As a longtime local, Clemon Byrd, Ward 1 councilman, feels he has a unique perspective on the needs of his ward.
“I grew up in the ward I represent,” Byrd said. “A lot of people that live there had a hand in raising me, whether I spent the night at their house or came over for lunch. I’ve been in the community deep for a long time.”
Byrd attended Auburn High School and when the time came for secondary education, he took two years of classes at Southern Union and finished his degree at Faulkner University.
Byrd studied criminal justice in school, which led him to his career in law enforcement. He worked for the Auburn Police Division for 15 years.
While attending school, he was working with the police division. Byrd said he took quality life lessons from his time as an officer.
“I learned to deal with people of all backgrounds, and it was an amazing experience,” Byrd said. “I really enjoyed my time over there. It taught me a lot about life. I joined when I was 23 years old.”
Byrd said being in law enforcement “raised him” and those that worked with him took him under their wing and taught him more than he expected.
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Byrd said at times he misses the people he worked with and the work itself, but he is grateful for the small amount of free time he has now.
Byrd is married with a son and enjoys going to church with his family on Sundays. Byrd, his wife and son retreat to Waffle House after services on Sunday for their weekly lunch outing.
He now works at AT&T and serves with the National Guard. He was recently promoted to major. Byrd hooks up internet in homes and spends the remainder of his time serving the country and his community as councilman.
Byrd has been serving on the National Guard for 23 years and City Council for two years.
“I’ve just now learned how to balance all of my roles,” Byrd said. “There’s some things that I have to just say no to. You just have to find that balance, and lately I’m getting in the swing of everything.”
With what time he has left, Byrd plays saxophone for a jazz band.
“We play smooth jazz and R&B,” Byrd said. “We gig around Auburn and have a good time.”
Byrd said music is a release for him. He has been playing saxophone since junior high and thoroughly enjoys it. The band has performed for local bars and weddings. The band has been performing together since 2007.
Being a city councilman just made sense, Byrd said.
“Growing up in Auburn and seeing what Ward 1 was going through, I just thought that I could be a help to the citizens of Ward 1 and help the neighborhood.”
Byrd said in the end, he loves helping people, and serving Ward 1 was a way to continue serving the community after working as an officer.
Byrd said his main goals and aspirations for Ward 1 would be physical development and child mentorship.
“My favorite thing about being on city council is being able to go to functions,” Byrd said. “I love being invited to events in my ward, even just a birthday party. Relaxing, kicking back, enjoying people, I really love that.”
Byrd enjoys his time as a city councilman, but his initial election to office can be considered a bit rocky to some, as issues were presented by an opponent after votes were counted declaring Byrd’s victory.
Arthur Dowdell, Byrd’s predecessor, raised suspicions of voter fraud briefly after Byrd was announced as winner. The issue was not laid to rest for many months and recently it was brought back to surface in July.
In relation to the ordeal, Byrd said the claims affected him, but did not slow him down.
“I listened to what (Dowdell) was saying, but I didn’t actually hear it,” Byrd said. “My thing was the issues, and I was never going to talk bad about him. It was never about me and him. It was always about what the people want.”
Byrd said if he were to have concentrated on Dowdell’s claims, he would have been unable to focus on the issues at hand.
“You have to campaign, you can’t just talk about the other person,” Byrd said.
Byrd said he is glad he went through what he did, as it helped him in the long run.
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