Fayetteville, N.C. — For the first time in eight years, Fayetteville will have a new mayor, and five people will compete in next Tuesday's primary for the position.
Mayor Tony Chavonne announced in April that he wouldn't seek re-election, setting off a scramble to be his successor.
The candidates include City Councilwoman Val Applewhite, real estate executive Kirk deViere, former City Council members Nat Robertson and Paul Williams and Charles Ragan, who ran a grassroots mayoral campaign four years ago.
Applewhite, a six-year veteran of the City Council, frequently sparred with Chavonne on issues such as a parks and recreation bond. She called the measure too costly and helped defeat it, but she says she would now back smaller packages.
"We've got to prioritize the needs in this community," she said, adding that curbing Fayetteville's crime rate, boosting economic growth and empowering families are among her priorities.
"I think it's a great opportunity to connect our families to resources in the community and make them healthy," she said.
DeViere, a political newcomer, said he believes the City Council has been too divisive, hindering its ability to get things done.
"I believe there needs to be a new direction," he said. "We have to work together in this community to reduce crime. It starts with presence, and it starts with partnerships, meaning we've got to get our community involved in this."
Ragan calls himself the working man's candidate. He works in a metal recycling yard, and he said the city's taxes are too stifling.
"I've got to protect my own economic interests, and I'll help protect the people's too," he said. "I'm not a typical mayoral candidate."
Similarly, Williams said Fayetteville's government is hindering business.
"I'm advocating a fundamental change where we bring government, rein it back in and get it out of the way of business," he said. "There's just so many things that they're doing that's just smothering small business."
Robertson, who lost to Chavonne in 2011, said he's big on government transparency.
"One of those things (I want to do) would be bringing all the meetings into council chambers, where they're televised," he said. "No more meetings in the board rooms, that type of thing, before the council actually meets formally."
The two candidates who garner the most support Tuesday will face off Nov. 5 for the chance to be Fayetteville's next mayor.
Durham also has primary
Durham also will hold a primary election Tuesday.
Mayor Bill Bell, who is seeking a seventh two-year term, will face challengers Michael Valentine, a business consultant and political newcome, and Rev. Sylvester Williams, who lost to Bell in 2011.