Citizens began voting Tuesday morning in municipal runoffs for mayor and four positions on Auburn's City Council.
Polls will be open until 7 p.m. tonight. The campaign, which began over the summer and continued through an Aug. 28 general election, has focused on a number of local issues like parking, downtown growth and education.
Ron Anders and David Hill are in a runoff for mayor after no candidate received 50 percent of the vote in the Aug. 28 general election. Four other Council positions — Ward 2, 4, 5 and 6 — are also in a runoff.
Ward 3 City Councilwoman Beth Witten faced no opponents and was re-elected to a new term. Connie Fitch Taylor beat Ward 1 Councilwoman Verlinda White, and Jay Hovey was elected to represent Ward 7. Ward 8 City Councilman Tommy Dawson, another incumbent, won another term.
Below are some thoughts from some voters at the polls:
On downtown growth:
"I think that we ought to go back to the 65-foot ruling," said John Sewell, Auburn resident of 40 years. "I think the only reason [they changed it] was because of the Whatley Building. It's been 65 for so long, why change it?"
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"I've grown up in Auburn, and I am concerned with keeping it the Loveliest Village and there have been a lot of things that have been built downtown that are ugly," said Mary Bentley, a lifelong Auburn resident. "I feel like we need to change some of these things."
"I think [Ron Anders] is concerned about how the way the downtown Auburn area is growing so fast," said John Pope, Auburn resident. "It's not this quaint little college town it used to be. I think he will maybe try to hold back on more tall buildings in the downtown area."
Pope also said he thinks Bill Ham did a great job spurring economic growth and creating new jobs.
"I want them to be careful about what they put downtown, and I want them to have the best interests of the city in mind," said Janice Ray, lifelong Auburn resident.
"The downtown aspects are very important. We're trying to preserve Auburn as a nice place to live," said Robert Chambers, Auburn resident. "With those two thoughts in mind, that made me decide who to vote for."
"I'm upset what's going on downtown with the massive buildings. I moved here for the village feel, and it's not going to be here much longer," said Adna Roden, Auburn resident. "I'm supporting David Hill, and I know he can help with downtown."
"David Hill supports keeping Auburn how it is," said Tiffany Perry, Auburn resident. "There's too much student housing places coming up. I understand we're a university town, however, you're not making anything affordable for the families that live in Auburn."
On local education:
"I do not think they touched on [education] enough," said Ann Willett, a local teacher. "I think they focused too much on the downtown development."
Willett said candidates should have focused on the needs of the community — in relation to children and education — and how those needs have changed. She said there is a greater need for support of families who are unable to afford preschool services.
"We focus so much on the downtown, but we need to focus on how Auburn has changed over the last 10 years," Willett said. "The needs of our families have changed. We need to make sure we are providing those needs. There needs to be affordable daycare and preschools."
"The infrastructure has to be kept up for our schools, not just downtown," said Mark Melius, Auburn resident. "There's also mile-long lines at intersections."
"Obviously, the education issue is just constant land grabbing that the City Council has done that's created such huge influx in the size of the school system," said Ty Ford, Auburn resident. "That's my concern as a parent that has kids in the school system."
"I am always concerned about downtown parking because it is an existing issue," said Bri Thomas, an Auburn University senior who voted for Ron Anders. "I also go to City Council often, and I am interested to see what the new mayor and city manager will do as far as downtown expansion."
"My main issue is safety issues in the neighborhood. Lowering crimes around Northwest Auburn is big for me," said Sharon Bradley, an Auburn resident who voted for Ron Anders. "If he can get some economic development here, that would help."
"What brings crime to a city is when you displace people," said Brenda Vedell, Auburn resident. "They need to come up with a plan that will bring affordable homes to people that people can afford, not just high-rises built for the student body."
"I would like to see thoughtful progress," said Cindy DaVino, Auburn resident. "I would like to see more emphasis on not just downtown, but more emphasis on the entire community and beyond. They should serve all populations."
"I would like to see change," said Susan Glisson, Auburn resident. "I would like to see more investment into the community versus more investing into the University."
"There should be more investment in the people who live here 365 days out of the year versus those who just come here for games," Glisson said.
Here are the candidates for each office:
Mayor: Ron Anders & David Hill
Ward 2: Kelley Griswold & Todd D. Scholl
Ward 4: Jim Ryan & Brett Smith
Ward 5: Steven Dixon & Walter M. Northcutt
Ward 6: Sarah Brown & Bob Parsons
Here are the polling venues:
Wards 1 & 2: Boykin Community Center Gymnasium, 400 Boykin St.
Wards 3 & 4: Frank Brown Recreation Center, 235 Opelika Road
Wards 5 & 6: Dean Road Recreation Center, 307 S. Dean Road
Wards 7 & 8: Clarion Inn and Suites, 1577 S. College St.
For more information on the election, click here.
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