How Guillermo Nurse Made History

How Guillermo Nurse Made History As North Carolina’s First Latino Mayor and Oxford’s First Black Mayor

Guillermo Nurse made history in November 2023 when he was elected as the first Latino mayor of Oxford, North Carolina. Not only was Nurse the first Latino mayor in the state, but he also became Oxford’s first Black mayor, reflecting the city’s diverse and evolving leadership.

Nurse’s victory was a resounding one, as he secured 1,090 votes compared to his opponent Debbie Ramsey’s 461 votes. This decisive win showcased the community’s embrace of Nurse’s vision for the city.

Unifying a Divided Town: Nurse’s Commitment to Progress

As mayor, Guillermo Nurse has made it his driving force to unify the town of Oxford, which has long grappled with racial and economic divisions. Nurse, a native of Panama and a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, has a deep understanding of leadership and community-building.

“Everywhere I go I’m being told, ‘You are what Oxford needed.’ That warms my heart, makes me feel like I’m getting somewhere,” Nurse said. “That’s my driving force.”

Nurse’s background, both in the military and as a coach for the Panamanian national basketball team, has equipped him with the skills and experience to navigate the complexities of leading a diverse community like Oxford.

Confronting Oxford’s Painful Past

Nurse, alongside civil rights activist Eddie McCoy, is determined to address the town’s long-standing racial tensions, particularly the unresolved case of Henry Marrow, a Black man killed in 1970 after being accused of making a crude remark to a white woman.

The two white men accused of Marrow’s murder were acquitted by an all-white jury, leaving an open wound in the community.

“The Justice Department messed up,” Nurse said. “The city leaders went along with that. I think the city never gave a proclamation on that issue. That needs to be done. We need to recognize when a mistake was made, and move forward. They never recognized this man was assassinated.”

Nurse’s commitment to acknowledging and addressing the town’s painful past is seen as a critical step in the healing and unification process.

Building a Brighter Future for Oxford

Despite the lingering divisions, Nurse remains optimistic about the town’s potential. He has identified several areas of focus, including attracting new businesses, addressing the need for affordable housing, and improving the town’s infrastructure.

Nurse also plans to tackle issues such as the need for higher pay for police officers and the lack of support systems for the unhoused and those struggling with substance use disorders.

“Oxford is a small town on the rise,” Nurse said, pointing to the numerous new housing developments under construction and the recent uptick in home sales.

Nurse’s vision for Oxford extends beyond just physical growth; he aims to foster a sense of unity and community engagement, encouraging residents to participate in city commission meetings and public events.

A Groundbreaking Leader for a Changing North Carolina

Guillermo Nurse’s election as the first Latino mayor of North Carolina and Oxford’s first Black mayor is a significant milestone, not only for the town but for the state as a whole.

His commitment to addressing the town’s past, uniting its diverse community, and charting a course for sustainable growth and progress has earned him the trust and support of many Oxford residents.