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Opelika City Council Ward 5

The Opelika city council is the legislative body of the city. It passes laws and ordinances, and creates citywide policy. The city council is made up of five members, chosen for four-year terms each from one of five districts.Opelika City Council members elected in 2020 receive an annual salary of $13,200.

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    David Canon

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    Todd Rauch

Biographical Information

What is your occupation?

Being a leader can be difficult. Share a situation where your leadership was tested and you had to make a tough decision.

What will be your top three priorities as an elected public servant? How will you work towards achieving results in those areas?

Describe at least one situation that you were involved in where transparency and accountability were lacking.

Opportunities exist for Opelika to be a leader in sustainable/green initiatives. What plans do you have, if any, to lead Opelika in a more sustainable direction?

What are your plans for green space and recreational opportunities in the city of Opelika?

The Office of Inclusion and Diversity serves as a vital resource for building unity, equity, and inclusion in the Auburn University community. Do you believe that the City of Opelika needs a similar group?

The pandemic has been hard on locally-owned businesses. How can the city assist these businesses? How should the city encourage and incentivize minority and women-owned businesses to move here and assist all businesses in weathering the pandemic?

As Mayor or council member, you will have approval authority of the city school board. What qualities are you looking for in a school board member?

What do you think of the city's response to COVID-19? If you are elected, what is your plan to protect Opelika residents and visitors?

COVID-19 has highlighted the benefits of streaming public meetings online. If elected, will you commit to live streaming public meetings?

Opelika Main Street recently hired consultants to give recommendations about downtown Opelika. What do you think are the most important results of the consultation?

Are in you in favor of downsizing the local police budget and reallocating resources and money to other social service programs in the city?

Campaign Phone Number (334) 663-2024
Retired Banker with 38 years of experience. Current Opelika City Council Member representing constituents of Ward 5. Was elected in 2010 without a runoff from a field of three (3) candidates. Had no opposition in 2012 or 2016 and was returned to the City Council.
Bankers make tough decisions constantly. Becoming an Opelika City Council Member has presented its challenges also. The toughest decision I remember making was regarding consideration to extend the new SportsPlex Parkway from Andrews Road to US Hwy 431 (Lafayette Parkway). It was proposed to intersect with Morris Avenue. However, the residents of Morris Avenue did an excellent job of organizing and persuaded the City Council to consider another route. We have not finished addressing that project.
Complete several projects that in the works now: Select locations for a new cemetery and a new elementary school. These are just beginning to be discussed. Chose a new route for the extension of SportsPlex Parkway to US Hwy 431. This also just beginning to be discussed. Promoting further development in Historic Downtown Opelika but retaining its character. Too early to say
Had an issue were some time ago There was some question
We are working hard to require larger buffer areas between new construction and existing homes. We have re-worked our Zoning Ordinance and retrained out staffs to look for other ways to preserve green areas. We are working with several different groups regarding preserving or creeks and streams in or watershed and developing land formerly occupied by industry and now being prepared for new commercial development. Too early to be specific, but I will be keeping up with developments.
More interests is emerging for new recreation areas and green spaces. The Opelika Planning Commission is putting more emphasis of preserving and increasing approved vegetation in subdivision and commercial developments. The Creekline Trails Project is moving forward and gathering steam to preserve and restore streams and creeks for hiking and navigating. Opelika supports this project and is assisting financially.
I am interested in promoting this more in Opelika. There are so many variations of diversity and equality. Everything from getting people more acquainted with different fields and projects to interacting people of different persuasions.
We are trying to match those in need to those that have funds. We don't have any specific programs that have funding but are looking for sources and connections.
The City Council makes the School Board appointments from those "recomended by the School Board." Mark Neighbors and other members of the School Board will also make other recommendations. My preference is someone who lives in Opelika and has children attending Opelika City Schools.
The City Council was prepared to vote on a Covid-19 Ordinance, but the governor put one in place first. We will take no further action until we have to, but will be prepared to recommend protections our citizens should take to protect themselves and those whom they come in contact with.
We are already streaming City Council Meetings We use Zoon and several other programs .
I attended both recent meetings that Opelika hosted. This is still a work in Progress. The attendance was very good at the first meeting and a few less at the second meeting. It was a very thorough presentation by local, state and national representatives and they all seemed to be very impressed with what has already been done in Opelika,. I support the program 100%.
No, we have recently upped our police officers salaries and now our salaries exceed most neighboring towns. Any other social services that are added by the city will be funded from other resources. We have an excellent police department and officers.
Campaign Phone Number (334) 610-1750
I serve as Vice President of the Community Foundation of East Alabama. I am responsible for supporting local non-profits by executing events like Opelika Giving Day. I also assist in the creation of scholarships & endowments to help fill the needs in our community.
I sit on the MEND Funding Table that helps families and victims of the March 3 tornados. At the beginning of COVID-19, stocks began to plummet and endowments began to fall, which fund our recovery efforts. By leading the charge with a new plan for funding, I was able to connect Alabama Rural Ministries, United Way & EAMC Foundation together & agree on a plan to resolve the threat COVID-19 posed to the long-term recovery process. With the solution in hand, I had to then get approval from my board. By being active in the long-term recovery process and my willingness to understand all the aspects that go into it, my board had confidence in me and the relationships that I’ve made, to make sure that I would see it through to the end. My strongest leadership trait is building relationships. I have an innate ability to listen and understand what other people or organizations bring to the table and connect them with like minded people or organizations to better help them achieve their goals.
My 3 priorities are Accessibility, Communication & Transparency. We need someone who isn’t going to wait for the community to come to them but will be proactive in engaging people & their concerns right where they live. I plan on being ACCESSIBLE via phone, social media, & also through quarterly community meetings where people can engage in person. I also believe it is the responsibility of our elected public servants to go above and beyond to make sure they keep the public informed. Improved COMMUNICATION goes hand in hand with the accessibility improvements I’ve described. By engaging members in our community, I want to foster a culture that encourages people to offer feedback and pursue being an active member of our community. When the City Council passes an ordinance, or spends taxpayer’s money, there should be more TRANSPARENCY. As public servants we serve at the pleasure of the people, and anytime the people are cut out of the picture, the farther from liberty we fall.
As a Veteran, I have to constantly deal with the Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA is notorious for its transparency issues, and lack of accountability, on both the State and Federal levels. However, there are programs within the VA that are more helpful and informative than others. In order to mitigate our vulnerable Veterans from feeling like they are alone, I’ve teamed up with other passionate Veterans in our community to create a support network. Understanding that us Veterans respond highly to accountability, we constantly reach out to one another when we see a need arise.
One of my top 5 priority issues for Ward 5 is to improve and advance our recycling program in Opelika. There are a lot of people within the city, including myself, who don’t recycle because of the additional cost of $10 per month. I understand that there is a cost to the city for sorting the recyclables, but if we really want to make an impact on making Opelika an environmentally friendly City, it should be a service provided by the city for the residents that prefer curbside recycling pick-up. Opelika is 1 of 26 cities/counties in the State of Alabama that levies an occupational tax for those that work or own a business within the City of Opelika limits. What a better way to show the residents that their taxes are working for them, than to offer free curbside recycling pick-up upon request.
As the most rural ward, Ward 5 residents enjoy the most open space of anyone in Opelika. While door-knocking, I’m surprised how many people chose to live in Opelika because of its abundance of trees and nature, compared to other neighboring cities. As leaders in the government we need to always keep this in mind. I also believe the City should take opportunities to partner with local nonprofits like the Creekline Project and Opelika Bicycle Advisory Committee in order to raise awareness of many of the amazing organizations Opelika has to offer, and to help achieve its objectives in creating green spaces and recreational opportunities.
Yes, very much so. It’s too easy for City Governments and get caught up with the traditional ROI’s, or return on investments. However, building on important elements in our community like unity, equity and inclusion is what I call “Return in Intentions.” We constantly ask more and more from our law enforcement officers, teachers, medical professionals, first responders, and our citizens. Why should we expect anything less from our City Government? I have the pleasure of serving on several boards in our community. Creating more diverse boards is always a topic of discussion, but this isn’t a box that an organization can just check. It’s about creating a welcoming and engaging environment for every race, creed, color, or sexual orientation, to be active and give back to the community that they love. I’m committed to focusing on unity, equity, and inclusion initiatives as an Opelika City Councilman.
It may be controversial, but I believe the most immediate way the City of Opelika can assist locally-owned businesses during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, is to temporarily suspend the occupational license fee for employees engaging in trade, occupation or professions within the City of Opelika. By allowing any employee that works within the city limits of Opelika to file a quarterly return form for the occupational license fee due to restrictions and difficulties from the COVID-19 pandemic, the city is directly helping our locally-owned businesses by allowing their employees to keep more of their salaries, wages, and commission earned during these difficult times.

Additionally, we should be proactive by engaging with locally-owned businesses to promote the goods, services, and updates. By sharing more from locally-owned businesses, it shows the community that your elected public servants care, and encourages people to think and shop local.
The Opelika School Board determines the policies for the control, operation, maintenance, and improvement of the school system. I believe the most important quality for a school board member is to have experience with a child in Opelika City Schools, a former teacher or administrator of Opelika City Schools, or someone with a strong affiliation with parents and youth in our community. I believe it’s also important to have school board members understand that education doesn’t just start at Kindergarten and end at 12th grade. Pre-K classes are important to the education and growth of our children, and the partnership between Opelika City Schools and Southern Union State Community College is important for preparing our students for the workforce. Additionally, School programs should reflect the diverse ways in which students learn and give parents and students the options that are best for them. This can be accomplished by expanding technical training opportunities for dual enrollment.
I believe the City of Opelika’s response to COVID-19 has been good. Moving forward, it’s important for each City Council Member to do their part in reassuring the public that the City of Opelika is taking COVID-19 seriously, and providing information on what to do if you think you have it. We are lucky to have EAMC, and we need to use the information they have to inform the public of the measures they are taking, and if they are working. The more accurate information we have coming from our elected public servants, the safer and more responsible we can expect the public to be. As leaders in our community we should continue to share precautionary measures that residents and families can take to prevent infecting those that are in the high risk category for COVID-19. Most importantly, I believe an ounce of protection is worth a pound of the cure. We need to wear masks to protect our loved ones, and continue to follow our medical experts guidance and recommendations.
Absolutely! I attend the City Council meetings because it’s important for me to know what is happening in our community. Previous to the City of Opelika streaming the City Council meetings, the Opelika Bulletin Board was streaming the meetings to increase access to their followers. I support and appreciate the City’s initiative to stream or record all the public meetings and make them available online, and the foresight of making them ADA compliant by providing closed caption subtitles. Recently, the City of Opelika hosted its first town hall question and answer series called “Get to Know the OPD.” I’m committed to making sure we continue to have more proactive and informative measures that highlight transparency in our City Government, and making them accessible online is good for all of us.
The most exciting and enlightening moment in the presentation was when they said that the City of Opelika needs to treat downtown as its next big economic opportunity. We pursue major industries around the clock, as we should continue to do, but improving the atmosphere, opportunity, and business climate in downtown will do a tremendous amount to establish Opelika as an incredible place to live, work and play for many years to come.
No. The Opelika Police Department works tirelessly to keep our streets safe and to make Opelika a secure and welcoming place for people to live and visit. With that said, we should always be looking for ways to improve and better fund our social services and public safety. There is not an either/or choice between effective services and sufficient policing. They both must be done effectively and professionally.