The time to listen: 20-year-old running for Opelika City Council


By Wil Crews
Opelika Observer

“When I was younger, I found it true about myself that I loved public service,” said Jamie Lowe, the 20-year-old college student running for Opelika City Council Ward 1.

Lowe, a junior political science major at Auburn University, is an aspiring attorney and lifelong Opelika resident. His announcement to run for city council is the culmination of years of hard work and passion. 

Before he decided to run for public office, Lowe was an ambitious 15-year-old trying to gain experience in the field of law.

His first experience came in his junior year of high school. Lowe secured an internship–– that was normally reserved for college students–– under Lee County Family Court Judge Mike Fellows. There, Lowe spent his time shadowing court proceedings and building a foundational knowledge of the court system.

Lowe then began shadowing again. Except this time, under an attorney who dealt with mediating child support cases. It was then that Lowe knew his interest in public service could lead to a career.

“I started doing that regularly, and then it dawned on me; this is something I can do,” said Lowe.

After gaining more responsibility and completing an accreditation course for the Alabama Center for Dispute Resolution, Lowe became a mediator at age 18.

For the last year and a half, on a near daily basis, Lowe meets with parents going through a divorce. He listens to both sides and helps navigate the parents to a fair and logical resolution regarding all the complexities of divorce and child support.

“The key thing about a public servant is their ability to listen,” said Lowe. “Mediation is all listening and understanding people. I think my youth is a benefit there, because I’m less reliant upon the things I have personally experienced and more reliant on what people tell me.”

If Lowe is elected, listening is exactly what he plans to do.

Lowe is fully committed to his campaign, but in truth, he didn’t expect his [potential] introduction to public office to come so soon.

It took three separate occasions for Lowe to see the potential that others saw in him.

At first, the recommendation to run came from a co-worker. But at that time he considered running as much as one considers sky diving –– it would be fun, but is it worth the risk?

Secondly, he was encouraged to run by a mentor, at which point he began to discuss a potential campaign with his family. “I started thinking about what I thought the city was doing well and what I think I can do to improve it,” said Lowe.

Lastly, he bumped into a friend he hadn’t seen in years. She told him to run, and that’s when Lowe began to think, “you know what, I will.”

As for anyone who is skeptical about a 20-year-old juggling the responsibilities of earning a degree and holding a public office, Lowe is certain he can turn their wariness into trust.

“I feel I have a duty to the community, and when you recognize you have a duty, you just get it done,” said Lowe.

He has clear goals and the conviction to accomplish them.

“I want to solidify and push for safety, education and trust in the community. Without those three components you can’t really have a functioning community,” he added.

One of the ways Lowe envisions doing this is by prioritizing resources for creating better diversion programs for young people.

“I would love to make sure that pillars already in our community, like the Boys and Girls Club and the Covington Rec Center, are heavily utilized to help keep our young people involved in the community instead of involved in crime,” said Lowe.

He is also confident in his ability to secure more funding to expand the city’s Pre-K programs. “I want to make sure that Opelika has a chance to put forth as many resources to ensuring that at a very young age, children are exposed to education,” Lowe added.

The Ward 1 seat is being vacated by Patsy Jones, who is stepping down after serving more than  25 years. Lowe knows how much Jones has done for the Opelika community and is optimistic that he can do the same.

“It would be an honor [to replace Jones], and I would have huge shoes to fill,” said Lowe. “I think it would be a great privilege to issue in a new generation of public servants.”

As of now, Lowe is running unopposed in the Opelika Municipal election that is set for Aug. 25.


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