The voter turnout in this month’s Fayetteville primary election was so small that absentee ballots had a substantial influence in the city council District 2 race. Fewer than 3% of the 31,000 registered voters in two primary districts went to the polls. Twenty-seven primary election day ballots initially separated Shakeyla M. Ingram, 28, and Janene M. Ackles, 49. A third challenger, Arnita Bristol, was a distant third in the District 2 voting and was eliminated. Next month, Ingram or Ackles will succeed Dan Culliton, who was appointed to the council to replace former councilman Tyrone Williams who resigned under pressure amid allegations of misconduct. District 2 includes East Fayetteville, portions of Haymount and much of downtown Fayetteville.
District 6 Councilman Bill Crisp, 79, decided to retire. He has served sections of West Fayetteville since the 2005 big bang annexation that brought him into office. Three candidates vied for his seat. When one more candidate than twice the number of seats available runs, all but two are eliminated in a primary election. Chris Davis and Carlos Swinger placed first and second, eliminating Mary Johnson Ferguson. Davis was endorsed by Crisp and won more than twice the number of votes Swinger received.
Unlike the county board of commissioners and the local board of education, city council races are nonpartisan. The nine city council districts were established in 2000, following a citizen task force recommendation that resulted in a reorganization of the governing body. The only member of council elected citywide is the mayor. Mitch Colvin is unopposed and seeking his second term.
Three other incumbent council members are opposed in the November general election. District 1 member Kathy Jensen is being challenged by Valencia Handy, who has no elective office experience. Jensen is seeking a fourth term. Five-term Mayor Pro Tem Ted Mohn is opposed by Courtney Banks McLaughlin, who is also seeking elective office for the first time. District 9 Councilman Jim Arp is opposed by Yvonne Kinston, who has a leadership background in organized labor.
The city of Fayetteville is geographically the second largest city in North Carolina, encompassing 148 square miles requiring 36 polling places from fire station 17 on Bailey Lake Road on the westside to fire station 19 off Andrews Road on the northside. The North Carolina State Board of Elections provides an easy online website for a resident to locate his/her polling place.
Early voting for the general election is underway and will continue through Fri., Nov. 1. One-stop early voting is being held at the Cumberland County Board of Elections Office, located in the E. Newton Smith Center at 227 Fountainhead Lane, downtown Fayetteville. Dates and times are:
Oct. 19-20, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Oct. 23-27, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Oct. 30-Nov. 1, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5. The polls will open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.