Fayetteville, N.C. — In November 2005, businessman and Fayetteville native Tony Chavonne was a political newcomer when voters chose him as the city's mayor.
That year, Fayetteville voters frustrated over a forced annexed of more than 40,000 people helped usher him into City Hall.
He's been re-elected twice since then and is looking to voters to elect him to two more years this Tuesday when voters go to the polls.
"It's just the things that are happening right now – we're just not (where we want to be) yet," Chavonne, 56, a Democrat, said Thursday.
In his last term, Fayetteville won the prestigious All America City award for the third time, and growth at Fort Bragg has spawned a vibrant economy.
"Not a week goes by that we don't have inquiries from around the country from people who are interested in coming to Fayetteville," Chavonne said. "You know, it's particularly rewarding as the mayor to be leading this city right now."
He pointed out that "The Daily Beast" this summer ranked the city as the No. 1 city in the country for college graduates to live.
"To me, that really says it all – that young people see opportunity here," he said.
But annexation is still an issue for the city. Gates Four, a high-end subdivision surrounded by the city, is fighting annexation.
The city has filed a lawsuit to block the homeowners' petition.
"When they're driving our city streets and protected by city police and fire, they have a responsibility, as the other 208,000 people (of Fayetteville) do, to kind of chip in and make sure they're helping pay for that," Chavonne said.
Chavonne's Republican challenger is hardly a newcomer to city politics, nor is he a new face in town. A 1982 graduate of E. E. Smith High School and a city councilman for eight years, medical supply salesman Nat Robertson is of the mind that the city needs more growing up before growing out.
"We've got a lot of growing up to do, still, with economic development and other pressing issues," Robertson said.
One example, he says, is crime.
"Fayetteville is ranked the 17th worst (city) by FBI statistics in the metro area," Robertson said. "We have got to look at those numbers."
Regarding the annexation of Gates Four, "my view is that we should let the people go off and let them live their life in peace, not press them with a lawsuit," he said.
Robertson says he's running to make city government more user-friendly.
"I got into this campaign to make Fayetteville more user-friendly for its businesses and residents," he said.
Chavonne says he's all about transparency -- and keeping the city's momentum going.
“I understand the importance of that in government, and I think you’ve seen transparency," he said. "I hope that will continue. I think that it will.”