COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - For 15 years, Lefaye Dellinger has served the city of Smiths Station - from its inception, creation and to the present, where the community has grown as part of Lee County, AL.
As Dellinger announces she will not seek re-election as mayor of the city, the window of opportunity is now open for two candidates who have nothing but praise for the city's first-ever mayor.
"I can't say enough of the gratitude I have," candidate John "Buster" Bessant said. "As a citizen of Smiths Station to tell, and to tell people about the job that Mayor Dellinger has done."
"She's done a great job, since 2001," said Fred "Bubba" Copeland, the other mayoral candidate. "She's kind of an inspiration to me. She's one of the first female mayors in the state of Alabama... I think the world of her."
Both candidates highlighted one particular thing they believe Mayor Dellinger has contributed to the improvement of Smiths Station.
For Bessant, it's bringing in professional consultants and taking the time to ask what citizens want to see created for the community.
"Countless hours in work sessions, going over what we want the city to be like... I think that was a great move on Mayor Dellinger's part," Bessant said.
For Copeland, it's Dellinger's investment in a city park that's served the needs of children and young athletes.
"She's done a lot of things there for youth sports, for youth in general," Copeland said. "She had kept people from going to Phenix City and Columbus to play sports and keeping them in Smiths Station by investing in Smiths Station."
As Election Day approaches in exactly two months, both men said they will do the necessary work to earn the votes of the people of Smiths Station and fill the shoes of a woman with a large legacy.
At this time, Mayor Dellinger has said she's withholding officially supporting a candidate, but may do so at a later time.