Mack said. While she represents the Northeast ward, the “entire city is in her heart,” Mack said.

Burke has been a champion for tackling the city’s crises from gun violence to housing issues, and often speaks up during council meetings. In an interview with Triad City Beat on Thursday, Burke explained what inspires her efforts.

“I care, plain and simple,” Burke said.

And she wants to give back to her community. “To whom much is given, much is expected,” she added.

Burke said on Thursday that she’s focused on adding amenities to her ward. She explained that there’s a food desert and lack of walk-in health clinics in the area, “amenities that many of our residents have to get in the car and drive to another section of the ward to receive, or to another side of town.”

Overall, she wants to “make the Northeast Ward a better, safer, more aesthetically-appealing community and ward to live in.”

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