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Hillsman to fill vacancy on Aviation Commission

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Albany City Commission has tentatively voted to appoint local businessman Sanford Hillsman to the Albany-Dougherty County Aviation Commission.

If approved during the commission's night meeting later this month, Hillsman will fill the vacancy left by the unexpected death of longtime commissioner Bill Underwood.

Tuesday's decision by the city contrasts starkly with the posture of the aviation commission who Monday night deadlocked on two candidates -- neither of which was Hillsman.

The aviation commission interviewed three candidates for the position during their meeting; Hillsman, local businessman Joseph Watkins and Phoebe's Chief Medical Information Officer Jesse Diaz.

After discussion, the four board members who were present, voted three different times to try and find one recommendation to present to the city commission to no avail.

After the first vote, Hillsman emerged as the candidate with the most points based on a grading scale, but the process was redone after some on the board said that they misunderstood the scoring system.

The second vote left Diaz and Watkins with a tie with the most points. And the third vote, meant to break the tie, didn't.

The aviation commission finally decided to reconvene within two weeks to allow the board member who was absent Monday to break the tie.

Commissioner Roger Marietta, who is the commission appointee to the aviation commission, initially asked the city commission Tuesday to table the matter until the night meeting so the aviation commission could make a formal recommendation, but Mayor Willie Adams said he saw no point in prolonging the vacancy.

Marietta then withdrew his motion and recommended Hillsman saying that his construction background could be useful to the commission.

Hillsman said Monday during his interview with the aviation commission that he is involved largely in environmental cleanup projects through his business.

In terms of community involvement, Hillsman is the head of the 100 Black Men of Albany, a chapter of the 100 Black Men of America -- an organization that strives to mentor black men and increase the quality of life for African Americans through "respect for family, spirituality, justice and integrity," according to their website.