ALBANY -- In a campaign launch Monday afternoon, an Albany candidate pledged her effective leadership to support public safety, retain jobs and increase job growth in the area and Georgia.
"As your state representative, I will make working on the issue of crime and public safety my highest priority," said Karen Kemp, R-Albany, candidate for the Georgia House of Representatives District 150 seat.
Kemp is running against incumbent Winfred Dukes.
That brought applause that rose from a smattering to a hearty roar from the more than 100 people gathered at the Thronateeska Heritage Center to hear Kemp.
"I am committed to bringing the sort of effective leadership that will ensure that Albany's best days are ahead of us, not behind us," Kemp said.
Jobs are the key, Kemp said. If elected she plans to work hard to preserve the jobs that are in the area with existing businesses and manufacturers such as Procter & Gamble, MillerCoors and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.
Among Kemp's plans she calls for ensuring regional highway plans connect the Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany to other destinations.
At the same time she focuses on retaining existing jobs, Kemp pledged the leadership that would create incentives for new businesses to form and encourage existing businesses to begin hiring.
The emphasis on jobs brought another round of applause from the crowd. One man said he thought jobs come before everything else.
"We need jobs here," said Tom Boast, of Albany. "Without jobs, the rest is all smoke."
Kemp was on the committee that formed Lily Pad Sane Center, a non-profit organization that serves sexually assaulted families and victims of child abuse from 30 counties. She now serves as executive director of that organization, which has grown in the past few years from one full-time employee to 25.
Kemp also took time at the gathering to tell the good news that the governor and the Georgia Office of Children and Families awarded Lily Pond $220,000 each year for the next three years to continue its good work.
The support at the campaign launch came from Kemp's husband, Scott, their daughters Caitlyn and Kellen, friends and business and community leaders.
"She is honest, hardworking and you can believe what she says," said Walter Kelley, an attorney. "Not only that, she shows up and does the job. You can't say more than that."
With the projected loss of seats in the legislature redistricting due to the 2010 Census, Kemp said she feels the need for effective leadership is more crucial than ever.
"We need an effective caring legislator who will represent the thousands of non-profits across Albany and across Georgia who work every day to make our communities better places to live," Kemp said. "I pledge to my friends and colleagues to be the effective caring legislator that you deserve. That's our campaign theme."