by the Opelika Observer staff
The city of Opelika’s upcoming municipal election will now be held only in Wards One and Two, as only Ward 1’s Patsy Jones and Ward 2’s Larry Gray have encountered opposition totheir re-election bids.
Patsy Jones will once again face off against Greg Jones, a local contractor. Ms. Jones previously defeated Greg Jones in the 2008 municipal election, 505 votes to 127.
Larry Gray will run for his re-election against 53-year-old unemployed community activist Oscar Penn. Penn qualified to run in the 2008 municipal election, but withdrew his candidacy and gave his support to Gray. Gray later went on to defeat Arturo Menefee and Jerry Katz in that race.
Mayor Gary Fuller, City Council President Eddie Smith, Ward 3’s Joey Motley and Ward 5’s David Canon have no opposition in their re-election campaigns this year, and were re-elected to their positions via resolutions passed during Tuesday’s city council meeting, first declaring them to be the sole candidate for their respective offices and the second declaring them the winner of their office’s election
Fuller is the first mayor of Opelika to be re-elected to a third term since the city moved to the mayor-council system of city governance in 1986. He defeated two-term mayor Barbara Patton in 2004 to win the office and bested Opelika businessman Rainer Meadows during the 2008 municipal election.
Fuller said he felt humbled, honored and “very, very grateful” to the people of Opelika for entrusting him with a third term as mayor.
“I think the people who have been here in Opelika have seen where we’ve come from, where we are now and how much potential we have for our future,” Fuller said. “Not every town could survive some of the plant closures we’ve had like Uniroyal, but we’ve been able to bring in new jobs and more economic expansion to make sure our citizens have a job if they need one.”
Fuller cited the recent announcements of Pharmavite’s $70 million investment and expansions at existing Opelika businesses like Mando and Hanwha.
“We work hard every day on economic development,” Fuller said. “We are always working to bring new industries and new, good jobs to Opelika.
City Council President Eddie Smith was similarly honored by his re-election to represent Ward Four on the council.
“I deeply am honored to continue to represent my ward, and I hope to continue to represent them well by making the best informed decisions I can,” Smith said. “I look forward to continuing to work with the rest of the council to make sure we keep Opelika moving toward a bright and prosperous future.”
Ward Three’s Joey Motley, who faced an initial five-person race and a runoff with Lucinda Samford Cannon to win his council seat in 2008, said he was glad not to have to face such stiff competition this election.
“It’s a privilege to represent the people of Ward Three and I thank them for continuing to put their trust in me to let me represent them,” Motley said.
David Canon, Ward Five’s councilman, faced two challengers for his seat – Steve Moore and Ron “Tank” McCollum – that was filled by special election following the death of beloved longtime councilman William Lazenby.
Elections officials have said the city would save $15,000 to $20,000 by not having to have a citywide election.