by Fred Woods
Some 250 residents attended Monday night’s Opelika city candidate’s forum. Rev. Clifford Jones, of Greater Peace Missionary Baptist Church, moderated the event.
In the mayoral segment, incumbent Gary Fuller pointed to the tremendous growth of the city in his 12 years as mayor and particularly his role in bringing the fiber optic network to Opelika. The challenger, County Commissioner John Andrew Harris, agreed that progress had occurred but said he would make sure the results of the city’s success was more evenly distributed across Opelika’s five wards.
Ward 1 incumbent Patsy Jones said she would continue to work toward the success of the Carver-Jeter Master Plan. Most of challenger Greg Jones’ time was spent criticizing Ms. Jones’ tenure on the council.
Ward 2 incumbent Larry Gray said solving the ward’s crime problem would require a joint effort of community and police. Each side will have to build on its trust of the other.
Tiffany Gibson-Pitts felt efforts to date have been largely reactive and permanent programs must be put in place to combat crime such as police mentoring young people in high crime neighborhoods. Nelson Marsh believes Opelika police are vastly underfunded and this needs correcting. Oscar Penn’s response to virtually every question involving a problem was that he has already organized a program to address it. Penn said, “So what I’m trying to tell you is I’m already a councilman. Now all yo got to do is go and vote me in.” Makes you wonder why we have these problems.