Lee County Board of Education member F.L. “Bubba” Copeland said on Monday he is planning to challenge Smiths Station Mayor LaFaye Dellinger.
Copeland, 42, has spent 11 years on the Lee County School board, representing District 5 that includes the Smiths Station school zone. Dellinger, 72, is the only mayor Smiths Station has known since it incorporated in 2001.
“I am doing this now because I believe I can make a difference,” Copeland said. “I want to see this city grow.”
Copeland and Dellinger have been political allies and friends over the years. He said he was not running against her, but to bring a different direction and perspective to the city.
“She taught me Sunday School,” Copeland said. “I honestly think that she has done the best with what she has been given.”
Dellenger said she will take the challenge seriously.
“And I hope he considers me a serious challenge,” she said. “Bubba is running hard right now. I know that. He has always said that he was going to run for mayor but he would not run against me. I guess that has changed.”
Copeland said he considered a bid for mayor four years ago, but decided not to run when Dellenger told him she would seek re-election.
The primary issue is economic development, Copeland said.
“I want to work with the businesses we have in this city to help them grow and understand their needs,” he said. “But I want to create a chamber of commerce and go outside the city and recruit new businesses. This place could blow up if we had somebody with vision.”
Copeland points to his work on the school board to build a new Smiths Station High School.
“That is the thing that I am most proud of,” said Copeland, a 1992 graduate of Smiths Station.
Copeland owns The Country Market, a retail grocery business on Highway 379 in Salem, Ala. He is also a youth minister First Baptist Church in Phenix City.
The election is Aug. 23.