Editor's note: This story was updated to correct the contact information for Peter Pappas.
Two political newcomers are vying for an open seat on the Fayetteville City Council to represent District 6.
Businessman Peter Pappas says the city needs “mature, reasoned leadership.” Retired postal worker Derrick Thompson says quality of life should be “everyone’s top priority.”
The council seat was left open when Councilman Chris Davis ran for the Democratic nomination for the N.C. House to represent District 45. Davis finished second to Frances Jackson in the primary.
City voters will go to the polls on July 26 to choose a mayor and City Council members. Early voting is underway at the Cumberland County Board of Elections Office.
Pappas, 44, has owned and operated Baldinos restaurants for 24 years and is a commercial real-estate broker. He was raised in the Rayconda neighborhood of District 6 and has lived in Fayetteville his entire life. He attended Emory University in Atlanta.
Pappas served for two years on the Fayetteville-Cumberland Human Relations Commission. He is a fan of the Fayetteville Woodpeckers and Fayetteville Marksmen and attends Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church.
Pappas says he decided to run for office after watching City Council meetings regularly and being involved with the Human Relations Commission.
“I’m running for office because our city is woefully lacking in mature, reasoned leadership,” Pappas says. “As a citizen observing City Council meetings, I see members being disagreeable with one another or other members being unprepared to conduct business. This is unacceptable for a city our size. My neighbors and our residents deserve better.”
Thompson, 61, served in the Army for 20 years. He moved to Fayetteville in 2003 with his wife, Francine, and two children. The grandfather of two is retired from the U.S. Postal Service. Thompson attends Simon Temple AME Zion Church, where he is active in the food bank and is a class leader. He is also a board member for faith-based group Gateways Landings, which helps people dealing with substance abuse.
Thompson says that as president of the Rayconda Homeowners Association, he works with other communities in District 6 to address neighborhood issues. He says he is running for office because he is concerned about all of Fayetteville.
“I believe in equal and fair treatment regardless of your location and income,” Thompson says. “Safety and quality of life should be everyone's top priority. We need change and justice for all, not just politics.”
District 6 includes neighborhoods such as Rayconda, Aaron Lakes, Aaron Hills, Beaver Creek, Canterbury, Green Acres, Kingswood, Landsdowne, Preston, Westgate and Winter Park.
CityView TODAY asked Pappas and Thompson about a number of issues facing the city. They were also asked what issues they think are most important. Following is what they said.
Economic growth and affordable housing
Thompson says that growth in District 6 is stimulating a need for housing.
“The housing market is booming,” says Thompson. “We have growth on Dundle Road, and we are getting a new Publix. Along with the widening of Stoney Point Road and the Interstate 295 extension, there is a need for affordable housing.”
He says he plans to work for housing grants for nonprofit organizations to build infrastructure that would be affordable to low-income families.
Pappas agrees that the city needs more affordable, “workforce” housing. He thinks the city needs to look at revitalizing the Strickland Bridge Road corridor.
“By aligning code enforcement with policing and a little direct outreach to the citizens, I’d like to see that corridor cleaned up and enhanced,” says Pappas.
He says District 6 is experiencing the pains of traffic congestion that will be relieved with several projects the N.C. Department of Transportation is already working on. The district needs to continue to balance retail growth and single- and multifamily housing development, he says.
Pappas says a top priority is to refocus police strategies.
“All districts, including ours, need to refocus public-safety efforts. Our police are underpaid and lack opportunities to receive the training they need to safely conduct their jobs,” Pappas says.
If police officers were able to enforce minor violations like speeding, expired license tags, lack of vehicle insurance and petty theft, that would make it easier to combat crime related to illegal drugs and weapons, he says.
Thompson says the crime problems in District 6 include domestic violence, car break-ins and theft.
“The city has implemented the MicroNet grant program, the red-light camera program, and they have increased the number of hires within the Police Department. These steps taken by the city will help to reduce crime in the city of Fayetteville,” says Thompson.
Homeowner associations work at the grassroots level to keep residents up to date, says Thompson.
“We take care of our community,” he says.
Similarly, he thinks the city should do a better job of informing residents about issues including where and when to vote.
“The city can do a better job with using different platforms to keep residents informed,” says Thompson.
Pappas says the city does a good job getting information to the public but can always do better.
“There is absolutely room to improve. The council should consider an independent ethics commission,” says Pappas, referring to allegations of misconduct made by former Councilwoman Tisha Waddell when she resigned last year. “I don’t believe she is a fiction writer, and the bottom line is where there is smoke, there is fire.”
In her resignation letter, Waddell alleged corruption and unethical behavior by Mayor Mitch Colvin and some members of the council.
Pappas says council members need to earn the public’s trust with every interaction and every meeting.