7 candidates for mayor: Unity key to success in Opp

Published 1:21 am Friday, August 12, 2016


The Opp Chamber of Commerce on Thursday night held a forum for Opp political candidates. Mayoral candidates were among those who stated their positions on numerous issues on why they should be elected on Aug. 23.

Becky Bracke

Bracke said that her entire family is invested in Opp.

becky-bracke“When I was 29 years old, I saw a need for daycare in Opp,” she said. “Now, daycare was a new concept at that time, but we opened Becky’s Kinder College. It will be in business 39 years this September.”

Bracke said when she was 50, she said there was a need for elder care and she opened the Woodmore Assisted Living.

She said she has been a part of every sporting event in Opp.

“I did not just become invested in Opp when I decided to run for mayor,” she said. “I have been here my whole life. Will being involved and being invested in Opp make me a good mayor? No, not really, but think about this. I have been invested with the citizens of Opp from 3 weeks old to 106 years old. I think I have a little bit of knowledge about what we want and what we need.”

Bracke said there are much bigger problems to solve in Opp than jobs, Depot, etc.

“I am more sad about our community than I have ever been. We are so divided, and we are going to get nowhere as divided as we are. We have got to come together as a team for the betterment of Opp. Building a strong team that works well together that is a trait of a good leader. The opposite is true. A weak and dysfunctional team is a result of poor leadership. We have got to have a leader that you trust.”

All three—trust, communication and listening skills – a leader that you want to work with, she said.

Deborah Dean

Dean said she felt that her involvement in business qualifies her to be the next leader in Opp.

Debra Dean

Debra Dean

Dean has worked at Opp Micolas Credit Union since she was in high school. She also owns to other businesses.

She attributes her success to strong work ethic, honesty and moral, ethical value.

“When I decided to enter this race I felt like Opp needed leadership,” she said. “A leader who could actually communicate and cooperate with all city officials. A successful city government will only happen when you have a good working relationship between the mayor, city council and all the citizens.”

She said she wanted to get back to being a city known for opportunity – attracting new businesses and residents and keeping young people in Opp.

“We have to work together,” she said.

She also said it was important for the city to work to keep businesses in Opp by listening to their needs and offering them incentives.

T.D. Morgan

“I don’t have a whole lot of negativity,” he said. “I just have some things I want to talk about that I’ve seen in my 3.5 years on the city council. I’ve seen money go out the door that could have been coming to Opp. Everyone knows I’m a big school person. I support our school system. I saw $78,000 leave Opp, Ala., and go to Montgomery, when it could have come right here in Opp, which would have probably been almost enough to pay the 20 percent on our Depot.”

T.D. Morgan

T.D. Morgan

Morgan was referring to fees paid to a Montgomery firm related to refinancing a bond issue.

Morgan said he was for fixing the depot, but he wasn’t for putting $492,000 of taxpayer money into it.

“I won’t do it,” he said. “And they can’t bribe me. I can’t be bought.

“I heard someone say about getting the council together,” he said. “Uh-uh. Don’t do that. You get caught they say. Don’t have a cup of coffee with a friend. We know where all that come from.”

Morgan said four years ago, people were asked to vote for change.

“Are you satisfied with your change?” he asked. “I ain’t. OK, I don’t want Opp to look like Fort Walton. I don’t want it to look like Destin. I want Opp to be Opp.”

Morgan said that Opp can’t buy its way into prosperity.

“I just hope we have enough money left when the next mayor takes office,” he said.

Haywood Nawlin

Ambulance company owner Nawlin said he’s been in Opp since he came off the farm.

Haywood Nawlin

Haywood Nawlin

“I’ve seen mayors, councilmen, chiefs – a bunch of them come and go,” he said. “I would like to see everyone treated equal. Quit this business of my buddy and this that the other. If you break the law, pay the fine. If I get to be the mayor. If I have a man working for me, if he does the job, I’ll back him up.”

He’d like to see industry and business.

“We need to do something inside,” he said. “Why are we not trying to back these business, we are just letting them go. How many of these businesses did the city go to them and say what can we do to help?”

Nawlin said all that needs to be done is do what’s right.

He wants to fix the library, too, but said that money isn’t put in the right place.

“We all have to work together,” he said.

He wants to institute a community meeting, where locals have a say so.

Mack Whatley

Whatley spoke on recycling, body cameras for police officers, striping grape juice and the Zika virus.



“My philosophy is do what’s right, what’s fair that’s what justice is about,” he said. “We need cameras on all these police to protect the people and the police.”

He said his main platform is recycling and painting the roads.

“I came down Brantley Street the other night and I jumped up on the curb because I was meeting someone,” he said. “It’s not striped. They pave the road and then they don’t paint the road. How expensive is it? It’s buffoonery. It’s common sense. That’s what you need. They haven’t done it for 30 years. I got home and I was Ohhh, me.

“I can’t see at night,” he said. “I can see in the daytime. It’s dangerous.”

Whatley said he’s been recycling for 15 years.

“You’ve got five things: paper, plastic, ones with the rectangle on it. Wash them out. Rinse them off put in a bag. My grape juice. Concord grape. I take that for arthritis.”

Then he asked about the Zika Virus.

“What about the Zika Virus?” he said. “Anyone heard of a purple martin? I’m going to cover the city of Opp with martin gourds. Protect our kids. They kill a 1,000 mosquitos a day. That’s what they say. Mosquitos next to a red bug is probably the most amazing son-of-a-gun on this planet for his size.”


Wayne Wood

Wood said he knew what it was like to have to leave Opp to provide for his family.

Wayne Wood

Wayne Wood

But now that he’s retired, he has the time and no distractions to do the mayor’s job.

Wood said that negative energy is a deterrent for the city’s progress, but said there was a lot of potential in the city.

“We have got a lot of intelligent people here. They want to be creative and innovative and we need to allow that to happen,” he said.

He also said the city needs one seed planted on the bypass and he believes it will grow.



Bartholomew, who is the incumbent, discussed his four years in office.

“The last four years, we have made progress and it has been for the best,” he said. “I can see it’s better. Four years ago we had worn out vehicles and equipment at the OPD.”

Bartholomew said he worked with the chief to replace the vehicles and get better equipment. He also said the police force is more diverse and better represents the city’s population.

“Our fire department is considered one of the best in the state,” he said.

Equipment has been updated in the street department, as well, he said.

And infrastructure and an access road on the bypass was also constructed.

Bartholomew said in the last four years, he’s been able to refund $17 million in bond funds and get back more than $1 million for city use. He also discussed refinancing the airport debt and getting a better percentage or debt for the city.

He also said the city has a new pool.

“Are we where I want us to be?” he asked. “Certainly not. Are we on the right track? I believe we are.”

He said he is willing to work to get there.”

Bartholomew said he is working to help get the city back to being the new city of Opportunity.

“Are we moving at the pace I want us to?” he said. “No, not at all. We continue to find new obstacles and missing pieces of the puzzle.”

He said he was working to overcome obstacles to make the city a 21st century city.