Incumbent Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin easily won a fourth term Tuesday, defeating challenger Freddie de la Cruz in the city’s municipal election by getting 65% of the ballots cast.
Spring Lake Mayor Kia Anthony (61%) also easily won re-election to her seat, beating back challenger Fredricka Sutherland. And in Hope Mills, challenger Jessie Bellflowers narrowly beat incumbent Mayor Jackie Warner, winning by just under 6 percentage points.
In Fayetteville’s city council races, incumbents won four out of six contested races. In Dist. 2 and 5, challengers Malik Davis (65% of the vote) and Lynne Bissette Greene (60%) repeated primary wins over incumbents Shakeyla Ingram and Johnny Dawkins, respectively, and will join the board in December.
Voter turnout across Cumberland County, according to the N.C. State Board of Elections, was 13.3%.
In other races:
Spring Lake Aldermen: each of the town board’s five incumbent aldermen — Sona L. Cooper, Robyn Chadwick, Adrian Jones Thompson, Raul Palacios and Marvin Lackman — won another term.
Hope Mills Commissioners: four of the town’s five incumbents — Kenjuana McCray, Joanne Scarola, Jerry Legge and Grilley Mitchell — won return terms. They’ll be joined by Elyse Craver, who finished third in the race, on the board; incumbent Bryan A. Marley narrowly lost his seat, finishing just one vote behind Mitchell.
Fayetteville City Council: incumbents winning another term in contested races were Kathy Keefe Jensen (Dist. 1), Mario Benavente (Dist. 3) and D.J. Haire (Dist. 4). Derrick Thompson (Dist. 6), Brenda McNair (Dist. 7) and Courtney Banks-McLaughlin (Dist. 8) won as incumbents in uncontested races, while Deno Hondros was another term in Dist. 9, beating challenger Fredlisha Lansana.
Voter turnout across Cumberland County, according to the N.C. State Board of Elections, was 13.3%, just under the statewide average.
Here’s a breakdown:
CityView spoke with candidates in races in Fayetteville, Spring Lake and Hope Mills. Winners indicated in bold.
Colvin, who has served as Fayetteville’s mayor since 2017, won his reelection easily with 65% of the vote. Colvin thanked voters and his campaign team for their efforts.
“First, let me say thank you to the people of this city who entrusted me for a fourth term, and I won't let you down,” Colvin told CityView. “I'll work hard for you and thank all of my campaign team and everyone who believed in the vision that we have for the city. We're ready to work hard.”
De la Cruz said he had “no hard feelings” about not being chosen as Fayetteville's mayor and planned to turn his focus toward his family and businesses. (De la Cruz is the owner of several local businesses, including Venus Vogue Weddings and Formals, The Venue at Venus Vogue and Fayetteville Limousine Service.)
The retired veteran said he was going to take a break from politics for a while, but did not entirely rule out seeking the mayor’s office again.
“If I was going to be the mayor, I'd be a good mayor,” de la Cruz said. “I'd get things done. I know that. So now I'm just going to focus my energy now back into my family and my store and take a vacation that I haven't had in two years.”
Councilmember Kathy Jensen, who won her seat with 67% of the vote, will serve Fayetteville residents in her 6th term on the city council. She told CityView she was looking forward to the growth coming to her district.
“The growth in District 1 is just moving at light speed,” she said. “I'm very excited to be able to watch our economic growth here and all the challenges that are coming to us.”
Dist. 1 challenger Alex Rodriguez attributed his loss to the difference in resources spent on the election between his and Jensen’s campaigns, saying “whoever has the most money is going to win the race.”
“Fayetteville is going to get what it voted for,” Rodriguez said. “Things are going to continue to decline because that's the direction Fayetteville's headed.”
In a race that saw seven candidates compete in the primary, newcomer Malik Davis — who won that primary — beat incumbent Shakeyla Ingram, getting 65% of the vote.
“It is a privilege and an honor to serve the citizens of District 2,” Davis said. “I believe the change that they're looking for is now coming, and it's time to continue the work.”
“District 2 has so much to offer,” he continued. “And we have to make sure we're getting the work behind the scenes done so that we can offer more to the city.”
Ingram did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Mario Benavente, a first-time council member known for his strong stance on social justice issues, earned a second term with his victory Tuesday night. After first hearing the results from CityView, the freshman councilman said he was “feeling great” about winning re-election. He thanked his campaign team and constituents.
"We feel like the work that we put in throughout these 15 months really paid off and just really appreciate the confidence that the communities that I work for have in me to keep doing a good job for them,” Benavente said.
Benavente’s challenger, Dillon, won nearly a quarter of the vote; she said she was eager to continue participating in civic affairs despite her loss.
“I just wish him the best of luck,” Dillon said of Benavente. “I hope he won't think about himself and think about the community, but I will be back. I will be back.”
For his 12th term on city council, incumbent D.J. Haire said he hoped to continue to do what he’s been doing for his residents as a public servant.
“I want to continue to be on the front line for them,” Haire said. “That's what I have done and will continue to do for my residents.”
Challenger Stuart Collick did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Overtaking her incumbent by a wide margin, real estate agent Lynne Greene expressed gratitude for the Dist. 5 voters who secured her victory. Greene’s campaign has focused on supporting local businesses and improving public safety in Fayetteville.
“I'm honored that they had confidence in me to help make the city better,” Greene said. “And I'm looking forward to working with other city council members to make our city safe again and open for business. And I'm going to work really hard for my district and our city.”
Councilman Johnny Dawkins, a health insurance consultant, served his first two-year term on city council in 2003, when he was elected as the Dist. 9 representative. In 2017, he was elected to represent Dist. 5 and has held the seat since then. He thanked his constituents for supporting him over the years.
“It's been a privilege to serve the citizens of Fayetteville for eight years, and I appreciate all the work that my team put into this race,” Dawkins said. “I can't thank them enough for their time, their talent, and their treasure.”
Dawkins listed his major achievements on city council as supporting stormwater plans to prevent flooding in Fayetteville and rejecting property tax increases throughout his tenure.
After winning an uncontested race, Councilmember Derrick Thompson said he was thankful for the opportunity to bring “change, continuity, collaboration and improvement” to Fayetteville for a second term.
“I just want to continue with the pace that we're moving at to make Fayetteville a better city for all,” he said.
In her uncontested race, incumbent Councilmember Brenda McNair thanked voters for electing her to a second term on the council. The small-business owner said she was grateful to her constituents, ministry leaders and business owners for their support and engagement. McNair has also supported social justice issues and held public forums to solicit feedback from residents during her time on city council.
“My motto was to inform and empower — so that was my goal,” McNair said. “And I pretty much reached that goal throughout District 7 and beyond District 7. I went above and beyond to get information out that people wouldn't generally get and continue to do that. And I'm looking forward to working with them in my next two years even more.”
Councilmember Courtney Banks-McLaughlin told CityView she was excited to run in an uncontested race for her district.
“So that just gave me clarification that my constituents are happy with the results as far as me being on city council,” she said.
Councilmember Deno Hondros won his district easily, securing nearly twice the number of the votes as his competitor. Hondros, whose victory marks the councilman’’s second term, has been a strong proponent of building the city-county relationship.
“The District 9 seat doesn't belong to me; it belongs to District 9,” Hondros said. "I'm humbled that the voters deemed us worthy of a second term. And we'll enjoy this victory the rest of the evening and get a good night's rest, and in the morning, we'll roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
Despite the loss, challenger Fredlisha Lansana congratulated Hondros on his win.
“I want to thank the Lord, voters, volunteers, and family members who supported me,” she said in a text message. “I will continue to serve my community by fostering youth empowerment, homelessness support, supporting our educators and students, among other passions.”
Kia Anthony will serve another two-year term as mayor after defeating former alderwoman Fredricka Sutherland. Anthony, 42, received 61% of the vote, or 313 votes, compared with 39% of the vote, or 198 votes, for Sutherland.
“I am ecstatic that myself and the team get to continue the service that we started two years ago,” Anthony said. “We are ready, prepared and can’t wait to show the community what is coming.”
Sutherland, 62, said she wished Anthony the best and said she would continue to serve her community; she’s chairwoman of the Spring Lake Appearance and Sustainability Committee.
“I will still be involved,” Sutherland said. “We still need to hire a qualified town manager and finance staff.”
Board of Aldermen
All five incumbent aldermen were also re-elected to Spring Lake’s governing board, and expressed joy as a team as they sat together at Ruby Tuesday on election night in Spring Lake.
Mayor Pro Tem Robyn Chadwick, who was elected for a second term, thanked residents for their faith in her ability to lead.
“I am elated because there is still work to be done,” Chadwick said. “ ... I was really excited that the community saw the hard work that we put into progress and we want to continue what we started.”
The team sentiment resounded around the table as they celebrated the results.
“I am overjoyed that we get to continue to work as a team,” said Alderwoman Adrian Thompson, who won her second term.
Alderwoman Sona Cooper, who had the highest number of votes per unofficial election results, said she was happy to be back for two more years.
“We want to continue the upward trend that Spring Lake is on and I am so happy to work with this team,” Cooper said.
Aldermen Marvin Lackman and Raul Palacios echoed the sentiments of their fellow board members.
“The residents took a chance on this board two years ago and today chose to bring each of us back — our work is not done,” Lackman said, thanking his supporters.
In his response, Palacios pointed to the “new Spring Lake way,” which was a theme for the board retreat last year.
“The citizens sent a resounding message that they recognize and appreciate the efforts this board has made the last two years, replenishing our cash fund, restoring our pride in the town, and ultimately, bouncing back,” Palacios said. “And they want us to continue on this upward trajectory in the new, Spring Lake way.”
Four challengers for the board including Jackie Lee Jackson, Katrina Bell, Daniel Gerald and James O’Garra did not make the top five vote-getters.
Daniel Gerald, a former town manager who unsuccessfully ran for office, said he had not checked the results when called by CityView Tuesday evening. He said he was feeling under the weather and did not have a comment.
James O’Garra, 76, a former alderman, said he was disappointed in the results, but also wished the elected board the best of luck. He said he hopes to still be civically engaged and that he plans to continue to come to board meetings.
Jackie Lee Jackson, a former alderwoman, and Katrina Bratcher did not respond to requests for comment.
Jessie Bellflowers, 67, who served as a Hope Mills town commissioner from 2017 to 2021, defeated incumbent Mayor Jackie Warner by 82 votes.
“The results tonight represent everything that I’ve heard all day from citizens. They want change, they want a different direction in leadership, they want transparency, they want accountability, and they want to be heard from public input,” Bellflowers told CityView.
Warner, 73, said she was surprised by the results but wished Bellflowers the best and hoped he continues to do good things for the town.
“I feel like I’ve done a good job, I’ve worked hard,” Warner said. “It’s a little bit sad that it ended as it did, but at the same time, I’ve got other things I need to do and other things I’m involved with. I’ll just carry on doing things that will help the town, but not necessarily in the role that I’ve been in.”
Warner had been mayor of Hope Mills since 2011. She served as a commissioner from 2007 to 2009.
Board of Commissioners
Commissioner Kenjuana McCray, 45, was reelected with the most votes. She told CityView she was nervous on election night but was very appreciative to the people of Hope Mills for giving her another term.
“This is the third board I have worked with, and there have been different people on each board,” McCray said. “I look forward to working with them to help keep our community first.”
The board of commissioners also will see one new face this year: Elyse Craver was the only challenger to win a seat on the board, getting 9.51% of the vote. She previously served as a town commissioner in the 1980s, but said she was asked by several people to return and serve again.
Craver says she was excited to be back, especially as the only challenger who won a seat.
“I want to thank the citizens for putting their faith and trust in me, and I am going to do my best to do everything I can for this town,” she said.
Commissioner Joanne Scarola, 43, another incumbent, said she was humbled to be reelected with 9.56% of the vote and is excited to work with the new board.
“I have known Elyse Craver for years and I know Jessie Bellflowers from the VFW,” Scarola said. “So, I think we are going to work really well with each other.”
For incumbent Commissioner Jerry Legge, 80, this will be his last term. He has served on the board for 24 years and will retire after the next term ends. He said he was grateful for everyone who helped his campaign, including his daughter. He was elected onto the board with 544 votes, or 8.86% of the vote.
“I want to thank all of those who voted for us, not just me, but for the whole group of Hope Mill candidates,” Legge said.
Commissioner Grilley Mitchell, 67, will serve his second term on the board. He received 7.91% of the total vote, or 486 votes.
“I want to thank everyone that voted for me,” Mitchell said. “I am looking forward to serving the people and the community of Hope Mills for the next two years.”
Mitchell won the seat by a single vote, beating out incumbent Bryan Marley. Marley, 47, told CityView that he will not be requesting a recount.
“The citizens voted today, and the citizens spoke,” Marley said. “They chose the candidates of their choice.”
Among candidates who didn’t win was Deanna Rosario, 62, who sought election for the first time. Rosario serves as the stormwater program administrator for the town of Spring Lake.
“It was a great experience for my first run, and I’m looking forward to 2025,” Rosario said. “Thank you to everyone who put their trust and faith in me.”
Patrick Mitchell declined to comment, and Mark Hess, Ronald Starling, Pat Edwards, and Ronnie Strong did not respond to requests for comment.