Mitch Colvin will join Tony Chavonne as the second longest-serving mayor in Fayetteville history while the Fayetteville City Council will have two new faces in Districts 2 and 5 in four weeks.
And Hope Mills will have a new mayor.
“I am humble for the trust the people put in me,” Colvin, 50, was saying Tuesday night after securing a lopsided victory over challenger Efrain “Freddie” de la Cruz for the city gavel, earning an unofficial 11,469, or 65.02%, while his 61-year-old opponent had 6,089 votes, or 34.52%. “I look forward to working for the people again.”
Lynne Bissette Greene, 61, pulled off one of the largest upsets in Fayetteville City Council history that likely brings an end to the Dawkins political name, remaining cautiously optimistic as District 2 precincts were in and giving the businesswoman a resounding triumph with 1,905 unofficial votes, or 59.96% to Dawkins’ 1,261 votes, or 39.69%.
“I could not have done this without every single one of you,” Greene would tell supporters gathered in the den of her home. “And I truly thank you.”
Across town, Malik Davis defeated two-term councilwoman Shakeyla Ingram for the District 2 seat.
“I believe my message resonated well,” Davis, 28, said. “I believe the message I had was the message for change. I’m excited. I’m very excited. Excited for the citizens I will be their next representative. I’m going to give the people their voices on a seat at the table.”
Other City Council winners were Kathy Keefe Jensen, earning a sixth term in District 1; Mario Benavente earning a second term in District 3; D.J. Haire becoming the longest-serving councilman in city history by winning his 12th term; and Deno Hondros earning a second term in District 9.
Perhaps the political stunner of Tuesday was the loss for Jackie Warner, the seven-term Hope Mills mayor, who was defeated by Jessie Bellflowers, a former town commissioner with 756 unofficial votes, or 52.57% to Warner with 674 votes, or 46.87%.
George Breece perspective
“A big victory for Mayor Colvin,” George Breece, a longtime politico, would say. “Mitch is the closest thing to a ‘Mayor for Life' since J.L. Dawkins,” who served seven terms. “He will be the mayor until he runs someday for something in Raleigh or Washington, D.C.”
Greene, he said, ran a strong campaign against Johnny Dawkins.
“A take no prisoners approach, she was everywhere, stayed on message and beat the sitting mayor pro tem,” he said. “Lynne will be a strong voice on the city council and could be a future mayor one day. We should all thank Johnny for his years of service to our city.”
Breece says Davis’ triumph over Ingram came as no surprise.
“He ran exceptionally well in the primary and was everywhere in the general election,” he said. “He will be a workhorse on the council and a quiet leader.”
As for Jensen, Breece said she is a face of north Fayetteville.
“No one can defeat her in District 1,” he said about the daughter of the late Cumberland County commissioner John Keefe. “She is a tenacious campaigner and always prepared on issues facing our city. Her dad would be proud.”
Benavente, he said, is establishing his place on the City Council.
“Mario Benavente won his first race by a razor-thin margin,” Breece said about the 33-year-old activist and District 3 councilman. “He kicked the door down in this election and is a positive force to be reckoned with on the council and in the community.”
No surprise in District 4, either.
"D.J. cleans house again with a huge victory,” Breece said. “The ‘Dean of the Council’ continues to get the overwhelming approval of the voters.”
And Deno Hondros is a tireless campaigner.
“He worked the streets of District 9 and pounded the pavement to a comfortable victory margin,” Breece says. “He is a tireless campaigner and a constituent servant.”
No revelation in Kia Anthony holding on to the mayor’s gavel in Spring Lake.
“She has worked very hard over these past two years,” Breece says. "And the voters of Spring Lake thanked her in a big way.”
But it was Hope Mills that had Election Night folks talking most among themselves.
“Jessie Bellflowers never gave up and clearly connected with a majority of the voters in Hope Mills,” Breece says. “Jackie Warner loses her first race ever. She has served the citizens of Hope Mills with dedication over many years and should be thanked for that.”
For every winner …
“I gave people an opportunity,” de la Cruz said about his second bid for the Fayetteville mayoral gavel. “I had 6,000 votes,” but the Army veteran says he is baffled that only 13.30% took the time to vote. “Maybe I’m not doing it right. I’m not sure if I will run for office again.”
Dawkins said he is proud of his city council service.
“It’s been a privilege to serve eight years on the city council, and I am grateful,” he said. “Now is the time to move on. I will move to Raleigh at some point. Now is the time to move on.”
He pointed to a list of accomplishments including restoration of the Mirror Lake dam after a hurricane, securing a stoplight for Northview Drive at Morganton Road, his work toward stormwater issues and helping secure city funding for a Civil War history museum.
The race between Greene and Dawkins was contentious.
“The people … they believed her lies,” he said, referencing Greene’s campaign advertisements that Dawkins raised property taxes, a claim denied by Dawkins.
For supporters at Lynne Greene’s home near Murray Hill, it was an Election Night of what’s to come.
“We are looking forward to change,” Melene Hatcher, who is Greene’s campaign manager, said.
Greene would concur, her 82-year-old mother nearby.
“I would like to see the council work better together,” Greene said. “And I would like to see more transparency. I was calm before. Now, I’m excited.”
She looked out at her supporters.
“It took a village,” Greene said.
Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-624-1961