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Recount confirms Mario Benavente as winner in District 3 City Council election

With defeat of incumbent, political newcomer joins 3 other new members


The Thursday recount produced the same result.

Political newcomer Mario Benavente’s win over incumbent Antonio Jones was verified Thursday in a Cumberland County Board of Elections recount of the vote for the District 3 Fayetteville City Council seat.

The result proved to be the same as the count from the Aug. 5 canvass, with Benavente maintaining his six-vote edge to defeat Jones, 1,016 votes to 1,010.  

“Zero votes changed for either candidate. It was exactly the same as the canvass,” said Bill Helms, the technology officer for the Board of Elections.

“We're glad to finally be at a point where we can move forward and start serving the community as the next City Council member for District 3,” Benavente said Thursday.

Benavente, 32, had said he was "very much" confident that the election result would stand.

This marks his first run for public office.

Jones, 48, did not respond to phone messages left Thursday.

With Benavente’s victory confirmed, the City Council will have four new members. Along with Benavente, the newcomers are Derrick Thompson, Brenda McNair and Deno Hondros.

The mayor and City Council members were scheduled to be sworn in later Thursday in an inauguration at Seabrook Auditorium on the campus of Fayetteville State University.

The ceremony was set to begin at 6 p.m.

The recount process took about 90 minutes, and neither Jones nor Benavente were at the elections office. Only elections board members were there, officials said.

Jones, who was appointed to the City Council in 2021, had requested a recount after the July 26 election. He was eligible to ask for a recount because of how close the tally was.

Each candidate picked up four votes apiece in the canvass.

For a nonstatewide vote in North Carolina, a candidate has the right to request a recount if the difference between the tally is not more than 1% of the total votes cast, according to the state recount law.

Benavente is a community organizer and legal professional who recently earned his law degree at N.C. Central University.

Jones is a pastor and real estate agent.

On Aug. 5, the elections board certified the overall 14,910 ballots that were cast in the election. That included 198 absentee ballots added during the canvass. A total of 24 provisional ballots were added the day before the canvass.

In all, 10,551 voters cast ballots on Election Day. An overall 4,137 ballots were cast during early voting.

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Fayetteville, City Council, elections, Mario Benavente