By Wil Crews
Alexis Meniefield, lifelong Opelika native and community philanthropist, has announced her intention to run for Opelika City Council Ward 1.
“My biggest goal is to make sure that everyone feels they have a voice,” Meniefield said. “I will not tolerate any injustice; I will speak up.”
Meniefield previously worked at as residential specialist at the Lee County Youth Development Center. During her time there she founded the nonprofit Time Served, which helps individuals with felonies establish new lives.
During her time with the nonprofit, Meniefield’s organization has also given back to the Opelika community by helping single mothers, feeding the youth and visiting local nursing homes –– although health and safety concerns regarding COVID-19 have halted the visits for the time being.
Additionally, Meniefield is a strong advocate of justice for Opelika baby Jane Doe, whose skeletal remains were found in 2012.
As far as her politics, Meniefield keeps it simple.
“I’m building my platform on the people,” she said. “I want to be available, if people have a problem or need resources, I want to be able to always give them the answers they need or assist in any way that I can.”
If elected, Meniefield will be a friend, advocate and leader for her people. “Anyone that I meet is not a stranger,” she said. “I’m a person you could call, and I will try to help you through anything that you have going.”
A frequent attendee of City Council meetings herself, Meniefield is well aware of the big issues facing Opelika: education, economic development, etc. Unfortunately, she feels that many people –– those in Ward 1 specifically –– doubt if their voices really matter.
“That is why I think it’s important to always listen and be aware,” she added. “But there is a difference between listening and understanding.”
Considering her own understanding of the community, Meniefield’s time at the Lee County Youth Development Center helped open her ears and sharpen her focus. One aspect that she found to be significantly lacking is the investment in local youth.
“My main focus is our kids, because they are our future,” said Meniefield. “I want to put different activities into this particular ward for our children.”
She envisions programs, parks and other activities across the entire city to encourage children to stay active and out of trouble.
Meniefield has creative ideas for how to implement those programs and envisions the Covington Rec Center as a hub for youth involvement. “I want to get our parents more involved. Something like ‘Mommy and Me,’ [a program] where mothers and their children could go [to the rec center] to learn and build things together.”
Residing in Opelika her entire life, Meniefield has lived in Ward 1 for the past five years; ultimately, she sees a plethora of potential in the area.
“There’s a lot of empty spaces in our ward that belong to the city. I want to turn those into something positive,” she said. “My ward has been deemed the worst side of town. I want to make it where people feel safe, people feel free to come and tell us anything and we can give them the answers they are looking forward.”
During COVID-19 lockdowns, to raise donations for community needs and in part to raise funds for her campaign, Meniefield started an in-house restaurant selling plates of delicious “Creole-style downright New Orleans” tasting food. In truth, the “Nose Runna Cajun Nachos” –– loaded with chips, cheese, sausage, shrimp and jalapenos –– look like a geaux-to meal.
Meniefield is running for the Ward 1 seat against 20-year-old Auburn University student Jamie Lowe. “I met [Lowe] at a city council meeting,” Meniefield said of her opponent. “Even though we will be running against each other, we’re going to help each other. May the best man or woman win.”
The seat is being vacated by Patsy Jones, who served the City Council Ward 1 for more than 25 years.
The Opelika Municipal election is set for Aug. 25.