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Election 2022: City Council District 8

Fayetteville businessman challenging incumbent says police chief must go

Michael Pinkston, Courtney Banks-McLaughlin square off for council seat


Courtney Banks-McLaughlin says she is not a member of the Fayetteville City Council to represent only District 8.

“I look at the bigger picture,” Banks-McLaughlin said at a Greater Fayetteville Chamber candidates forum on June 30. “Not just District 8, but all of Fayetteville. I’m interested in sewer and stormwater and interested in public safety.”

During her first term, she has been passionate about the plight of the homeless.

“We’ve done so much for our community,” said the mother of five children. “And we’re just getting started.”

Michael Pinkston, a downtown businessman and Army veteran who is challenging Banks-McLaughlin for her seat, agrees with her that the city is on a progressive move.

Pinkston, 70, and his wife, Martha, own The Climbing Place, an indoor gym and events space. He has never held elected office.

“I have been lucky enough to see Fayetteville like the Greek mythological Phoenix rise from the ashes of strip clubs and bars on every corner to the vibrant and growing city it was meant to be,” says Pinkston. “I believe that the city of Fayetteville is well on the way of becoming one of North Carolina’s greatest cities. 

“But with that said, we are going to need a new and progressive kind of leadership,” he says. “We can no longer look to the past paradigms of city government to guide us into the future. Our City Council must set the tone and pace for progressive and innovative thinking that will carry Fayetteville into the future.

“You might call my politics futuristic, because if it's good for Fayetteville then it's going to be good for me,” Pinkston says. “A stagnant city is a dying city. And while Fayetteville is not stagnant, we can’t rest on our laurels. We must be vigilant and stay focused. Our citizens are counting on this.”

Banks-McLaughlin, who has lived in Fayetteville since 2009, has been a small business owner and a member of Lewis Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, according to the city’s website. She is married to Melvin McLaughlin, a veteran of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, and the mother of five children and grandmother of one.

City elections are July 26, but early voting is underway at the Cumberland County Board of Elections Office.

Election Q&A: Candidates for District 8 respond to questions from CityView TODAY.

District 8 includes the neighborhoods of Beaver Run, Bristol Park, Cliffdale Estates, Cliffdale West, Country Walk, Fairfield, Farmington, Farrington, Four Seasons, Hammond Hill on Fort Bragg, Harris Place, James Creek, Kings Mill, LaGrange, Lake Williams, Lancaster, Middle Creek, Montibello Nimmegen-Cherbourg on Fort Bragg, Parkers Ridge, Scotts Mill, Scotts Mill North, Springdale, Tunbridge, Village Hills and Westpoint.

While Banks-McLaughlin and Pinkston may agree on some city issues, they have stark differences on others. CityView TODAY asked the candidates about a number of issues facing the city, including crime, government transparency, homelessness, economic development and a plan to restructure how City Council members are elected. They were also asked what issues they think are most important.

Banks-McLaughlin did not respond to CityView TODAY’s questions, but she has voiced her opinions on some issues at community forums.


“Crime in our city is our No. 1 issue,” Pinkston says. “I am sorry to say this, but our city chief of police has to go. Not only has she failed the city, she has single-handily destroyed a once-fine Police Department. We will never get a handle on crime until we get rid of Gina Hawkins. While Hawkins may take the brunt of anger, we must also remember that it was City Council and the city manager who kept letting Hawkins get away with her abusive behavior. … The mayor and council are culpable in any and all action which Hawkins has committed against the city of Fayetteville.”

He questions the police chief’s decision to hold officers at bay on May 30, 2020, when protesters gathered downtown in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. Some businesses were looted, and the historic Market House was damaged in an arson attempt.

Pinkston further questions why 13 complaints filed by a former police officer and others in the Police Department were dismissed by the Fayetteville Ethics Commission.

“It's time to start over with new leadership from the top on down,” Pinkston says.

Banks-McLaughlin said at the chamber election forum that public safety is a concern.

Council transparency

Full disclosure in city government became an issue when former District 3 Councilwoman Tisha Waddell resigned in November, saying part of her reason was that Mayor Mitch Colvin and other council members were discussing the sale of the city-owned Fayetteville Public Works Commission with a private-equity firm in Louisiana.

CityView TODAY spent more than a month investigating the allegations. While the investigation found no evidence of corruption, it did find a lack of transparency on the part of Colvin and others.

“The problem is transparency has many layers and means different things to different people and groups,” Pinkston says. “As long as an issue is not immoral, unethical, illegal I will to the best of my ability be transparent in all my actions regardless of the outcome. As citizens, you have a right to know what is going on. This is your city, and you have a voice. As a councilman, I will use my voice for you and our city.”

Economic development

Banks-McLaughlin said at the chamber’s election forum that the city is progressing economically, but she did not respond to questions on the issue by CityView TODAY.

In his response, Pinkston says the city needs to do more to recruit industry.

“At best, I will become a seed planter,” Pinkston says. “I will work tirelessly to find the right fit for Fayetteville. For many years, I have never understood why we don't have an industrial military park that provides the military with everything from beans to bullets. If we could build a military industrial complex, we could provide thousands of jobs. We are starting to see some signs of growth with the new Amazon (facility). However, we need many more industries that call Fayetteville home.”


Pinkston says it’s time to get serious about homelessness.

“I have gone on record saying that it's time to stop talking and start digging,” he says. “I could fill a room with all the studies which have been done about the homeless problem. We do not need more studies. We need shovels to start digging. There will be problems, but if we never start to dig, the problem will just get bigger. As the next councilman of District 8, I would be glad to form a committee that get things done.”

Vote Yes Fayetteville

Banks-McLaughlin did not respond to CityView TODAY’s questions about a plan to change the voting structure for the City Council. But at the chamber forum, she was adamant that she opposes the change.

The Vote Yes Fayetteville initiative, which is expected to go before voters in a referendum in November, would change the City Council’s makeup from nine district seats to five district seats and four at-large seats.

The initiative is supported by former Mayors Nat Robertson and Tony Chavonne, the publisher of CityView TODAY. Other supporters include former City Council members Jim Arp, Wesley Meredith, Bobby Hurst, Ted Mohn and Wade Fowler.

“I am also here to gain support to vote against the Vote Yes referendum,” Banks-McLaughlin said at the forum. “I am asking for your support against the Vote Yes. This Vote Yes or yes vote is to continuously divide our city for individuals that do not want to see people of color or minorities making policy decisions for the city of Fayetteville. This yes vote is about race, power and control. This is an attempt to change the City Council's black majority and the administration structure of our city.”

Pinkston supports the initiative.

“Vote Yes Fayetteville is the catalyst that will take Fayetteville into the next stage of growth and development for Fayetteville,” he says. “We know for a fact that the principles of Vote Yes Fayetteville work. Just look at the school board, county commissioners, Spring Lake, and Hope Mills, all of which have at-large members on their councils.

“The only ones that I know that are against this proposal are sitting City Council members. And the reason for this is that each one has their own tiny box, and they are afraid of losing their box. Again, when elected, I will be the only one who is not afraid of losing a box, but would look forward to having a much larger constituency. … (That’s) just one of the benefits of Vote Yes Fayetteville.

The plan is the way forward to a “safer, stronger and vibrant Fayetteville,” Pinkston says.

“We will be following hundreds of other cities which have already adopted at-large members. I will not be stuck in the past,” he says.

Market House, Civil War center

Banks-McLaughlin in January voted against funding for repurposing the Market House and moving forward with a pledge of $7.5 million to help fund a proposed $80 million N.C. Civil War & Reconstruction History Center in the Haymount area off Arsenal Avenue.

“No, I think we have bigger issues,” Banks-McLaughlin said at the June 30 candidates forum. “Like homelessness.”

Pinkston said the history center is a worthy effort.

“I think it is a good project for the city,” he said at the chamber forum. “There’s no better place for this museum. It will bring truth and the story of the Civil War and emancipation. I think we should be proud to host it.”

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961. 

Fayetteville, elections, City Council, District 8, Courtney Banks-McLaughlin, Michael Pinkston