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Motley, Dobbs, Moffett discuss District 5 council seat in Lanett

LANETT — The most contested race in Lanett’s Aug. 25 municipal election is in District 5 where new incumbent John Motley is facing challenges from Tifton Dobbs and Tony Moffett.

Motley was appointed to the council in June to fill out the unexpired term of his mother, Shirley Motley, who died in the final weeks of her third term on the council.

He told The Valley Times-News that he would like to continue his mother’s legacy as a public servant in Lanett. Motley admits to being in the position of hitting the ground running when appointed to the council.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “The first meeting I sat in on was an executive session that lasted more than two hours. I could tell it was something I could relate to with my experience in business.”

Motley has 27 years experience in project management, budgeting and personnel. He currently works for Alexander Electric in Columbus. 

“I’ve found out over the years that getting things to run smoothly is all about getting people in the right positions,” he said. “In working budgets, I have found that it’s all about keeping them in line and getting them to come out the way they were planned.”

Motley grew up in Lanett and is a graduate of Lanett High School. He moved away from home for a number of years but moved back several years ago to be near his aging parents. Being back in his hometown does have its advantages.

“I have enjoyed renewing old friendships and making new ones,” he said. “By and large, Lanett people are good-hearted. I enjoy being around them every day.”

Tifton Dobbs said he’d like to see Lanett a more attractive place for young families to move to. “We need to provide them with something they are interested in,” he said. “We need for our recreation department to offer more sports other than basketball and football. I’ve seen kids playing soccer on their own in the park. Why aren’t we offering that? We need to offer a variety of sports such as soccer, baseball, tennis, lacrosse, whatever they want to play. People aren’t moving here because there’s nothing for their kids to do. Many of our youngsters are going to West Point or Valley because there’s more for them to do.”

Dobbs had a 19-year career in law enforcement and at one time was the police chief in Lanett. He and his wife, Daphne, run Dobbs Transportation. Their seven-bus fleet is based on First Street in Lanett.

“We were running them all the time until COVID hit,” he said. “We were shut down for a long time but started back again three weeks ago. Thank the Lord, we had saved enough money to keep our bills current. This experience, I believe, would serve me well as a council member. Owning my own business and knowing how to budget for the future is the key not only to saving a business but keeping a city in good financial shape as well.”

Dobbs said that Mayor Kyle McCoy and the current council had done good work in terms of infrastructure (the streetscape, mill cleanup, airport expansion, etc.) but that more needed to be done to attract new businesses and families to the city.

“I would love to see us have some upscale restaurants. I’d love for us to have a Chick-fil-A,” he said. “You need to offer people something to get them to move here.”

“When I was chief I noticed that we were spending a lot of money on gas to keep our vehicles going,” he said. “That was when gas was $4 a gallon. Even so, it would cost us less, then or now, if we had our own fueling station. That would be a good investment. It would cost us far less if we were buying fuel in bulk. Instead of $1.60 a gallon, it might be costing us 80 cents a gallon.”

Dobbs said that since he lives here and has his business here, he can devote time to the city at all hours of the day.

“Since I own my own business, I set my own hours,” he said. “I am available to go to meetings any time. I can work for the city any time and not just at council meetings.”

Tony Moffett was born and raised in Lanett. He’s a 1987 graduate of Lanett High School and starred for the Panthers as a running back and strong safety on teams coached by Arthur Bennett. He’s running for a council seat in the hope of making Lanett a better place.

“Together, we can redeem Lanett again,” he said. “As a member of the council, I will work hard for our citizens. I will support the police. The guys in blue will have my back.”

Moffett said he’d like to see the kind of development being seen on North Lanier Avenue in other parts of town as well.

“I most definitely want Lanett to have a good future,” he said. “I want to see us grow, and I want to see us beautify the neighborhoods. We need to be offering more activities from our recreation department. We need to offer more sports for our youth to be involved in, and I’d like to see something that can have our seniors involved as well.”

Moffett works for the East Corporation, which does landscaping work at West Point Dam and at the West Point Lake parks. He also does landscaping work on the side in Lanett. He has a 26-year-old son who is also named Tony.

This is not his first run for office.

“Four years ago I ran for the District 4 seat, which was won by Angelia Thomas,” he said. “Since then I have moved into District 5 and am running for that seat. I love Lanett and its people. I want to see it become a better place for our citizens.”