Up & Coming Weekly

December 21, 2021

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 8 of 24

8 UCW DECEMBER 22-28, 2021 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM e empty seat for District 3 will now be filled by a local realty broker and Air Force veteran. Antonio B. Jones, 48, was appointed by the Fayetteville City Council in a six-to-three vote Monday night. Jones saw support from Mayor Mitch Colvin, Mayor Pro-Tem Kathy Jensen and Councilmembers Larry Wright, D.J. Haire, Johnny Dawkins and Christo- pher Davis. e three remaining council members, Yvonne Kinston, Courtney Banks-McLaughlin and Shakeyla Ingram, voted in favor of Mario Bena- vente. "I believe that the city is growing and is in need of continual, progres- sive leadership, of which I can pro- vide," Jones stated in his application for the seat. "My interest in serving on the council is truly that, a sincere interest and desire to serve the citizens of the city and represent them in the best manner possible as it relates to any manner of business taken up by the Council." Within 24 hours of the City Council vote, he was sworn in. "I do not take this appointment lightly. Even though it is a short term, I am dedicated and committed to do my very best," Jones said at the swearing-in ceremony. Jones is a broker for Jones Realty and leads the Temple of Faith Church on Camden Road. He also serves on Cumberland County's Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, where he serves as the chair of the nominating committee. He previously worked as the region- al supervisor for the State Department of Health and Human Services. Jones spoke about the appointment and applying for the position. He said he's been thinking about applying for a City Council position for more than a year now. "So when the vacant seat came, I felt that an urge in my spirit that this was the time I would go for it," Jones said. "It was perfect timing for me." e most urgent issues that the city faces, according to Jones, are afford- able housing, youth delinquency rates and consistent and inclusive growth and development of Fayetteville. He says he already has ideas to help deal with these issues. Jones feels that Fayetteville's eco- nomic growth and crime issues are interlinked. When jobs are low, crime in- creases; he also believes that the city should be looking at the high-tech jobs that every city wants and increas- ing jobs for the current workforce. He says that when combatting youth delinquency and crime rates, he will look to the existing programs already established in the County. "I want to look at the prevention and diversion programs of the organiza- tions that we have here," Jones said. "ere is a lot, a lot of organizations that are doing a lot of great things." Jones hopes his new constituents know that he will continue to listen and make decisions in the district's best interests. "My best interest will be that of the constituents," Jones said. "I can stand on my own two feet. I can make my own decisions, with or without other individuals influencing me." Jones will hold the position until May. At that point, the people will vote on the next District 3 Representative. ree candidates have filed, includ- ing Benavente, John Zimmerman and Kurin Keys. Jones has not officially filed to run in the elections but tells Up & Coming Weekly that he plans on filing when election filings re-open. He says no matter what happens in the election, whether he gets elected or another person does, he wants to make sure this transition period is put to good use and that this district con- tinues to have good representation. "What I really want to do, during these short few months, I want the public to know that they will have their op- portunity to speak," Jones said. "I also want it to be known that during this short time, being realistic, it's nearly impossible to address every single issue in this short term. My goal is to get feedback from the community [in] regards to who is coming behind. Whether it's me or if it's someone else." NEWS District 3 seat filled by HANNAH LEE HANNAH LEE, Assistant Editor. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomin- gweekly.com. 910-484-6200. JEFF THOMPSON, Reporter. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcom- ingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. Spring Lake's new mayor be- lieves a new board of aldermen wants to see changes in govern- ment operations. "We need to rebuild trust in our government in the midst of a financial crisis," said Mayor Kia Anthony. e mayor and board took their oaths of office in a ceremony on Dec. 13. State Sen. Kirk deViere ad- ministered the oath to Anthony, an entrepreneur and director of a nonprofit group. She is an Army veteran and a native of Michigan but has been a Spring Lake resident for 17 years. On Oct. 5, North Carolina's Local Government Commission took control of Spring Lake's finances, citing years of mis- management. A $1.8 million budget deficit resulted from maladministra- tion, misappropriation of funds and budgeting issues. Anthony, told Up & Coming Weekly that only one incumbent member of the board of aldermen was re- elected because of the financial situation. Anthony believes Sona Cooper was re-elected because she brought attention to concerns that the firm that conducted the town's annual financial audits had not noticed the monetary issues. Anthony beat two board members who challenged her and succeeded Larry Dobbins, who did not seek reelection. e mayor said she would devote much of her time to the part-time post. "I'm no stranger to a long day's work," she said. e new board of aldermen, in addition to Cooper, includes Robyn Chadwick, Marvin Lackman, Raul Palacious and Adrian ompson. Chadwick was named Mayor Pro Tem. Questions about Spring Lake's finances first surfaced in 2015 when a resident told offi- cials that employees and lead- ers had misused town-issued credit cards. A year later, the state auditor's office suspected problems with nearly $579,000 with town- expenditures and found appar- ent faulty record-keeping from 2010 through 2015. State Treasurer Dale Folwell's office said besides the deficit, the town has outstanding debt of at least $6.7 million. He said this is by far the largest take- over in state history. e LGC monitors the finan- cial well-being of more than 1,100 local government units in North Carolina. Its had its eye on Spring Lake for a while. According to the LGC, Spring Lake permitted the expenditure of funds not in the town's General Fund budget and allowed the General Fund to fall into a deficit. e town's accounting system is also not compliant with state standards. State law says local govern- ments and public authori- ties are required to have their accounts audited as soon as possible after the end of each fiscal year. Reports are due on Oct. 31 each year, with a grace period extension to Dec. 1. Spring Lake's audits have been at least two months late for the past five years, and the 2018 audit was 16 months late. Spring Lake is adjacent to Fort Bragg and is home to about 12,000 people. Spring Lake Mayor Kia Anthony Spring Lake swears in new Board of Aldermen by JEFF THOMPSON District 3 Representative Antonio B. Jones

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