Ward IV Candidate Jason McCoy speaks to the Artesian Sertoma Club Thursday at Doublegate Country Club.
ALBANY ALBANY — Political newcomer and Ward IV challenger Jason McCoy came out swinging Thursday in his bid to unseat City Commissioner Roger Marietta, faulting Marietta for the situation with the defunct Cutliff Grove housing project and for pushing a sign ordinance that McCoy says is anti-business.
Speaking to the Artesian Sertoma Club, McCoy said that the residents and businesses of Ward IV have been under-represented by Marietta, who is running for re-election.
“I think we can do a better job promoting business. All of the business owners I’ve spoken with ... Roger hasn’t even bothered to stop and ask them how their business is. If you don’t partner with small business around here, how are you going to help them?”
McCoy pulled no punches going after Marietta, saying that Marietta was a rubber stamp for the commission’s efforts to settle with Cutliff Grove Family Resource Center for a failed housing development and its on-going efforts to build a $15 million terminal and runway improvements at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport.
“Roger could’ve put the brakes on these things, but he’s been nothing but a rubber stamp for his friends on the commission,” McCoy said.
Marietta, it turns out, did help put the brakes on the Cutliff Grove process — twice.
In fact-checking McCoy’s statement, the Herald obtained public records from a series of meetings in which the City Commission discussed and acted on the failed Grovetown development project.
When the City Commission initially approved Cutliff Grove as a Community Housing Development Organization and gave the go-ahead for federal funds to be used for the Grovetown project in 2007, Marietta wasn’t a member of the commission. We was elected after that decision was made.
According to the official meeting minutes of the City Commission for April 6, 2010, Marietta and Bob Langstaff were the only two commissioners at the time to vote against the city paying HUD for federal dollars lost in the failed project. It appears that Marietta only favored having the city repay the money if Cutliff Grove officials were stipulated to repay the funds to the commission.
On Aug. 24, 2010 — again according to the official meeting minutes — as the commission was considering whether accepting the Grovetown property as a settlement of the issue, Marietta made a motion that the commission reject the settlement offer and ask District Attorney Greg Edwards to launch an investigation of the entire Cutliff Grove incident.
The commission adopted Marietta’s motion 6-1, with Commissioner Tommie Postell the lone dissenter.
McCoy also took a shot at the city’s business licensing process; comparing it to Lee County’s process which comes in the form of a 44-page document that helps prospective business-owners navigate their way through the process.
“Compare that to Lee County; 44 pages and they’re going to get you into business. I can’t even get you through our sign ordinance in 30 pages,” McCoy said. “We’re setting hurdles that are too high for people to get into business. We need to be more pro-business and I don’t see Roger doing that.”
McCoy brought up local businessman and restaurateur Bo Henry’s recent struggles with the city’s sign ordinance in getting one erected at the Merry Acres Inn and Conference Center as an example of how the city is anti-business.
Henry was one of several business owners and community members who sat on an ad-hoc citizens committee that reviewed and overhauled the sign ordinance at the request of Marietta and then-Ward III Commissioner Morris Gurr.
The revised ordinance with many of the recommendations from the citizens’ group was offered for consideration by Postell on June 25, 2008 and was approved by the commission on a 5-2 vote, with Commissioner Jon Howard and Langstaff voting against. Marietta voted for the measure.
The commission is set to again review portions of the sign ordinance later this year.
Continuing his speech, McCoy said that, if-elected, he would work to end Keep-Albany Dougherty Beautiful’s “frustrating” recycling center program for a more feasible and effective residential program.
“The thing about these collection centers is that they’re inconvenient to use. Some of these centers will take some things, others won’t,” McCoy said. “I think if we had a residential recycling program where you just had a box behind your house and somebody would just pick it up, it could fund itself if we get enough participation.”
McCoy also said he plans to hold monthly town-hall meetings to keep his constituents informed and that he would be responsive to their concerns.
“I think our City Commission is missing out. Roger talks about vision, but I just don’t see it. It’s little things like this that I can bring to the table that will make Albany better. And I want your support.”
When called for comment, Marietta chose only to say that he’s received a warm reception in his bid for re-election and that he’s choosing to keep his campaign positive.