pub pen 3 9 Finally, we are scheduled to have a primary election on May 17. Candidate filings have faced inconvenient delays because of lawsuits over the establishment of congressional districts. These districts are also used in county and municipal elections and were redrawn using information from the 2020 Census. So, let the games (primaries) begin!

It's been a long time since this community has seen so much activity and enthusiasm toward local elections. The many residents who have filed to serve public offices in Fayetteville and Cumberland County reflect this enthusiasm. Every one of them should be commended for their willingness to step up and be a public servant. This enthusiastic participation speaks volumes about what residents think of the City of Fayetteville and Cumberland County's leadership. And, by the candidates' turnout, these folks are not giving our current public servants very high marks in leadership. Just the opposite. Citizens are frustrated and discouraged by the way our local governments are run. Dissatisfaction runs the gamut. Our local governments lack transparency in handling the allegations of incompetence and mismanagement leveled against Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins. And the reluctance of the City Council to call for an independent external investigation of former councilwoman Tisha Waddell's allegations against the mayor and several sitting council members. Suppose there is, in fact, no truth to these allegations, as Mayor Mitch Colvin contends. Then why resist the call for an independent external investigation? An independent external inquiry into Waddell's allegations would provide proof, reassurance and closure for the citizens of Fayetteville. Residents are not happy with the way current leadership is running this community, and they are losing trust and confidence in them every day and for a good reason.

The citizens of Fayetteville and Cumberland County love and care about this community, and they witness daily what our collective elected officials choose to ignore.

The downtown encampments filled with people without homes are seen daily by city and county elected officials, staff members and employees without acknowledgment. People are homesteading under trees in our center city and camping out in our downtown parking lots using our trees and fence posts to hang their laundry and trash bags.

In addition, we have a homicide rate that makes us competitive for the title of murder capital of North Carolina and one of the deadliest cities in the country. But, we boast a lower rate of petty crimes. The amount of trash and litter on our streets is beginning to speak volumes about people's lack of respect for our community.

Yes, the election period is short. Yes, candidates seeking office must work fast and hard to raise money and name recognition. And, yes, most of the incumbents have a huge advantage. I doubt any challengers will displace Mitch Colvin or many of the other city and county officials.

However, the sheer number of candidates running for office indicates that people are not happy with the current leadership. And, those new folks who manage to win have the opportunity to provide a new and fresh leadership style that could help assure honest governance to city and county residents.

Review the candidates carefully and do your due diligence. Because, ultimately, in the end, we will end up with the kind of leadership we deserve.

Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.