SMITHS STATION, Ala. – Two familiar friends are facing off in the Smiths Station mayor’s race. LaFaye Dellinger has served as mayor since Smiths Station became a city in 2001. Since then, the city has only know her as the top elected official. However, that could all change August 23 (election day) if the people vote in her longtime friend, F.L. “Bubba” Copeland.
“I’m going to be me no matter what,” Copeland said. “I’m just going to be Bubba.”
Copeland grew up in Smiths Station. He and his father own a grocery store in the area. Copeland also served on the school board for 11 years. He also serves as a youth minister at First Baptist Church in Phenix City.
“Along with the other board members, we were able to restructure the school system, save a lot of money,” Copeland told News 3. “We were also able to build a new high school in Smiths Station and make Smiths Station one of the preeminent schools in the state of Alabama.”
Now the man who grew up in Smiths Station is running for mayor. He plans to knock on several doors and sit down with business owners and other people to ask what they want to see in the city.
“I’d like to grow a chamber of commerce,” Copeland said. “Smiths Station doesn’t have one yet.”
The youth minister has an uphill battle ahead of him. He’s challenging the woman who’s run the city for the past decade-and-a-half.
“Oh she’s a very pleasant lady,” Copeland explained. “She taught me Sunday school when I was a young kid.”
Dellinger says she’s known Copeland since he was in the nursery. The Smiths Station mayor had initially not considered running for mayor back in 2001. But she woke up early one morning with the conviction to pursue elected office.She says her experience since the city began qualifies her to run for reelection. She has plans to buy more land for recreational use and annex more parts of Smiths Station so people can join the growing population.
“It takes getting to know the city,” Dellinger said. “You can’t just walk in and think you’re going to be able to do it.”