ALBANY, Ga. -- As first reported at albanyherald.com Monday morning, Dr. Willie Adams announced Monday that he does not plan to run for a third term as the city's mayor.
Saying that he has neglected his family during his time in office, Adams said that he will retire from city government life after completing his second four-year term and rededicate himself to his wife Connie, his children and grandchildren.
"My announcement today comes, in part, because I have done a poor job over the last eight years in serving the family I love most," Adams said. "My wife, Connie, my children and grandchildren have often suffered because the people of Albany have come first. ... Today, my announcement is a rededication to my own family."
Adams' announcement comes as the first real action in what is now a wide-open mayoral race. According to state ethics officials, only one person has filed proper documentation to raise money to campaign for the office.
Kirk Smith, who was defeated in his bid to become sheriff when former sheriff Jamil Saba retired, is the only person who has formally announced his intention to seek the mayor's office. He has filed paperwork with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission to begin raising funds.
Albany made history with the election of Adams as its first black mayor in 2003. Adams took office in February 2004 after defeating incumbent mayor Tommy Coleman by garnering 60 percent of the vote.
In November 2007, Adams defeated then-Ward 4 City Commissioner Bo Dorough with 57.22 percent of the vote to retain his seat chairing the commission table.
Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard said that despite the fact he and Adams haven't agreed on a few issues, he's sad to see the mayor retire from public life.
"I personally am going to miss Mayor Adams," Sinyard said. "Willie and I have worked very well together over the last eight years. He's an honest person; a hardworking person; his heart is always in the right place. We haven't always agreed, but we've literally agreed not to agree and we get up the next day and go back to work on projects that are positive."
During his speech Monday in front of the Government Center, Adams said that he's proud that he's leaving the city on sound financial footing with nearly $20 million in reserves, but said that the best thing about the city were its employees, staff and department heads.
"As I make this announcement today, I do so with confidence.
Confidence in the capable people in city management, who, day to day, do the job required of them with great dedication and ability," Adams said. "Sometimes they don't have enough people, sometimes they don't have enough money, but whatever the limiting factor, our city employees do the job of the people anyway and it is this that has inspired me most during my time as mayor."
While Adams and the commission have managed to roll back city property tax rates for three consecutive years, secure special-purpose local-option sales taxes for another six years and keep the city financially stable, his office remains saddled with a tainted perceptions from events such as the indictment and conviction of former downtown manager Don Buie on fraud charges.
Still Adams says he believes the commission is moving the city in the right direction. He also said he believes that the next mayor will be someone who rises to answer the call to serve.
As mayor, Adams serves as chairman of the Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission and with Sinyard on the Albany Dougherty Payroll Development Authority.