Up & Coming Weekly

October 31, 2023

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 10 of 24

10 UCW November 1 - 7, 2023 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM FEATURE e future begins now. With the upcoming elections for local gov- ernment right around the corner, now is the perfect time to begin catching up on who you're voting for and why. After the candidate forum held by the Greater Fayetteville Cham- ber last week, Up and Coming Weekly was able to reach some of the candidates running to clarify their statements and dive deeper into their platforms and core issues that need addressing in the com- munity. e candidates were asked a va- riety of questions about issues such as: the local unhoused population, local mental health care services, the crime seeping out of Ft. Lib- erty, and their plans for alleviating and addressing these issues at the city government level. Mayor For the mayoral race, we reached out to Mitch Colvin, current mayor, and Freddie De La Cruz for their mindset and plans around the need for more affordable men- tal health services, the crime in Fayetteville and efforts going forward to improve the city as a whole. Mitch Colvin Concerning plans for develop- ing new avenues for mental health services, incumbent Mayor Mitch Colvin had this to say, "It's not naturally a space we're a good fit for, but we have a responsibility nonetheless. For one, putting real funding behind continuing care." Colvin speaks briefly on city government's role in the process of lobbying for more funding from county government. "ere's room for the city in the lines of creating these connections between organizations and businesses." Freddie De La Cruz When asked about his plans for developing infrastructure to com- bat the unhoused problem, De La Cruz had this to say. "at's a county lane. Health and education are county issues. But here's what I would do. Number one we need to leverage our assets and resources. We have to help the county with that problem, however we can do that, either through 501 c programs, clinics, shelters, places that already do this work. "We need to figure out how to connect those people and the county with these organizations and help them work together. Not just healthcare workers. We need to get the pastors and ministers involved too." With his long military back- ground, De La Cruz was also asked about the issue of crimes commit- ted by soldiers off post. "Soldiers are soldiers; you have good ones and bad ones. What we need to look at when comparing the military sexual assaults and crime to how it transitions to the city, which is part of the county, the military has higher standards. "We have sexual assault orga- nizations and the chain of com- mand. Everyone's involved in the process to make sure we prosecute sex offenders in the military. e same incident that happens in the city limits doesn't have the same stringency on the civilian sector in the city. We have so much crime in the city, the gun violence; the crimes we're talking about [sexual violence crimes] are getting lower," responded De La Cruz. Regarding the quality of police officers in the city, De La Cruz had this to say. "What I would do when it comes to reducing those crimes, I'd in- crease police activity. More patrols, more stops. e city is hiring any- one who has credentials because it's all about numbers and getting them out on patrols. "e way I think we need to approach this problem is hiring quality police officers that actually know what is right and interacting with their community and showing their presence where the people are to help reduce the crime and enforcing the law when it's needed. We need to increase the police pay and benefits. "e reason we need to do that is because by doing so you're going to be able to hire a quality police force. Instead of 58 police officers, we're going to have people lining up to be a police officer," he said. "How are you going to pay for it? We've got a hundred personnel shortage in emergency services. We're already operating with that shortage. My idea is to cut that number in half. "We use the money saved and reallocate it to paying for those pay increases and benefits. Once that entices people, that will give us the chance to pick between quality candidates that allow us to enforce those higher standards," he said. District One Next, U&CW spoke to the can- didates for the District One seat, incumbent Kathy Jensen, and her opponent Alex Rodriguez. ey were asked questions concerning the process of improv- ing mental health services, crime in Fayetteville and their plans for improving those already existing avenues in the future. Kathy Jensen When asked about the mental health crises Fayetteville is cur- rently facing, Jensen brought up the Office for Community Safety, a fledgling organization aimed at developing the understanding and necessary solutions to the mental health crises we are facing in the city. She talked about not only supporting it, but lauding its efforts and results so far. "We have already started the process for improvement. It's go- ing to take more resources from the city, the county, the hospitals, the non-profit organizations, and really all of us to sit down and work towards that improvement. We need to come together as a whole community to move ahead towards our goals," said Jensen. Jensen was also asked about her stance on the city council and its efficacy in future endeavors. "Storming, forming, norm- ing. We start out adjusting to the changes. en, once we've found our footing, we can begin organiz- ing. Finally, we can start working together as a whole. We have a young council. "We've only been together 14 months, and we lost 6 of those months due to the census. It just takes time. I see this council com- ing together, and we can begin to really do a lot of great things when we do." Jose Alejandro "Alex" Rodriguez When asked about the issue of soldiers committing crimes off base and its relation to the rising crime rate across military installa- tions, Rodriguez had this to say. "I would treat them like any oth- er scumbag. We'll put them on the news and send the message that their actions will be held account- Voting for a change: Vote November 7 by SAM OLSEN Photo courtesy of Linkedin Photo courtesy of Facebook

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