Mitch Colvin wants a fourth term as city mayor.
Efrain “Freddie” de la Cruz wants Colvin’s gavel.
Six incumbents want to remain on the Fayetteville City Council. Six challengers want council seats of their own.
They’ve planted their campaign signs, sent out their political mailers, knocked on the neighborhood doors, been to the Community Watch meetings and most have participated in the candidate forums.
There’s not much left to say.
Not much left to do.
Election Day is Tuesday, and now they wait for what you have to say at the ballot box.
There are 127,846 registered city voters, according to the Cumberland County Board of Elections, with 4,647 casting Early Voting ballots, including 691 Saturday. Only 10,751, or 8.41%, voted in the Oct. 10 primary.
City View Today reached out on Tuesday asking by email for each candidate to give city residents an indication of how they are feeling about their campaigns, respectively.
Colvin has been self-assured throughout his campaign.
“I feel we have presented a strong case to the voters of this city during this election that proven results and experience makes the difference,” Colvin, 50, says.
While the odds appear not to favor his opponent, de la Cruz remains steadfast in his mayoral quest.
“Yes, indeed, it has been a long political season,” says de la Cruz, 61, who is making his second bid for mayor after failing 15 months ago when Colvin earned 9,253 votes, or 62.74%, to de la Cruz’ 5,452 votes, or 36.97%.
The retired Army colonel trailed Colvin by nearly 40% in the Oct. 10 primary, with Colvin receiving 6,479 official votes, or 60.52%, while de la Cruz received 2,343 votes, or 21.89%. But de la Cruz has never wavered in his belief that this is a city heading in the wrong direction.
“I am feeling really good about the voter turnout for November 7,” he says. “I believe the people of Fayetteville are really tired of the lawlessness in the city with crime and the high murder rate, we got reckless driving going on our streets on a daily basis with no police lights anywhere in site. Looks like the Fayetteville City Council is lowering the bar from a ‘We Can Do City’ back to ‘Fayettenam.’
“If the people don't get out and vote to change the mayorship of Fayetteville this election, it will be an indication that people are happy with the current direction of Fayetteville.
“I have invested a lot in this campaign to give the people of Fayetteville the ‘opportunity’ for a change in mayorship,” de la Cruz says. “All I am asking from the people ... ‘Go vote!’ I am hopeful that the people who read this article will do their civic duty and ‘Go Vote’ for a change of mayorship. I invite people to go to FreddieforMayor.com, do your research, then ‘Go vote.’”
“I feel we have run a good and honest campaign, and hope that the residents of District 1 continue to hire me to do the job,” says Kathy Keefe Jensen, 56, who is bidding for her sixth council term.
Jensen’s opponent is Alex Jose Rodriguez.
He has challenged her once already and lost in his bid to represent north Fayetteville.
“I’m feeling cautiously optimistic,” Rodriquez, 47, says. “I’ve been walking neighborhoods and talking to a few folks out there. Most of them are tired of politics as usual at City Hall and want change. However, I see the early voting numbers and how weak they currently look. I’m hoping for a large turnout and wave come Tuesday.”
There are 11,579 registered voters in District 1, according to the Cumberland County Board of Elections.
Challenger Malik Davis, 28, is counting on his performance in the Oct. 10 primary that has buoyed his effort to unseat incumbent Shakelya Ingram, a two-term councilwoman.
“I feel pretty confident,” Davis says. “We have worked tirelessly to reach the community. We’ve worked the entire campaign starting back to February and March. My team and I have worked diligently throughout this campaign trail, and I feel confident about my chances to win District 2. Regardless of the outcome, I am proud about what we were able to achieve, especially being a newcomer in the political arena. This is not going to be the end, but this is just the beginning of bringing positive change to District 2 and the city of Fayetteville.”
Davis received 520 official votes, or 34.28%, in the Oct. 10 primary. Ingram, 33, had 319 votes, or 21.03%.
Ingram did not respond to the City View Today request for comment after multiple attempts throughout the week.
There are 16,105 registered voters in the district, according to the Cumberland County Board of Elections.
Mario Benavente, 33, is bidding for a second term with a confidence.
“I have been successful these last 15 months in meeting the demands and expectations of my neighbors,” he says. “I’m confident they’ll trust me with another term as their most zealous advocate.”
Not so fast, councilman, his opponent cautions.
“I feel very confident that I will win,” Michele Dillon, 60, says. “It’s time for a change.”
There are 14,357 registered voters in the district, according to the Cumberland County Board of Elections.
D.J. Haire, 64, is hoping to extend his service as the longest serving councilman in city government history with a 12th term.
“And I'm still so honored to serve,” he says. “I've never taken my residents for granted, I give them my all and they remember me during election seasons. My constituents and I have built a relationship on trust, dependability and getting things done together.”
Opponent Stuart Collick, 64, did not respond after multiple requests by City View Today.
There are 14,516 registered voters in the district, according to the Cumberland County Board of Elections.
There is no more of a hotly contested competition than in District 5 or what is known as old Fayetteville, where Lynne Bissette Greene has three-term incumbent Johnny Dawkins on the ropes for his local political life.
“I am optimistic for my chances on Tuesday,” Dawkins, 64, says. “My opponent’s false radio ads have damaged my character and reputation, so I’m counting on my reliable voters turning out in large numbers to re-elect me.”
Greene led the District 5 primary in October with 891 votes, or 46.62%. Dawkins had 680 votes, or 35.58%.
Greene has proven herself a fierce opponent.
Dawkins says she has lied that he has raised property taxes.
Municipal user fees are taxes, Greene says, depending on how you view them, and some residents agree.
“I feel good going into Tuesday,” Greene, 61, says. “I feel that I have done everything that I can do to reach and meet District 5 voters and hear their concerns. My team and I have spent our weekends in neighborhoods to meet voters and leave door-hangers. I have met with business owners to get their views on what needs to be fixed in our city. I have attended as many candidate forums and radio interviews as possible. I have blogged my thoughts on why we need change, and what we need to do to make things better. I have tried to contrast my views on current CART items such as retirement for council members vs. my opponent's view.
My team and I are still working to reach every possible voter. At this point, it will be a vote for ‘the same’ or ‘change.’”.
District 5 has become one of the more contentious races in recent City Council history.
There are 16,507 registered voters in the district, according to the Cumberland County Board of Elections.
Meanwhile, District 9 is a kinder and more gentle competition between freshman incumbent Deno Hondros and first-time contender Fredlisha Lansana.
“I respect Councilman Hondros' contribution to our community,” Lansana, 47, says. “As a graduate of social work and community service volunteer, my focus has always been on understanding the needs of our residents and advocating for their well-being. My experiences and perspective bring a unique voice to the table, and I trust the voters will decide based on the values and vision each of us presents. I’m dedicated to listening to and serving our community, regardless of the outcome.”
So, Hondros says, is he.
“If the good Lord believes that I have more to offer, and that I should continue to serve the citizens of District 9 and Fayetteville, there is not a thing in the world that can stop me,” Hondros, 47, says. “And if he believes I should be focusing my time and talents elsewhere, then there is not a single thing I can do to get there.
“The District 9 seat does not belong to me. It belongs to the citizens of District 9.
“As far as putting in the work, we rest easy at night knowing that we have put in a full day’s work,” he says. “As I said during last year’s campaign season, I am a servant, and as a servant, I shall continue to serve no matter the outcome of the election. The election will simply help determine what capacity I shall serve. I firmly believe everything happens for a reason, and I believe life plays out based on our free-will choices, and in accordance to his will.”
There are 14,480 registered voters in District 9, according to the Cumberland County Board of Elections.
Election night watch
There will be no Election Central headquarters like the old days, when candidates and residents once gathered at the Bordeaux Convention Center or later the Cumberland County Social Services building to eagerly await voting returns.
These days, we keep track via television news reports, print websites or on our laptops, iPads and iPhones.
Mitch Colvin and his supporters will be on the second floor of the old Kress building above the Hay Street Kitchen & Rooftop in anticipation of his fourth bid for mayor and sixth term on the council.
“It’s open to all candidates and the public to watch the results,” he says.
Efrain “Freddie” will be at his The Venue business on Fort Bragg Road with supporters and friends to include state Rep. Diane Wheatley, former state Rep. John Szoka, former Cumberland County commissioner and city councilwoman Juanita Gonzalez, campaign manager Nero B. Coleman, Up & Coming Weekly publisher Bill Bowman, Ron Ross, Max and Donna Recod, Larry Bond, Nina Morton, Jose Cardona and Judy Hawkins.
“I’ll be watching the returns from home,” Alex Jose Rodriquez says about the District 1 race. “If not out and about picking up my signs.”
Malik Davis says his team with gather at the Hay Street Kitchen & Rooftop downtown for the election returns.
Home will be the election night epicenter for Lynne Greene.
“My team and I plan to watch the returns from my home,” she says, “in District 5.”
Dawkins says he will be following the results online at his Haymount residence.
“We will be at home,” he says, “on Millan Drive,” also in District 5.
Residents in Hope Mills will be keeping a close eye on the mayoral race between Jackie Warner, who is seeking a seventh term against former town commissioner Jessie Bellflowers. There are 13 candidates vying for five Hope Mills commissioner seats, including eight challengers. And in Spring Lake, Mayor Kia Anthony is being challenged by former town alderwoman Fredricka Sutherland. There are nine candidates for five alderman seats, including four challengers to the incumbents.
As for us, your City View Today news team with be tracking the returns from the time the polls close at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to when the final precinct reports, with Executive Editor Bill Horner III, Managing Editor Maydha Devarajan and reporters Evey Weisblat and Char Morrison bringing you a roundup of all of the races.
De la Cruz says it right that this has been a long political season of local politics. And he’s right about going to the polls, no matter the candidate of your choice, to cast your vote.
Look for our City View Today election coverage Wednesday morning.
We’re on it for you.
Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-624-1961