Some in Fayetteville think city politics will be more divisive but have more accountability

ByMonique John via WTVD logo
Thursday, July 28, 2022
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Fayetteville's Tuesday election results sparked lively discussion over the future of the city.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Fayetteville's Tuesday election results sparked a lively discussion about the future of the city.

Voters and political experts shared thoughts about how the tone of the city council and the relationships among city officials may change with this administration. They also expressed division about possible changes to the city's government structure that locals are slated to vote on in November.

"The citizens voted, and they voted for who they want," said Commissioner Charles Evans of the Cumberland County Board Of Commissioners. "And that's what's important; that they feel that their person that they voted for will represent them in a manner that they are pleased with."

Voters and commentators on both sides agreed that the dynamics among city officials are going to change with the new administration. Mayor Mitch Colvin was re-elected for the third time, but newcomer Brenda McNair is joining the council.

"We have council members that's going to be more engaged into actually doing their jobs," community activist Troy Williams said. "My criticism of the past council was that I thought they were just cheerleaders for the mayor."

Williams predicted there'll be more division and accountability in city government this time around. Experts also said this is a city council that will likely bring out more heated discussion surrounding hot-button issues like deciding on the future of the historic Market House in downtown. There were also concerns about voter apathy and the low turnout; only about 11% of the electorate came out to the polls.

"What we have to do as elected individuals is give citizens more," Evans said. "(We have to) make them excited about coming out and voting for you. And that's what's happening. We don't have the excitement."

Evans also spoke out against a possible change in city government.

"To say that it will be a better service for the citizens, it probably would be in some areas. But it's not in all areas because there are areas that will be totally forgotten," Evans said. "And even at large, I've been fortunate enough to win at large. But it takes money. It takes money to run these at-large races. And so what you're doing now is pricing people out of the opportunity to serve."

Williams disagreed.

"I don't think that's the problem," Williams said. "If you have six people to vote for, it just empowers you. It doesn't disempower you."

In November, it's expected that residents will vote on whether to incorporate citywide representatives into local government. That would mean residents would vote for their district representative, the mayor, and four additional, at-large representatives for Fayetteville.