After I read the open letter that “B.J.” wrote in The Albany Herald, God laid it upon my heart to speak my peace. I was unaware of how seeking public office can take its toll on a person. Things like that were stories I would see on TV and certainly not something that would go on here at home. She did not want me to know how bad the things were getting. In fact, when I tried to ask her about it, she said to me, “Mom get over it. I can’t help that some people are ignorant and have no respect for others.” And with that, she asked me to drop the matter.
What I won’t drop is in telling you a little something about my daughter, Billie Jo. You all know her as B.J., but to me she will always be my Billie Jo. When my husband and eldest son died, Billie Jo took on the role of leading our family. We were living in Valdosta at the time, and I did not have a job of my own. So with her encouragement, she asked me to move back to Albany where she was going to be starting a new job soon. Billie Jo is very dedicated to her brother and sisters and me, and has always put us ahead of her own needs. She is putting her sister through nursing school, and helping my youngest son with his new business. When the housing market softened, she helped her older sister, who is a Realtor in Tifton, get through these hard times.
Billie Jo feels the same way about the people at Ole Times and Café 230. They are her family, too. Many people are unaware of how the name change of Ole Times to B.J.’s came about. Pat, the owner, wanted to sell some of his locations so that he could build a Smokin Pig restaurant in Florida. The Albany location, along with two other ones, would have been closed if Billie Jo hadn’t driven down to Valdosta to meet with Pat and asked him what it would take to save Ole Times. I will never know the price it cost her, but I know she moved in with me shortly afterward.
Billie Jo loves Albany. She and I attend Sunday prayer services at Byne and she often says a prayer for the people of Albany. I have asked her many times what the difference of being the mayor will mean, and she says that she will be able to give back in greater service to others. I believe in my daughter, and she believes in Albany. She is my child and always will be. I would be honored if you would consider voting for her as the next mayor of Albany.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Lois Fletcher is the mother of mayoral candidate B.J. Fletcher.