Local Politics

Four challenge Fayetteville mayor Chavonne

Posted October 5, 2009

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— Tony Chavonne handily won the Fayetteville mayor's race in 2005, and with tens of thousands of people soon expected in the Fort Bragg region because of base realignment, he said too much is happening for him to leave office now.

Four men challenging Chavonne in Tuesday's primary election think it's the right time for him to leave and bring new leadership to Fayetteville. Tuesday's vote will winnow the field of Chavonne, Ronnie Lee Peele, Charles Ragan, Eronomy Muhammed Smith and Bob White down to two candidates for the Nov. 3 general election.

"I will give the people a voice in Fayetteville, and I will try to correct the mismanagement that has been going on for years," said Bob White, a retired soldier who counts 27 major issues facing Fayetteville, such as better transportation for seniors and ensuring a good water supply.

"You talk about bringing in (realignment and expansion at Fort Bragg)," White says. "Who better (to lead Fayetteville) than a retired military soldier with combat experience?"

Ragan vows to be a more compassionate mayor than Chavonne, saying the city should be willing to make exceptions for people with special needs. He cited the recent case where city officials ordered an autistic child to give up his potbellied pig because it violated zoning ordinances.

"I'm a little guy, and I look after the little guy," he said. "You have to handle people on an individual basis."

Ragan also said Fayetteville should have more parking downtown, including free parking spaces.

For Smith, looks are what counts, and he promises to beautify city streets and greenways.

"Fayetteville is really the ugliest big-time city in the whole state of North Carolina," he said.

Peele said he was motivated to enter the mayoral race because of the so-called Ticketgate controversy in which Chavonne intervened in the police investigation of a 2007 wreck after a friend of his was issued a traffic citation.

"That was an embarrassment to the city of Fayetteville," Peele said, calling Chavonne's actions obstruction of justice and saying he should have resigned at the time.

Peele said he also favors a consolidated government for Fayetteville and Cumberland County.

"It would save the taxpayers money in the long run," he said.

Chavonne is counting on the growth Fayetteville has experienced on his watch to convince voters to keep him in charge for another four years. He said he expects more population and job growth in the coming years.

"I think the city is moving forward in a very positive way. I'm proud of what we've accomplished in the last four years," he said.

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