Local News

Mario Benavente maintains six-vote lead to secure District 3 seat on City Council

Cumberlan Co logo Political newcomer Mario Benavente maintained a six-vote lead over incumbent Antonio Jones to secure the District 3 seat on the Fayetteville City Council following Friday’s canvass by the Cumberland County Board of Elections.

Benavente’s win was certified Friday by the board, but Jones is eligible to request a recount.
The canvass was conducted at the Board of Elections office at 227 Fountainhead Lane.

The unofficial tally on July 26, which was Election Day, had Benavente edging Jones by six votes — 1,012 to 1,006 — in the tightest race of the night in the Fayetteville municipal election.

On Friday, the absentee ballots were added to make the election’s unofficial returns official. Benavente and Jones each received four votes in Friday’s canvass, making the official tally 1,016 to 1,010, with Benavente still maintaining a six-vote edge over Jones.

Benavente, who attended the canvass, burst out laughing at the outcome, which solidified his victory to represent District 3.
The elections board certified the overall 14,910 ballots that were cast in the election. That included the 198 absentee ballots added during the canvass. A total of 24 provisionals were added Thursday.
In all, 10,551 voters cast ballots on Election Day. An overall 4,137 ballots were cast during early voting.

“We always felt confident about the outcome of the race,” Benavente said following the canvass. “But I can’t lie and say that we weren’t somewhat nervous of the potential. They kind of iced the kicker last night when they delayed the absentee count.

“We’re ready to celebrate today,” he said.

Jones did not immediately return phone messages left Friday.

He told CityView TODAY after the municipal election that he intends to ask for a recount should he remain eligible for one. With the addition of the absentee ballots, Benavente’s win remains no more than 1% of the total votes cast.
Jones can request a recount, which would be held Thursday morning, according to Angie Amaro, the interim director for the Board of Elections.

"We're long past the era of the hanging chad," said Benavente, referring to the computers of today that tally election results. "So, I'm not too worried about a recount."

The request for a recount has to be made in writing, and the Board of Elections must receive it by 5 p.m. on the first day of business following the canvass.

“We don’t know. He may not,” board member Irene Grimes said of Jones asking for a recount.

“I would do it,” Billy King, another member of the Board of Elections, said during a break in the proceedings.

For a non-statewide ballot item in North Carolina, a candidate has the right to request a recount if the difference between the votes for the candidate and the votes for a prevailing candidate is not more than 1% of the total votes cast, according to the state recount law.

"The provisionals and the absentees were certainly — those being outstanding were a question mark," Benavente said. "The way these ballots are counted, the way these computers work, a recount is just going to be a third victory at this point."

Jones, 48, is a pastor and a real estate agent. He was appointed to serve as the District 3 representative in December 2021.
Benavente, 32, is a first-generation American who was born in Korea. He has listed his occupation as a community organizer and legal professional. He recently earned his law degree from N.C. Central University.

This was his first run for public office.

"Just ready to put that same level of hard work effort we did to win this campaign, actually serving my district and my hometown of Fayetteville," he said.

"We have a lot of energy, and we can't wait to raise the expectations of what people expect from their council members."

In another close race, challenger Brenda McNair's win over incumbent Larry Wright was verified by an official 681 to 661 vote with the addition of the absentee ballots.

City Council inauguration

The mayor and the City Council are set to be sworn in during an inauguration ceremony scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at Seabrook Auditorium on the campus of Fayetteville State University. The event is open to the public.
The program will include administering the oath of office, a brief meeting for the council to elect a mayor pro tem and a reception, according to a release from the city.
Mayor Mitch Colvin also is scheduled to deliver an opening address.

1,200 Fort Bragg soldiers to be relocated because barracks fail to meet HVAC standards

FOrt Bragg sign Up to 1,200 Fort Bragg soldiers will be relocated because their barracks don’t meet HVAC standards, post officials said.

The decision comes after Army and installation leaders recently inspected the living conditions in the Volar-style barracks in the Smoke Bomb Hill area, the Public Affairs Office said in a release Thursday.

The soldiers will be moved from 10 to 12 barracks that were built in the 1970s and don’t meet today’s standards for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, the release said.

The relocations will be “a deliberate, phased approach,’’ the release said. Fort Bragg officials did not say when the moves would take place.

“Army leaders have committed substantial resources to address the barracks issues to ensure our soldiers are taken care of throughout the process,’’ the release said.

‘’Our enduring obligation at Fort Bragg and as Army leaders is to take care of our people — our soldiers and their families,’’ the release said. “Their health and welfare is of the utmost importance to our Army readiness.’’

Cumberland County Manager Amy Cannon announces plans to retire

Cumberlan Co logo Cumberland County Manager Amy Cannon plans to retire effective Dec. 1, according to a news release from the county.
Cannon informed the Board of Commissioners of her decision on Monday, the release said.

Cannon has 32 years of service with Cumberland County and has been county manager since 2014.

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve in this capacity in the community where I was born and raised,” Cannon said in the news release. “Most county managers do not have that opportunity.”

Cannon was the first woman to serve as Cumberland County manager. She began with the county budget department in 1990 and was promoted to finance director, assistant county manager and deputy director before being named county manager in June 2014.

“Throughout my career with the county, I have tried to serve with loyalty and dedication,” she said in the release. “I left a career in public accounting in 1990 because I recognized my heart was in public service, and I have no regrets about that decision or my public service journey over the last three decades.”

Cannon said her decision to retire is based solely on her desire to spend more time with her family, the release said.
Board of Commissioners Chairman Glenn Adams called it “a bittersweet announcement.”

“We don’t want to see Ms. Cannon leave, but we completely understand that life moves on and time with family is priceless,” Adams said in the release. “We want to thank her for 32 years of public service and her passionate dedication to our citizens. Cumberland County is better because of her leadership, and we wish her godspeed.”

FTCC faculty, staff hear from first college president finalist

FTCC logoAbout 50 faculty and staff members at Fayetteville Technical Community College on Aug. 4 heard what the first of two finalists for college president believes are critical issues facing the school.

The finalists are Mark Sorrells, senior vice president for Academic and Student Services at Fayetteville Technical Community College, and Pamela Senegal, president of Piedmont Community College in Roxboro.
Sorrells is the first to participate in a question-and-answer session that the college streamed live on its YouTube Channel. Senegal is scheduled to appear in the same venue on Aug. 10.

The question-and-answer session lasted a little over an hour. Sorrells fielded questions ranging from his position on providing mental health services for students, child care, access to technology, helping students with learning disabilities, and the stigma of attending a community college compared with attending a four-year college.

Sorrells listed his three priorities should he get the job as FTCC's next president. The first is to increase student success.

“I’m never satisfied until all succeed,” he said.

He admitted that he may never see that happen, but will continue his efforts on their behalf.
His second priority is “investing in the people who are here.” Sorrells told the audience they are among the most important because they touch the lives of students every day.

His third priority is ensuring a succession of leadership.

“We need a good bench,’’ he said. “A lot of us (in leadership positions) will be gone in the next five to six years.”

Sorrells said leaders must be groomed to take over when the need arises.
Sorrells, who also teaches a business accounting class, came from behind the lectern and paced the stage while answering questions. He told the audience that they all should celebrate their successes, among them an upsurge in passing rates and a downward trend in withdrawals. When he first arrived, FTCC had a 77% passing rate. That number climbed to 82% this summer. Likewise, FTCC suffered a 14% withdrawal rate two years ago. That number is down to 10% as of this summer.

“You did that. That was your work,” he told those attending the session.

He also vowed to better “balance” the faculty and its leadership to more accurately mirror the students attending FTCC.
Responding to a question about what the school is doing for the military, Sorrells said FTCC recently hired Addison “Tad” Davis, a former Fort Bragg garrison commander, as a consultant to look into that issue. Sorrells said the FTCC administration is looking at his recommendations.
Another question asked how FTCC could enhance its online course offerings. Sorrells replied that FTCC was doing well.

"We are the No. 1 online community college in the state," he said.

"We're third in the state when combined with universities," he said.

However, he cautioned that online learning is often hard for students who are not used to technology. He said there is a high 80 to 90% success rate in face-to-face learning environments, a mid-80 to high 80% success rate for a blended learning environment, and a low to high 70% success in a total online.
Sorrells said many students never engage in online learning, and many do not have the discipline to participate in online classes.

“Learning is a social activity,” he said.

Larry Keen, FTCC’s president since 2007, recently announced his plan to retire in January. The board of trustees plans to make its selection later this month. The prospect will be forwarded to the State Board of Community Colleges for approval at that board's meeting in September.

1 killed, another injured in shooting outside Fayetteville motel

FPD logo One person was killed and another was injured in a shooting early Wednesday, Aug. 3 at a motel on Cedar Creek Road, according to the Fayetteville Police Department.

The shooting was reported at 3:15 a.m. Wednesday at the Travelodge motel at 2076 Cedar Creek Road, according to a police news release.
Officers found that two people had been shot in the parking lot. One victim was pronounced dead on the scene. The second was taken to an area hospital with life-threatening injuries, according to the release.

Their identities were withheld pending notification of family.
The shootings are under investigation by the Police Department’s Homicide Unit, the release said.
Anyone with information about the shootings is asked to contact Detective M. Waters at 910-635-4978 or CrimeStoppers at 910-483-TIPS (8477). CrimeStoppers also takes information at http://fay-nccrimestoppers.org.

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