Fayetteville City Council denies motion to censure mayor and councilman over misconduct allegations

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Wednesday, January 3, 2024
Fayetteville City Council votes not to censure mayor, councilmember
The Fayetteville city council is at odds after councilwoman Courtney Banks-McLaughlin moved to censure both the Mayor Mitch Colvin and city councilman Mario Benevente.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Fayetteville City Council voted against a motion to censure both Mayor Mitch Colvin and City Councilman Mario Benevente over allegations of misconduct.

The city voted in December of 2023 to settle a lawsuit brought forward by former Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins. ABC11 tried to reach Hawkins to learn more about the specific allegations, but we have yet to hear back. We do know that the allegations centered around discrimination and disrespect from Mayor Colvin and Councilman Benevente, who both deny that the accusations are true.

The settlement granted $200,000 in taxpayer money to Hawkins. Mayor Colvin voted to approve the settlement, but maintained that his vote was not an admission of guilt.

"The city was clear that the cost of litigation just really outweighed pursuing it any further," Mayor Colvin told ABC11. "It's unfortunate tonight that we're spending our time looking backwards, and I hope that we can move forward."

While Councilman Benevente agrees with the sentiment of moving forward, he took a different approach than the Mayor by voting against the settlement.

"I voted not to give the $200,000 because I agree that that wasn't necessarily the best mode of response to these allegations, because they're unfounded, because they were untrue," Councilman Benevente said, claiming that he wasn't even elected at the time of the alleged misconduct.

Councilwoman Bankes-McLaughlin claims she witnessed Colvin and Benevente's misconduct firsthand. She made the motion to censure them both because she felt they weren't being held accountable for costing the city $200,000, though she said she wasn't surprised that no one on the council voted to approve it.

"Am I upset? Absolutely, but I'll be able to sleep at night knowing that I did the right thing," Councilwoman Banks-McLaughlen said. "The council members who did not support this? They are as guilty as the two that was accused for not saying something."

Again, both Mayor Colvin and Councilman Benevente maintain the allegations against them are false.

If they had been censured, it technically wouldn't have any meaningful consequences, but the councilwoman felt it would at least be some sort of recorded discipline.