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Monday, Oct 2, 2023 | Latest Print Edition

Council announces new members after the municipal election

Auburn residents turned out to decide who would represent them on the City Council on Tuesday, Aug. 23. Photo by Daniel Schmidt.
Auburn residents turned out to decide who would represent them on the City Council on Tuesday, Aug. 23. Photo by Daniel Schmidt.

In an election characterized by low turnout, Auburnites chose on Tuesday to stay the course and returned all three incumbents on the ballot to the City Council.

Voters also selected two new Councilmen with deep roots in the Loveliest Village to fill vacated seats.

Elections for Mayor and Wards 3, 4 and 8 were not held due to the lack of at least one other candidate for those offices.

After the unofficial results were announced at City Hall, Councilman Bob Parsons said that the fact all incumbents won spoke for itself.

“When you have representatives at the caliber of Connie Fitch-Taylor and Kelley Griswold, they are very well-loved in their communities because they do the work and make relationships, just like I do,” Parsons said. “I think this city election really reflects the idea that voting citizens are paying attention, and I believe we’ve raised the game by being neighborhood representatives.”

In Ward 1, incumbent Councilwoman Connie Fitch-Taylor defeated her challenger and former Ward 1 Councilman Arthur Dowdell, Sr. with 70.4% of the vote. 

A native daughter of Auburn, Fitch-Taylor has spent her entire life as a resident of Ward 1. 

For more than 25 years, she has worked locally with Auburn University and Tuskegee University as the Assistant to the Vice President and the Director of Facilities Management, respectively. 

No stranger to Auburn city government, Fitch-Taylor has spent more than 15 years working with the City Council, Lee County Commission and state representatives on issues facing the City of Auburn.

In Ward 2, incumbent Councilman Kelley Griswold defeated upstart challenger Paul West, a local businessman and Iraq War veteran, with 61.3% of the vote. 

Erica Benson waves at a passing motorist while showing her support for Ward 2 candidate and incumbent Councilman Kelley Griswold in front of the Frank Brown Recreation Center on Tuesday, Aug. 23. Griswold later won his reelection campaign. Photo by Daniel Schmidt.

Upon graduating from Auburn University in 1977, Griswold became a commissioned Army officer. 

After retiring as a colonel, Griswold served as Deputy Director for Operations at the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center and Vice President of Sigmatech, Inc.

Griswold first ran for City Council in 2018.

In Ward 5, Sonny Moreman secured the seat vacated by Steven Dixon by defeating local businesswoman and Auburn University alumna Sarah Jane Levine and Leah Billye Welburn, an engineer and Auburn University alumna, with 56.3% of the vote to Levine’s 35.2% and Welburn’s 8.5%.

A native son of Auburn, Moreman is an Auburn High School and Auburn University graduate that served as a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force for more than 28 years. 

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After retiring from the Air Force, Moreman began working locally as a financial advisor. 

He and his wife, Joan, have both taught Sunday school at Lakeview Baptist Church for more than 32 years.

In Ward 6, incumbent Councilman Parsons defeated his challenger, Phillip Pollard, a stay-at-home father and former City of Auburn employee, with a whopping 85.3% of the vote.

A native Australian, Parsons immigrated to the United States in 1994.

He initially settled in Chicago, where he served as a 911 dispatcher until 2002 when he moved to Auburn.

After moving to The Loveliest Village on the Plains, Parsons served as a 911 dispatcher in Opelika and eventually as a firefighter for the City of Opelika. 

He first ran for City Council in 2018.

In Ward 7, Max Coblentz won his bid to fill the seat vacated by Jay Hovey by defeating Greg Lane, a local businessman and Auburn alumnus, with 61% of the vote.

Originally from Montgomery, Ala., Coblentz moved to Auburn in 2003 to attend Auburn University.

After graduating in 2007 with a bachelor’s in Finance, he began a career in commercial lending with several banks in Auburn and Opelika over the years. 

A father of three young children, Coblentz had made supporting and improving Auburn City Schools the central component of his campaign along with investing in areas for families as the city continues to grow.

As of Aug. 23, the results of the election were considered unofficial. For the results to become official, the City of Auburn must canvas the election to determine that all votes were correctly counted and cast properly and then certify the election.

Once the election results are confirmed official, winning candidates will be sworn into their respective offices. 

The final unofficial results of the Auburn City Council elections held on Tuesday, Aug. 23. Results are not considered official until officials canvas and certify the votes. Photo by Daniel Schmidt.

Daniel Schmidt | Assistant News Editor

Daniel Schmidt, senior in journalism, is the assistant news editor for the Auburn Plainsman. 

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