Log in Newsletter


Bill Kirby Jr.: Challenger says City Council’s time is up


Jose Rodriguez is champing at the bit to be on the Fayetteville City Council.

He is bidding to unseat Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Keefe Jensen, who is in her fourth term representing District 1 neighborhoods in north Fayetteville such as King’s Grant, Kinwood, Kinwood by the River and College Lakes.

The council primary is scheduled for May 17.

Not soon enough for Rodriguez.

All of you have served past your elected term,” Rodriguez said Monday night when he called in during the City Council’s public forum at the FAST Transit Center. “Let’s have this election so we can get a new council in so we can pass a new budget.”

His call was a follow-up to an email that Rodriguez sent earlier to Mayor Mitch Colvin, Jensen and council members D.J. Haire, Johnny Dawkins, Larry Wright, Chris Davis, Antonio Jones, Courtney Banks-McLaughlin, Shakeyla Ingram and Yvonne Kinston.

“I am reaching out to all of you to request a proposal for a city resolution to move the Municipal Elections up to dates sooner than currently scheduled by the State of North Carolina,” Rodriguez wrote. “The COVID-19 crisis threw last year's redistricting and elections into complete confusion and chaos at the State and Federal level.

“... With that concluded, we as a city can go forward with the long-overdue Municipal Elections.  

"All of the current members of the Council, with one exception, were all elected for two-year terms,” Rodriguez wrote. “As of (the) date of this letter, everyone with the exception of Councilman Jones, will have exceeded their time in elected office without the consent of the governed. With no legal or civil issues conflicting, there is now no reason not to conduct our city's overdue elections. North Carolina General Statute 163-287  allows for municipalities to request and conduct special elections as needed with the authorization of the state.”

Rodriguez suggests that citywide primary elections be held sometime between April 16 and April 29 with the general election on May 17.

True, the mayor and the council are serving past their two-year terms that should have ended in December. That even goes for Antonio Jones, who was selected in January to serve out the District 3 seat held by Tisha Waddell, who resigned in November in a rift with the mayor and other council members over a number of what Waddell describes as suspect business negotiations, notably the city’s discussions with Bernhard Capital Partners, which wanted to take over the Fayetteville Public Works Commission.

The mayor says all of Waddell’s allegations are baseless.

Still, you can’t blame the mayor or council members for serving beyond their two-year terms.  

‘Council does not have authority’ 

Angie Amaro, interim director for the Cumberland County Board of Elections, and City Attorney Karen McDonald blame the delay on the census.

“It was originally the census,” McDonald says. “Then the state Supreme Court amended the date because of the redistricting maps.”

McDonald says special elections statutes only come into play as permitted by law.

“There is no law that permits a municipality to change the date of its elections,” McDonald says. “The municipal election dates are set by state statute. Thus, the City Council simply does not have that authority.”

The bottom line is that Rodriguez believes this City Council has worn out its welcome when it comes to governing this city.

He wonders about the council’s hunger for “power.”

He wonders about council members’ “sense of entitlement.”

And Rodriguez is not alone in his wondering about some council members with single-minded agendas and the bickering among themselves that has led to council censures of Dawkins and Ingram and a general consensus that some city residents have lost faith and trust in this governing body.

“This city is in dire need of fresh blood and ideas at City Hall,” Rodriguez says. “What the citizens should be asking is what do we do to get rid of these folks at our earliest convenience… Ultimately, the best way to hold politicians accountable is to vote them out of office. The longer the elections are delayed, the longer they get away with whatever shenanigans they do behind closed doors.” 


History likely will not judge this current council well.

Already, the incumbents have candidates to contend with in the campaign season ahead, including three who want the mayor’s gavel. All have competition with the exception of Yvonne Kinston. And more challengers may be in wait, as candidate filings resume at 8 a.m. on Feb. 24 and run through noon on March 4.

As for your champing at the bit, Mr. Rodriguez, there will be no early elections.

“The date of the primary is May 17,” says Amaro of the county elections board, “and the date of the general election will depend on the contest for a second primary, either July 5 or July 26.”

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.   

Column, Bill Kirby Jr., Fayetteville, City Council, municipal elections, primary