ALBANY, Ga. -- There is a direct correlation between the decline in jobs and an increase in crime, mayoral candidate B.J. Fletcher told the Dougherty County Kiwanis Club Monday.
Fletcher, who is running in an already crowded field with still more than a month before qualifying begins, told club members that Albany shouldn't dwell on what it has lost, but rather on where it's going.
"We need to get over what we've lost; don't waste time looking back, go forward with me," Fletcher said. "If we put people to work and get them earning their own money, you'll see that crime level drop."
Fletcher is one of four candidates who have announced campaigns for mayor. Current Ward II Albany City Commissioner Dorothy Hubbard, former State Rep. John White and businessman Kirk Smith have each announced intentions to seek the office, which is being vacated by current mayor Willie Adams when his term expires in December.
Fletcher has made job recruitment and retention the key component of her campaign, pledging to work as mayor to put the more than 7,688 unemployed Albany-area residents back in a job.
To do that, Fletcher said as mayor she'd work with small businesses to identify their specific work force needs and hurdles for expansion.
In her speech, Fletcher also called on those present to get involved in local government, especially the four races for City Commission that will be decided in November.
Along with the mayor's office, the City Commission has four seats that will be up for consideration by voters. Those include current commissioners Jon Howard's Ward I seat, Roger Marietta's Ward IV seat and Tommie Postell's Ward VI seat. Hubbard will have to vacate her seat when she qualifies to run for mayor at the end of August.
Although no definite announcements have been made, Howard has hinted during commission meetings that he will take a cue from Adams and retire when his term is up in December. Postell, who had heart surgery earlier this year, said he hasn't made up his mind about running for re-election.
"We need help from the community," Fletcher said. "If you're happy with your elected official -- if they are doing what you think they need to be doing -- then let me know and I'll work with them as best as I can. But if you don't know who they are, that's a sign they aren't doing their job and we need someone to step up. I don't need to be going to the mayor's office alone in November."