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Primary winners strategize for November’s general election


With Tuesday’s primary in the rearview mirror, the remaining candidates vying for seats on the  Fayetteville City Council — and in other municipal races in Cumberland County — are looking ahead to Nov. 7’s general election. 

Voters can hear from some candidates at a forum planned by the Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce, set for 8 to 11 a.m. on Wednesday at the Crown Complex ballroom. The event is open to the public and free to attend, but attendees must register. Registration for Chamber members and non-members is available at faybiz.com.  

The top two finishers in the Fayetteville primaries advanced to the general election. In contested races, those seats included: 

MAYOR | Colvin vs. de la Cruz

Incumbent Mayor Mitch Colvin will face challenger Freddie de la Cruz after the pair led a four-person ballot in Fayetteville’s nonpartisan primary. The two previously squared off in the July 2021 election, which was delayed by several months because of the state’s lengthy redistricting process. In that contest, Colvin defeated de la Cruz by a 9,306-5,475 margin. 

Colvin, who first won election as mayor in 2017, received 6,472 votes (60.5%) on Tuesday, while de la Cruz secured 2,339 votes (21.8%), according to unofficial returns. Charles Evans, who came in third place, got 1,736 votes (16.4%), while Quancidine Hinson-Gribble came in fourth place with 142 votes (1.3%). 

According to his campaign website, de la Cruz served in the U.S. Army for 32 years — 28 of those as a military police officer. He is the owner of several businesses, including Venus Vogue Weddings and Formals, The Venue at Venus Vogue and Fayetteville Limousine Service. 

Before that, Colvin 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 also operates Colvin Funeral Home and Affordable Cremation Service.    

Despite Colvin’s margin of victory in the primary, de la Cruz told CityView he’s confident in his chances for November. A retired veteran and business owner, de la Cruz said it was “encouraging” that he finished ahead of Evans, who’d previously served on both the Fayetteville City Council and Cumberland County Board of Commissioners. He’s hoping name-recognition will work in his favor in the general election.  

“The first time I ran, they just didn't know who Freddie was,” de la Cruz said. “And now that I'm running, a lot of people know me from school and just hanging out in the streets, and we know the same people, same walks of life, so it's a little different. And I just think that Mitch's cap is 10,000 (votes). I just got to get more than 10,000 votes.” 

Colvin, who sees himself as the “most seasoned, experienced candidate” on the mayoral ballot, remained self-assured that voters will continue to support him in November. 

“I think they spoke loud and clear that they do believe, overall, the city is headed in a positive direction,” Colvin told CityView. “And I ask for their continued support on November the 7th.”

As mayor, Colvin said his greatest accomplishment has been the approval of $97 million in general obligation bonds to support projects in public safety, public infrastructure and housing opportunities. 

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

De la Cruz reiterated his campaign promise of prioritizing transparency and accountability. He said Colvin had become “complacent” as mayor, and that if he won the seat, he’d push for change. 

“There's a great divide between the people in our city, and I want to help mend our youth crime, murder rate,” de la Cruz said. “Homelessness continues to rise due to the complacency and the lack of collaboration between the city and county. My pledge to the people is to be accountable, fair and honest and transparent.” 

Colvin pledged to voters that Fayetteville would follow a positive trajectory under his continued leadership. 

“I can promise that we'll continue to work hard to create jobs, create a more livable community that provides opportunity for people to take care of themselves and their families, that we're going to concentrate and put the full weight of the city resources behind making us a safer community for everybody,” Colvin said, “and that we will have a great next two years.” 

DISTRICT 5 | Greene vs. Dawkins

In the District 5 race, Lynne Greene won 890 votes (46.5%) of the ballots cast, finishing ahead of incumbent councilman Johnny Dawkins, who received 678 votes (35.5%). 

A real estate agent, Greene serves on the Airborne and Special Operations Museum Foundation Board and was a PWC Commissioner from 2012 to 2015, according to her campaign website. 

Dawkins, a health insurance consultant, served his first two-year term on city council in 2003, when he was elected as the District 9 representative. In 2017, he was elected to represent District 5 and has held the seat since then. 

Dawkins admitted he was less than pleased with Tuesday’s election results, and he believes Greene’s campaign advertisements — including her repeated claims that he lives in the Raleigh house he says he bought for his mother-in-law — contributed to his finish. 

“I was very disappointed, but the negative ads by my opponent helped her,” Dawkins told CityView. “I bought my mother-in-law a house in Raleigh, and that is where she resides, and I reside in Fayetteville.”

Dawkins’ voter registration shows he lives on Millan Drive in Fayetteville. 

After Tuesday’s primary, Dawkins also clarified statements he attributed to Greene that he’d supported raising taxes in the past. 

“I've got to spend a lot of money to tell folks, ‘Hey, that is not a true statement by my opponent,’” he said. 

Greene, who received nearly half the vote, said she was “pleasantly surprised” by her primary finish. 

“You always hope to move forward, and I felt pretty good about it,” Greene told CityView. “I felt confident, but you're never 100% sure. But I was pleasantly surprised that I came in first.” 

“The District 5 residents are ready for change, and I think they cast their vote that way,” she added. 

Greene said her main goal if elected would be to improve safety in the community, particularly addressing crime and traffic violations. She emphasized the importance of economic development and job retention and recruitment to attract businesses and reduce the city’s tax rate.  

Dawkins' focus going into the general election is prioritizing public safety and infrastructure, especially stormwater control. He supports investing in the police force, including hiring more officers and expanding community policing initiatives, as well as expanding the Police Action League program to provide outlets for teenagers and build positive relationships between young people and the police. 

Greene said her promise to voters was to be “transparent” and provide factual information. She mentioned her blog posts on her campaign website as an example of this.  

“One of the things that I've been doing throughout the campaign trail is I have tried to be very transparent when I have said something about the council, about what displeases me, or even things going on in our city that people may not be aware of to try to help them be informed,” she said. “Because I feel like the most important thing, being an informed voter, is that I have really tried to be transparent, and I have tried to link them back to the facts.” 

Dawkins had a simple pledge to voters: “I promise I will not vote for a property tax increase.”

DISTRICT 2 | Davis vs. Ingram

In the seven-candidate District 2 race, challenger Malik Davis led the balloting with 520 votes (34.3%) of votes cast. Incumbent Councilwoman Shakeyla Ingram barely secured her spot in November’s general election, coming in second with 319 votes (21%)  — edging third-place Laura Rodrigues Mussler, who received 278 votes. 

Davis and Ingram will vie for the District 2 seat in the general election.

City council seats for which only two candidates filed didn’t have a primary in Fayetteville, so those seats will be contested in November. They include: 

  • District 1: incumbent Kathy Jensen and Jose Rodriguez 
  • District 3: incumbent Mario Benavente and Michelle Dillon
  • District 4: incumbent D.J. Haire and Stuart Collick 
  • District 6: incumbent Derrick Thompson (running unopposed) 
  • District 7: incumbent Brenda McNair (running unopposed) 
  • District 8: incumbent Courtney Banks-McLaughlin (running unopposed) 
  • District 9: incumbent Deno Hondros and Fredlisha Lansana

Neither Davis nor Ingram responded immediately to CityView’s requests for comment. 

Cumberland’s other municipal races

In the Hope Mills mayor race, incumbent Jackie Warner faces Jessie Bellflowers.

Candidates for the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners include challengers Ronnie Strong, Pat Edwards, Mark Hess, Deanna L. Rosario, H. Elyse Craver, Karen Smith Saracen, Ronald Starling and Patrick Mitchell, as well as incumbents Bryan A. Marley, Kenjuana McCray, Jerry Legge, Grilley Mitchell and Joanne Scarola.

In Spring Lake’s mayor race, incumbent Kia Anthony faces Fredricka Sutherland.

Candidates for the Spring Lake Board of Aldermen include challengers Daniel B. Gerald, Jackie Lee Jackson, James P. O’Garra and Katrina (Bell) Bratcher and incumbents Robyn Chadwick, Sona L. Cooper, Adrian Jones Thompson, Marvin Lackman and Raul Palacios.

Early voting for November’s general election begins Oct. 19.

Other municipal offices that will be on the ballot include:

  • Eastover Sanitary District: one board member
  • Eastover: mayor, three town council seats
  • Falcon: mayor, all four council seats
  • Godwin: mayor, all four council seats
  • Linden: mayor, all five council seats
  • Stedman: three council seats
  • Wade: mayor, all five council seats

Contact Evey Weisblat at eweisblat@cityviewnc.com or 216-527-3608. 

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elections, candidates, primary