Mayoral races heat up in Phenix City, Smiths Station - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Mayoral races heat up in Phenix City, Smiths Station

Top Row: Phenix City Mayor Eddie Lowe & candidate Jerry Barbaree. Bottom Row: Smiths Station mayoral candidates Fred Copeland & John Bessant. (Source: WTVM) Top Row: Phenix City Mayor Eddie Lowe & candidate Jerry Barbaree. Bottom Row: Smiths Station mayoral candidates Fred Copeland & John Bessant. (Source: WTVM)
(WTVM) -

Historic elections will take place in Phenix City and Smiths Station on Tuesday, Aug. 23.  

Smiths Station will be naming its second ever mayor, following LaFaye Dellinger's decision to not seek re-election.  The race is between John "Buster" Bessant and Fred "Bubba" Copeland, both lifelong residents of Smiths Station.  

The biggest topic and difference for these two candidates is the sewage issue in Smiths Station.  Bessant believes that he is the only person that can bring a city-wide sewage system to Smiths Station.

"I am all for it," Bessant said. "As a matter of fact I am the only qualified candidate that can do something with that. This rhetoric that we have heard for years that we cant do this and cant do that has got to stop. We have to move forward and get that done."

Bessant cites his experience as working with the city as reason why he would be able to pull this off.
 
His opponent believes that a city-wide sewage system is not in the best interest of the city.  

"The sewage issue is huge because there are places that need it," Copeland said. "Now anyone that tells you they can get sewage to the whole city is telling a lie, the city at this point in time can not afford that without growing revenue. The sewage issue can be answered by running sewage to commercial properties and problem areas."

Copeland says outside of sewage his next biggest concern is safety, and he would work hard with the Lee County Sheriff's Office to make Smiths Station a better place.  

As for Bessant, he wants to build better roads into Smiths Station, especially connecting the city to Highway 280.  

There is one change in Tuesday's voting in Smiths Station: there will only be one polling location open at the Ruritan Community Center located at 2000 Lee Road 430. 

In Phenix City many are calling this election a tipping point in the city's history. The city's first ever African American Mayor Eddie Lowe is seeking re-election.

Four years ago when Lowe was running for the first time, his now-opponent Jerry Barbaree endorsed him. In the time since, things have changed and Barbaree has become critical of Lowe's decision making.  

Barbaree says that the number one priority should be making Phenix City an attractive place for businesses. 

"Encourage businesses to come here," Barbaree said. "We have to make it easier for contractors to build sub divisions. I know that Mr. Lowe said in today's paper that we had all these subdivisions, i have talked to the engineers the builders the contractors, there is nothing going on in Phenix City right now."

Mayor Lowe says that is not the case.

"First of all we do have development going on," Lowe said. "We have had several developments that are up for review.  We have some that have been approved, and we also have some that we are waiting on to be approved."  He also provided us with this spread sheet to detail the projects that are being worked on.  

Despite both wanting to become mayor, the two say that they will maintain a relationship regardless of the outcome of Tuesday's election.  

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