Council taps Cheryl Rakes, executive director of the Downtown Auburn Cooperative, to be new council member

The Auburn City Council on Monday evening selected Cheryl Rakes, executive director of the Downtown Auburn Cooperative, to replace former Councilmember Chris Stearns.

Stearns, (D-Aub.), resigned his Auburn position at the council’s last meeting in December to take up his new duties as the newly-elected Representative for Legislative District 47.

Rakes, an Auburn native and a 1973 Auburn High School graduate, was chosen from among five finalists, whom council members interviewed on Monday evening, Jan. 23, at City Hall. City leaders then met behind closed doors to review the candidates, but voted in public session. The vote was four to one.

The other candidates were Katherine Kelly Murray, Clinton Tayler, Tracy Turner and Ofa Langi.

Rake’s top issue as a councilmember will be what it has been for years.

“There are a lot of issues, but my top one is revitalizing downtown and making it more accessible to people and bringing back a sense of community,” Rakes said after the meeting. “Given all my involvement with the downtown, it’s just wanting to continue with that and make more improvements.”

Rakes acknowledged that the DAC does have a contract with the City of Auburn, but as she is not a voting member on her board, she said, her selection to serve on the city council does not constitute a conflict of interest.

“Being the Executor Director of the Downtown Auburn Cooperative definitely has given me skills about how Auburn and the departments run,” Rakes said in papers submitted with her application. “I attend every council and study session and learn more every day. I have built strong relationships in the business community and feel strongly that it helps, because we want our businesses on board with what the Council is proposing or doing.”

“If everyone works together, we can make a stronger Auburn and environment. I believe that is what we all want. Auburn has always been about community, and we need to get back to that in our Downtown Core,” she said.