In the race for the Fayetteville City Council District 8 race, political newcomer Michael Pinkston is trying to unseat incumbent Courtney Banks-McLaughlin.
Pinkston, 70, is a downtown businessman and retired Army veteran.
Banks-McLaughlin is in her first term on the City Council.
CityView TODAY asked the candidates for City Council and mayor questions about several issues facing the community. These are their answers.
Occupation: Small business owner
Elected offices held: City Council representative District 8
Banks-McLaughlin did not respond to the CityView TODAY questionnaire.
Occupation: Business owner, The Climbing Place
Elected offices held: None
Crime in the city continues to rise, according to a recent report on the first quarter of 2022 by Police Chief Gina Hawkins to the City Council. Are city officials — and specifically, the police chief and the Police Department — doing enough to address crime? If not, what should they do differently?
“It is my opinion that we have a police force in name only, not in action. The Ethics Committee hearing against Chief (Gina) Hawkins was a travesty of miss justice. … The work environment at the Police Department is so toxic that it makes it impossible for the police officers to do their job.’’
Record numbers of officers have left and are leaving our police force. Many are underpaid and feel they don’t have the support of their leaders. What is your plan to correct this serious issue?
“Once we have fired Gina Hawkins we will need someone from within the Police Department who is well trusted and loves and cares for the city. Someone who has come up through the ranks and who knows the officers, their families as well as the city. ... Additionally, I would like to see all officers who were fired or reduced in rank restored to their former position, which would include all back pay and benefits. I would like to offer all officers who left the Police Department to come back to Fayetteville, to come back with a raise. It will take a lot of time to rebuild loyalty in the Police Department.’’
He says the City Council is not holding Hawkins accountable for problems in the department.
“Our Police Department is perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle that makes up Fayetteville, and it must be our strongest and most stable.’’
Affordable housing continues to be an issue for many in our community. The City Council decided to earmark part of its American Rescue Plan Act funding to address housing issues. What else can the city do to help residents find safe, affordable housing?
“It is my sincere belief that all housing should be affordable. There are many federal programs that supplement rent in order to allow individuals with low-income jobs to at least pay for some of the rent. We must find a way to help our citizens have adequate housing, housing that gives them a sense of dignity.’’
A review of Fayetteville’s traffic stops shows they totaled over 70,000 in 2016 and less than 22,000 last year. There are still problems with speeding, red light violations and other traffic issues. Was there a conscious decision made to ban minor traffic stops, and if so by whom? Are you concerned about the decrease in stops and what should the city do about it?
“The problem always starts at the top. … it has become easier to not write a speeding ticket than to write a ticket and then have it questioned by the chief.’’
Fayetteville has seen some economic news in recent months with the new Amazon distribution center and other business announcements. What does city leadership need to do to increase jobs in our community? What city resources need to be devoted to this cause?
“This is more of a systemic problem than just a city problem. The city and the county need to work together in order to bring industry to Fayetteville and Cumberland County. One thing we can do is quit turning industry away as we did with Sanderson Farms, which would have been a chicken processing plant and would have provided about 200 jobs. We need to always find a way to say yes to jobs. However, jobs are only part of the problem. As I look through the daily papers and see the hundreds of job offerings, what I often find is that our workforce does not meet the necessary qualification for the current job market. You can't get a good job without a high school and college education. What you will learn in high school and college is invaluable in getting a good-paying job.’’