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On the eve of Tuesday’s municipal primary, four candidates eye mayoral seat


With Cumberland’s primary municipal elections set for Tuesday, voters will choose between four candidates seeking Fayetteville’s mayor seat: incumbent Mitch Colvin and challengers Freddie de la Cruz, Quancidine Hinson-Gribble and Charles Evans. 

The top two vote-getters in the primary will face off in the general election on Nov. 7. Early voting for the primary ends at 3 p.m. Saturday, and polls open for regular voting at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday. 

CityView spoke to the candidates outside the polls on Friday. Here’s what they had to say:

Mitch Colvin 

The incumbent in the race, Colvin was first elected as mayor in 2017 and is serving in his third term. Before that, he served two consecutive terms on the city council, representing District 3 from 2013 to 2015, and as mayor pro-tem from 2015 to 2017. 

Colvin operates Colvin Funeral Home and Affordable Cremation Service. The lifelong resident of Fayetteville believes crime is the city’s most pressing issue. 

“Our city is growing, and with growth comes changes and growing pains,” he said. “And so right now, we are zeroing in on youth, gun violence, how to be proactive in preventing it, and then how to deal with it once it happens.” 

He believes the city’s investments in technologies under his leadership, such as ShotSpotter — a controversial gunshot detection system — and community programs for at-risk youth have been beneficial when it comes to  crime prevention in Fayetteville. 

During his current term, Colvin said his greatest accomplishment has been voters approving  $97 million in general obligation bonds to support projects in public safety, public infrastructure and housing opportunity. 

“I think that's a huge accomplishment that'll pay dividends for years,” he said. 

Colvin says city voters should choose him in the primary because of his “proven track record of success” in local government. 

“We've created jobs,” he said. “We've brought investment. We've grown the city and asked for their vote as the most seasoned, experienced candidate.”

Freddie de la Cruz

A retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, de la Cruz competed unsuccessfully against Colvin in the 2022 mayoral election, getting 37% of the vote. 

According to his campaign website, he served in the United States Army for 32 years, 28 of those as a Military Police Officer. He spent more than five years in a combat zone and two years in Korea. He is the owner of several businesses, including Venus Vogue Weddings and Formals, The Venue at Venus Vogue and Fayetteville Limousine Service. 

De la Cruz believes the most urgent issue facing Fayetteville right now is crime, particularly juvenile crime and homicides. Another major issue he’s identified is a lack of collaboration between the city and the county. 

“I feel as a mayor, I can help build that bridge that's been broken,” he said.

De la Cruz also believes that his Spanish heritage will allow him to unify Fayetteville’s diverse population. According to the latest census data, about 13% of Fayetteville residents identify as Hispanic. 

“I want to bring unity to this community because right now I see a big division, and I want to be a part of bringing that together,” he said. “And I think I can do that because of my Spanish heritage.” 

De la Cruz says voters should choose him because he’s “fully qualified to do the job” and is passionate about helping people. 

“And I think that passion will show when I become the mayor, and I'll attend all the different events, regardless of what community we're talking about — whatever community, I'll be there,” he said. “I will represent the entire community, not just a segment of it. So that's why I think I'll be the best mayor of Fayetteville.” 

Quancidine Hinson-Gribble 

A widow of a military veteran, Hinson-Gribble previously sought the mayor post in 2017. She is a community organizer and works freelance as a disaster-relief consultant. 

Hinson-Gribble has recently been involved in organizing a farmer’s market on Murchison Road to address what she sees as a food desert, saying it will open on Oct. 14. She also co-organized a protest outside the Day Resource Center in August to raise awareness about issues facing the city’s homeless population. 

According to Hinson-Gribble, the most pressing issue facing Fayetteville right now is police brutality, closely followed by youth crime and violence. 

She said she’s working on sponsoring a pilot program to improve math and science educational opportunities for children that will set them on the right academic path. 

“If their mind is focused and they're looking forward to learning something new that can help them in the future, the time is now for that,” she said. “We can't put off and say what we're going to do when we're elected. We have to do these things now.” 

Hinson-Gribble said the top reason voters should support her is her ability to connect with constituents and understand their needs. She pointed to her experience connecting her neighbors with basic necessities during Hurricane Matthew. 

“When FEMA and the services were slow to react, I went and took care of my neighborhood,” she said. “I made sure they had something to eat, something to drink, and then they got their services online through the month … I'm able to meet with them, know how to meet with them, ask depressing questions. What do you need today? How can I make your life better today?” 

Charles Evans

Evans has a long history in local government, having served on the Fayetteville City Council representing District 2 from 2005 to 2009, and on the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners as an at-large member from 2012 to 2022. 

Evans has also competed for state office; he ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for the 7th District Congressional seat in 2022, garnering 29% of the vote. 

Evans also believes crime is the city’s most critical issue. In addition, he feels strongly about keeping the Public Works Commission in the city and not selling it to a private company. 

In May 2021, the city ended negotiations with a private equity firm to buy the public utility, but debate continues around the issue.

“Everybody's not going to agree with what's going on at PWC,” Evans said. “But the one thing about it, we have the opportunity to talk about it and make it right. If somebody else comes in here, that would not be the case. Our rates will go high. Our senior citizens won't be able to afford the rates.” 

Evans said the top reason people should vote for him is his experience in municipal government. He said, while on city council, he established the rental inspections program and improved the Fayetteville Area System of Transit. 

“I have a working knowledge, and one thing is my love for people and to be a part of bettering their lives,” Evans said. “And that's what my aim and purpose is — to make sure that everyone’s life is better than it was the last time. 

Evey Weisblat can be reached at eweisblat@cityviewnc.com.

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election, mayor, primary