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Bill Kirby Jr.: City Council candidates to begin general election run at Greater Fayetteville Chamber forum

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Mayor Mitch Colvin and challenger Efrain “Freddie” de la Cruz will be among Fayetteville City Council candidates pitching campaign messages as part of a Greater Fayetteville Chamber candidates forum scheduled from 8 to 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Crown Coliseum ballroom. “The moderator will be Henry Tyson, the incoming chair of the Government Relations Committee for the Greater Fayetteville Chamber,” says Jami McLaughlin, director of events and programs for the chamber. Other candidates bringing their messages and fielding questions at the forum will be incumbent Kathy Keefe Jensen taking on Jose Alejandro Rodriguez in District 1; incumbent Shakeyla Ingram going up against challenger Malik Davis in District 2; incumbent Mario Benavente versus Michele Dillon in District 3; incumbent D.J. Haire versus Stuart Alan Collick in District 4; incumbent Johnny Dawkins versus Lynne B. Greene in District 5; and incumbent Deno Hondros versus Fredlisha R. Lansana in District 9. Media representatives from CityView, the Fayetteville Press, and Up and Coming Weekly will pose questions to the candidates.

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If you miss the Greater Fayetteville Chamber candidates forum on Wednesday, you’ll have another chance Thursday, when candidates in general elections throughout Cumberland County will be among those attending the Gray’s Creek Woman’s Club Buffet & Bazaar from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  in the Gray’s Creek Community Building, 3024 School Road, Hope Mills. “Local politicians have always been a part of ‘Buffet Day,’” says Joy Cannady, president of the Gray’s Creek Woman’s Club. “The buffet is an excellent venue for area politicians to meet local constituents while enjoying a great meal.” When there is a general election in the offing, candidates know the club’s buffet and bazaar is the place to be. Look for incumbents and challengers from Fayetteville, Eastover, Falcon, Godwin, Hope Mills, Linden, Spring Lake, Stedman and Wade to be on hand to pitch their respective campaign messages.

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Mayor Mitch Colvin scored a resounding victory in Tuesday’s mayoral primary with 6,472 unofficial votes, or 60.55%, in turning back three other challengers. “I’m thankful as can be for the support, but there is still a long way to go,” says Colvin, 50, who is bidding for a fourth term. “But it affirms what is going on in the city and what I’ve done. The message is they want us to keep the course. For the most part, people feel positive where we’re headed.” Colvin will face challenger Efrain “Freddie” de la Cruz, who had 2,339 unofficial votes, or 21.88%, in the Nov. 7 general election.

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Despite the voting disparity between Efrain “Freddie” de la Cruz and Mayor Mitch Colvin in Tuesday’s primary, de la Cruz isn’t giving up on his bid for the mayor’s gavel. “I will continue to pray that if it is God's will I be mayor, that he opens the hearts of the people to go to the polls and vote for Freddie, and I’ll  continue to reach out to the people with every means possible to deliver my message of unity, public safety, integrity and transparency for all the people in Fayetteville,” de la Cruz tells CityView. “Our city and county are not working together, and we need a mayor who will humble himself to build a bridge between the City Council and county commissioners to get things done for the same constituency. There’s a great divide between the people in our city that I want to help mend. Our youth crime, murder rate and homelessness continue to rise due to complacency and the lack of collaboration between the city and county. My pledge to the people is to be accountable, fair, honest and transparent.” You can’t argue with what de la Cruz believes.

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“I'm very excited that District 2 voters came out and voted and showed up,” Malik Davis, 28, says about leading Tuesday’s primary ticket in his bid to unseat two-term incumbent Shakeyla Ingram for the District 2 seat on the Fayetteville City Council.  “It shows that they are ready for change. Although I am excited about the turnout, the work is not done. I will continue to work hard to show District 2 why I’m the best candidate. This was just one victory to lead to the final victory. This is not the time to get distracted, but it’s time to push the gas harder. I am honored that the voters see something in me that makes them want to vote for me to be their representative. That’s great, but it lets me know that I have to continue to build trust with my constituents in my district even past November to let them know I have their back.” Davis, who is vice president of Cumberland County Young Democrats, garnered 520 unofficial votes, or 34.30% of primary ballots cast in District 2, while Ingram had 319 unofficial votes, or 21.04%. Davis and Ingram will square off in the Nov. 7 general election.

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Shakeyla Ingram is one of those City Council issues in that the 33-year-old District 2 councilwoman too often is unresponsive to media inquiries. She did not respond to Wednesday or Thursday email inquiries from CityView about how she will go forward in attempting to secure her District 2 seat for a third term in her competition with Malik Davis. Still, I’m going to be fair to the councilwoman. “We are moving forward to the general election,” Ingram does say on her Facebook page. “I am honored that you have selected me as one of the top two to move forward to representing District 2. The work does not stop … so let’s keep working together to secure victory.” All well and good, councilwoman, but when the media reaches out to you, it is your responsibility and every elected public servant’s responsibility to reach back.

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Lynne Bissette Greene, 61, is ecstatic about her numbers in Tuesday’s primary, when Greene defeatled ed incumbent Johnny Dawkins by 212 unofficial votes cast. “I am overwhelmed and very appreciative of the support that I received on Tuesday,” says Greene, who had 890 unofficial votes, or 46.69%, to Dawkins’ 678 votes, or 35.57%. “I believe the vote reflects the concerns of our citizens with our current leadership. They clearly want change and I want change, too. Tax rates and gun violence continue to increase. We all deserve to feel safe in our homes and in our community. The voters that I spoke with at the polls expressed their appreciation for my transparency in my posts and blogs and noted that I always include a link to where I get my facts.” Greene is a lifelong city resident and newcomer to the local political scene, although Greene did previously serve with the Fayetteville Public Works Commission.

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Mayor Pro Tem Johnny Dawkins of the Fayetteville City Council District 5 says he has work to do in setting the record straight regarding his opponent, Lynne Bissette Greene. “Lynne lied about me on her radio ads, but one of her campaign people told me she is not running those ads now,” says Dawkins, who is the son of the late J.L. Dawkins, the longest serving mayor in Fayetteville history. “She said I don’t live in Fayetteville, which I do, and she implied I don't pay property taxes on my personal residence. Renters pay property taxes because the taxes are built into the rent. Fifty-five percent of Fayetteville rents. She even said I raised property taxes/the tax rate, and, of course, I have never voted to raise property taxes on the city budget. Ever! I still own property in Fayetteville, so I have to combat her lies/innuendos about me. I'll have to spend money on social media, radio, print, etc., to get the truth to the voters. Round 1 is behind us, now on to Round 2. I’m going to work hard to get my voters to come vote for Johnny Dawkins.” This race may become politically contentious in what is known as old Fayetteville.

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City Hall scuttlebutt has it that Courtney Banks-McLaughlin, the two-term Fayetteville City Council representative from District 8, has let it be known she wants to be appointed as the next mayor pro tem.

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Rather curious to some of us that some community activists seem to think they know more about investigating crime than Kimberlee Braden, a city police chief with 28 years of experience with the Fayetteville Police Department.

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Fayetteville is a historical city rich in Scottish history and deserves better that being described by some as “the ville” and “da ville” or what some of us would describe as ghetto lingo. This old Southern city deserves more reverence. It’s no longer “Fayettenam” of yesteryear and it’s not “the ville” or “da ville” today. It’s Fayetteville.

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A memorial service for former Fayetteville City Councilman Ted Mohn is scheduled from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Bill Crisp Senior Center, 7560 Raeford Road, according to City Councilwoman Courtney Banks-McLaughlin. An Army veteran of 22 years, Mr. Mohn served five terms on the council from 2007-2011 and 2013-2019, including service as mayor pro tem. Theodore William Mohn was 59 when he died on Aug. 13, 2023.

Coming Sunday: Mama would expect nothing less.

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

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Fayetteville, Cumberland Country, election, mayor, city Council

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