Well, Kirk deViere’s YouTube announcement last week that he intends to give up his District 2 City Council seat and enter the race for mayor makes it look like Fayetteville residents are going to experience a spirited municipal race and election this fall.
Two-term incumbent Mayor, Nat Robertson, has much going for him, including years of experience, a grassroots kinship with the Fayetteville community and a long list of municipal accomplishments with an even longer list of Republican friends, donors and supporters. On the other hand, Florida-born outsider deViere was introduced to Fayetteville via his 10-year Army tenure and affiliations through Fort Bragg. He consequently and consciously adopted Fayetteville as his “hometown.” Here, he built his reputation, his businesses and his home. With his marriage to one of Fayetteville’s local and most prominent favorite daughters, Jenny Beaver, he is now in the process of raising a Fayetteville family.
With these two worthy contenders having much in common, it practically assures an exciting and competitive race. Matter of fact, they have so much in common it makes you wonder why they are vying for the same position and not combining their experience, intellect and passion into building a leadership coalition that would expedite Fayetteville’s growth and prosperity for all citizens. It has been said that Fayetteville is a tale of two cities — the “haves” and the “have-nots.” Well, I’m not sure I buy that. Fayetteville is one city, and it should be governed as one city. Robertson and deViere are both good men. A close look at these two candidates reflects many positive similarities.
Both candidates love the Fayetteville community and are committed to making it a better place to live, work and raise a family.
Both are honest, intelligent and reasonable with a lot of common sense.
Both are free-thinking and can articulate and communicate their ideas succinctly.
Both understand the importance of long-term planning and leadership.
Both have positive visions for the Fayetteville community.
Both have demonstrated an extreme work ethic.
Both have extensive “hands-on” business experience.
Both are entrepreneurial and have owned businesses.
Both are familiar with the pressures of making an employee payroll.
Both are logical and creative thinkers.
Both are family-oriented: Robertson has two successful grown children raised in Fayetteville and deViere has chosen to raise his children in Fayetteville.
Both their wives are local women of substance who have successful professional careers. Both women are involved and active in the community and extremely dedicated to and supportive of their husbands.
Both want to see Fayetteville grow and prosper both economically and socially.
And, both contenders know the agony of defeat, having each lost a previous mayoral campaign.
So, on the surface, we have two substantially qualified candidates who undoubtedly and passionately have the City of Fayetteville’s best interest at heart. Personal leadership style and philosophy may end up being the only real contentions between the two. Let’s hope so. We do not need the overwhelming vitriol that was present when Robertson ran against and defeated real estate agent Val Applewhite in 2013. Many people felt that was fueled because Applewhite’s priorities were misaligned and that she was running for all the wrong reasons.
No one can predict what will take place in the coming weeks. Will it be a dignified and respectable mayoral race between two dignified and respectable city servants?
No one knows, but, I sincerely hope so. No doubt both candidates want to be leaders and accountable to the people. I’m hoping for an aggressive but positive and respectable campaign — one where the winner becomes mayor and the loser remains an involved supporter and advocate of the Fayetteville community.
No doubt The Fayetteville Observer and the local radio talk shows will try to keep the election conflicted. They think it sells more papers and gains listeners. I doubt it. The fact is, our local daily newspaper doesn’t have many reporters left in the newsroom, if any, who have a qualified local historical and political perspective of Fayetteville, let alone of the candidates. And, with its local editorial page editor living two counties away in Chatham County, you can be sure his opinions and insights will be shallow and antagonistic.
The local radio talk shows will tend to follow their same “unfair and unbalanced” format. My best advice to the candidates and the community is to resist, resist, resist. This means Fayetteville residents must do their due diligence by vetting each candidate. Talk openly with and candidly to these two highly-qualified mayoral candidates. Then vote your conscience. Don’t depend on the media.
Our community is on the verge of greatness. Fayetteville residents want it, and we deserve it.
I close this editorial with excellent advice to all the 2017 candidates intending to affect Fayetteville’s future and quality of life. To paraphrase Gen. George Patton, lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way. Anything else and you are impeding progress.
I thank both Mayor Robertson and City Councilman Kirk deViere for their service to our community. And, I thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.