Auburn city council candidates address residents at Tuesday forum

Auburn candidates forum

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - Tuesday, August 26 Auburn citizens in Wards 1, 3, 5 and 6 will go to the polls to vote their next council member.

This week a series of forums are being held to put a face to the name and let residents ask their own questions when deciding who gets their vote.

"Education is our livelihood and we have to maintain that," says Ward 3 candidate, Wendell McLain.

City schools were a hot topic during Tuesday's forum.

Since the school referendum failed to pass last fall and $6 million dollars was pulled from projects such as the Downtown Master Plan and Renew Opelika Road to compensate, residents asked how to balance city improvement with school education spending.

Recruiting more retail seemed to be a consistent answer.

"We all know Auburn needs some more retail and if we recruit actively more retail, that would be helping our tax base and if we can just get more of those taxes with that people spend here, that would certainly help," explains Lynda Tremaine, Ward 5 candidate.

"I do believe we need to continue to diversify and industry development is a key thing for us," says Ward 5 incumbent. Robin Kelley.

"Number one has got to be the schools. It will be in the future, I think it is now," says Ward 6 incumbent, Dick Phelan.

When asked about raising the alcohol tax to help schools, answers varied, but all agreed more research on the subject is necessary.

"With the university here, with the students here, maybe not increasing the sales tax necessarily, but I would entertain looking into the licensing fee, where we are versus other cities," explains Ward 5 candidate, Brad Donnelly.

"I think our people have been taxed enough and it's hard for me to tax anyone, so my answer would be no," says Ward 1 incumbent, Arthur Dowdell.

Candidates also addressed the growth of the city and how Auburn needs to maintain its charm and reputation as the loveliest village on the plains.

"I know the challenges small businesses owners face in Auburn, but we can do it responsibly and ask questions through the planning process and we are responsible for it. We can preserve what we know and love about Auburn," says Ward 3 candidate, Beth Witten.

"The citizens love this town and they will stay regardless," explains Ward 1 candidate, Clemon Byrd, "so we are just going to keep it moving forward and makes this the lovelier village on the plains."

The Auburn Chamber of Commerce will hold a candidate forum for Wards 3, 5 and 6 Thursday, August 14, beginning at 5:30 PM.

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