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Election Q&A

Meet Fayetteville mayoral candidates Colvin, de la Cruz


Public safety and quality of life are key issues for both men in Fayetteville’s mayoral race.

Colvin, 49, served on the City Council for two terms, including a stint as mayor pro tem, before being elected mayor in 2017. He is president of Colvin Funeral Homes and Cremation.

De la Cruz, 60, is a political newcomer who served 32 years in the Army. He owns Venus Vogue Weddings and Formals, the Venue at Venus Vogue and Fayetteville Limousine Service. 

The municipal election is July 26. Early voting is underway at the Cumberland County Board of Elections Office.

CityView TODAY asked the candidates for City Council and mayor questions about several issues facing the community. Here are their answers.

Mitch Colvin

Age: 49

Occupation: President, Colvin Funeral Homes and Cremation

Elected offices held:  Two terms as mayor, two terms on the City Council

Colvin did not respond to the CityView TODAY questionnaire.

Efrain "Freddie" de la Cruz

Age: 60

Occupation: Retired Army lieutenant colonel, business owner

Elected offices held: None

Crime in the city continues to rise, according to a recent report on the first quarter of 2022 by Police Chief Gina Hawkins to the City Council. Are city officials — and specifically, the police chief and the Police Department — doing enough to address crime? If not, what should they do differently?

I want to be the mayor who will help create an environment of unity and to build a police force that will bring safety and security to the forefront of our citizenry. Our streets are dangerous because the Fayetteville Police Department lacks leadership and the police officers to patrol our streets. As your mayor, I will make filling police vacancies a priority. For example, our streets are being taken over by unruly drivers who are not being pulled over for exceeding speed limits, loud vehicles, and driving around with ATVs and motorcycles with no tags. Violators need to be pulled over, ticketed and given their day in court. Bottom line: Fill the police vacancies, and increase police patrols to deter crime; enforce the laws; and empower trained police officers to assist and interact with Community Watch groups. 

Record numbers of officers have left and are leaving our police force. Many are underpaid and feel they don’t have the support of their leaders. What is your plan to correct this serious issue?

My plan would include having the city manager outsource an agency to conduct a climate survey to find out what are the issues within the Police Department that need improving and focus on those areas. If necessary, replace the leadership within the city government with personnel who will empower police officers to enforce the law. Police officers are the No. 1 source to quality recruitment, and I attribute the lack of qualified police recruitment to the low morale within the Police Department. Empowering police officers to do their job, increasing police pay and benefits will be a priority to correct this serious issue. When you order a police officer to stand down while watching criminal behavior take place, you have essentially ordered a police officer to violate their sacred oath of office to protect people and property.

Affordable housing continues to be an issue for many in our community. The City Council decided to earmark part of its American Rescue Plan Act funding to address housing issues. What else can the city do to help residents find safe, affordable housing?

My plan would include renovating and repairing the vacant houses throughout Fayetteville. I would do this by offering landlords who don't have the capital to repair their property a low-interest loan, vs. a grant, to repair. If the city had not used the $3 million for the blue trash bins used for recycling, we could have offered landlords a 3% interest rate loan to repair or renovate the vacant homes and over 100 houses would be available for occupancy.

As part of the program, the city could cap the rental price at an affordable rate.

This program is a win-win situation for the city, the landlord and the future occupant. The landlord benefits from collecting rents and improving his property; the occupant has an affordable, nice and safe place to live in; and the city benefits by collecting 3% secured interest loan, improving area beautification, and as a result of the home improvements, the city gains additional ad valorem tax dollars that can be used for the Police Department.

A review of Fayetteville’s traffic stops shows they totaled over 70,000 in 2016 and less than 22,000 last year. There are still problems with speeding, red light violations and other traffic issues. Was there a conscious decision made to ban minor traffic stops, and if so by whom? Are you concerned about the decrease in stops and what should the city do about it?

I am not aware that there is a conscious decision made to ban minor traffic stops. I have heard that the more stops police make the more vulnerable they are to being shot. The mindset is the fewer stops made the more we protect our police officers. However, the police do need to increase patrols and focus on keeping our streets safe understanding there are risks involved. As a city, we cannot allow those who want to drive erratically on our roads to continue unpunished. 

Fayetteville has seen some economic news in recent months with the new Amazon distribution center and other business announcements. What does city leadership need to do to increase jobs in our community? What city resources need to be devoted to this cause?

The No. 1 item we need to do as a city is reduce crime so that more large corporations are encouraged to invest in a safe community. Offer tax incentives to encourage development and investment. Additionally, we need to help our labor force with housing and transportation needs. It is a vibrant labor force that produces the productivity of goods and services. The city resource we can use is the 473.75 acres of land (Pin 0419-55-7633; site address 915 Shaw Road) between Murchison Road, Highway 295 and Bragg Boulevard. I would propose we locate the Multi-Purpose Event Center and add an amusement and or a water park at that location. These projects would influence the hospitality industry to invest in and around that property.

Fayetteville, mayor, Mitch Colvin, Freddie de la Cruz, Q&A, elections