Incumbent Marshall Pitts Jr. is seeking to win a third term, and challenger Tony Chavonne is running for his first elected office. Both are Democrats.
Pitts said during his two terms as mayor, he has boosted Fayetteville's image by bringing in a new river trail, an environmental court, Festival Park, a transportation museum, new gateway signs, and more businesses to downtown.
"I'm young, I'm energetic, and I'm a progressive leader," Pitts said.
But Pitts also pushed the biggest annexation in the city's history. Now, the city has 43,000 new residents, who were previously residents of Cumberland County. Some of those residents have said they will vote against incumbents.
Pitts said he was not worried about losing votes over the annexation.
"Annexation is always a contentious issue across the state of North Carolina, and Fayetteville is no different," he said.
But Chavonne said he is counting on votes from people who were impacted by the annexation.
"The annexation people are frustrated, not just because they were annexed, but because they don't believe they were heard," he said.
He added that the city needs to reconcile its differences with the county and take stronger steps to capitalize on the military's plans to expand Fort Bragg's role.
"I've had success in bringing people together, building teams, and identifying needs," Chavonne said.
You can watch the debate in its entirety on the WRAL NewsChannel on Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and on Thursday at 10 a.m. The NewsChannel is available on channel 256 or on over-the-air receivers on digital cable channel 5.2.