FAYETTEVILLE, Tenn. (WHNT) — With the general election less than three weeks away, the Fayetteville community had the opportunity for the first time to hear where municipal candidates stand on important issues.  

The incumbent mayor, Michael Whisenant, had praise for his city as the candidates shared their views on its direction. 

The relatively conflict-free event in the auditorium of Lincoln Central Academy drew a crowd of interested voters. The forum opened with statements from the moderator, News 19’s own Jerry Hayes, who then pressed each of the mayoral candidates vying to replace Whisenant. 

Resident write-in candidate Jamie Tipton and current Fayetteville City Alderman Donna Hartman took their turn to address issues that have affected the growth of the city during the term of Whisenant.  

“We’ve got to embrace the fact that we are a tourist city, and we need to expand on that and grow on that to bring in tax revenue and keep our taxes low,” said Hartman, who has worked closely with Whisenant during his four-year term. 

“Our population has not grown,” Tipton added. “A lot of the housing and everything goes to the county and other areas where other jobs are at. We lack higher paying jobs to keep people in the town.” 

The mayor says he’s pulled the city through during its toughest time. 

“The most important thing now is to place those jobs but at the same time, we had the pandemic which nobody was prepared for,” said Whisenant. “And fortunately I helped to lead the city and our board through that pandemic. In that, we are financially stronger, and we are very stable and thriving in my mind.” 

The efforts of the mayor’s office go hand-in-hand with the city’s alderman. Six of the seven candidates vying for three seats were grilled by moderator Hayes. But the focus was on the race for mayor where residents told News 19 that it may be time for a change in leadership. 

“For forty-nine years I’ve lived in this city. There have been particular individuals that have always run this city and it’s time to branch out and grow and show people what we can do,” said Donna, a registered voter. 

The general election is set for Tuesday, November 8th.