LEESBURG, Ga. -- Local restaurateur B.J. Fletcher took her bid to become Albany's first female mayor to an unusual location Tuesday evening -- across the Kinchafoonee Creek into Lee County.
"I'm here tonight because Albany is deteriorating at a rapid rate, but why should you care?" Fletcher asked a gathering of the Albany Area Tea-Party Patriots at Century Fire Station. "Albany is the capital of southwest Georgia. Most of you work in the city. When your hub begins to disintegrate, you are also going to feel the pain.
"I need your help. I need your neighbor's help. I need volunteers, I need support and I need your contributions."
Fletcher is running for Mayor Willie Adams' job along with City Commissioner Dorothy Hubbard, former state representative John White and businessman Kirk Smith.
Recently, Fletcher caused a bit of a stir when she distanced herself from the local Tea Party movement after growing uncomfortable with parts of the group.
"I did not distance myself from the tea party itself," Fletcher said. I distanced myself from what some people were saying about me and the Tea Party. I still have much in common with many of the Tea Party's positions - but not all of them."
And why stump in Lee County, when many of the people in the crowd can't vote for her in November?
"I'm here because I was asked to come," she answered. "Lee County is our neighbor. What affects Albany affects Lee County in a big way. It is in their best interest to see a healthy Albany succeed."
Fletcher said Albany is sick, and need fixing. She thinks she is the cure.
"I feel good about where the campaign is right now. I've been speaking all over town and I have seen that the majority of the people here are on the same page in regard to needed change," she said.
"Last night (Monday) I was at Union Baptist Church, and there were 30 or so pastors there. We were on the same page and in a comfort zone. I think it is really cool to see so many people who care about Albany."
Fletcher thinks the city is currently caught up with a perception problem.
"We need to rewrite our resume and make it stronger before we can begin to approach people about coming into the area," said Fletcher.
"We can make Albany strong once again. It will take time and will not happen overnight. But we need to change to perception people have of Albany. We want folks to take us seriously once again."