Service Gives a Second Chance

by April 14, 2011

Charles Evans, a very modest man, with tremendous people skills, was elected to the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners in November of 2010.  His election is another step in a remarkable, unlikely journey.

A Fayetteville native, Mr. Evans enlisted in the military in 1977, after a fairly uneventful high school attendance at Terry Sanford.  His three (3) year military career, served at Ft. Bragg, proved to be the beginning of his downward spiral from substance abuse (marijuana) to addiction to alcohol and cocaine, to a felony conviction in 1991.

After the military, Commissioner Evans worked as a bellman at Holiday Inn, in customer service for American Airlines, US Air and United Express.  Although he was always an exemplary employee his addiction led him to misappropriate property at United Express and resulted in him pleading guilty to embezzlement.  He’s a member of the Second Baptist Missionary Baptist Church.

For many, a history of drug addiction and a criminal record would preclude consideration of elective politics and put elective office out of reach even if it were considered.  However, for Charles Evans, it caused him take a long look in the mirror and to make a decision to address his addiction and to commit himself to public service.  After entering rehabilitation he has remained substance free for almost ten (10) years.  His commitment to public service is demonstrated by his seven (7) year service as a Democratic Party precinct chair, service on the Fayetteville City Zoning Board, Planning Board and Parks & Recreation Board. 

In 2005 he ran against and incumbent and was elected to the Fayetteville City Council for the first of two (2) terms.  In 2009 he was defeated in his third race for City Council.  Undeterred, the following year he ran against a former commissioner, won his seat on County Commission and became the first black elected at-large in more than 25 years.

In the past, he served as 2nd vice president of the state youth council of the NAACP and is presently a member of the Fayetteville Branch of the NAACP.  He also serves on the policy committee for the county commissioners as well as on the board of directors for the Cape Fear valley hospital system.  He also has a program called "Project Fresh Start" that provides information, such as housing, resume’ preparation and employment opportunities to individuals convicted of felonies.

Commissioner Evans says that having to face up to his transgressions eventually became a strength and “As people go through life & have to deal with different struggles, with prayer, persistence & determination they can beat all odds”

Not satisfied to rest on his laurels, he plans to attend a local college or university where he’ll pursue a degree in Political Science.  Obviously, with people skills and determination, this role model and public servant will experience many more successes in his future.

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