DURHAM -- Durham's outgoing mayor is wrapping up his final weeks in office.
He sat down with Spectrum News to reflect on his 16 years as mayor.
The 76-year old will leave politics behind after more than 40 years in the arena. He entered the political world in 1972 as a Durham County commissioner. Voters first elected him as mayor in 2001.
“It's been pretty much my life. I hope to do now is to spend more time [with family], we have six grandkids, all of them in Durham. I want to spend quality time with them,” said Bell.
Many credit his administration with transforming Durham. The city known to many for crime, is now becoming a tourist destination with trendy hotels and restaurants.
Several downtown apartments are under construction, including downtown's tallest building, One City Center.
Bell says he's proud of his administration for increasing affordable housing and turning the Bull City into a tourist destination.
But Durham still has its challenge. Many have filled the streets protesting the police, jail conditions, and confederate statues. The mayor says other issues still plague the city.
“Despite the resources in our community, we have far too level of poverty in our community. The issue of crime comes in cycles,” said Bell.
But Bell is confident the new Mayor-elect, Steve Schewel, will continue the path forward.
“If I could be of assistance, I'll do that. But I'm certainly going to put myself in the space of you need to this, you need to do that.”
He continued: “What I hope is that we develop a strategic plan and I would hope that would be the first order of business that the council will sit down and look at what the strategic plan is, because it sort of sets the vision for Durham both tactfully, short-term and strategically long term,” said Bell.
Mayor Bell's last day in office will be December 4.