Albany mayoral candidate B.J. Fletcher speaks with supporter Michael Adams while Anne Gray and others look on Thursday during a campaign event at Cafe 230.
ALBANY, Ga. — Albany mayoral candidate B.J. Fletcher said Thursday that racism and apathy were pitfalls that the community must overcome in order to be the successful city she believes it can be.
Speaking to campaign supporters at her downtown restaurant, Cafe 230, Fletcher, who is running against Dorothy Hubbard and John White for the mayor’s seat, said it’s time for the community to shed its racist ties and unite in order to overcome challenges like poverty and a lack of economic opportunity.
Fletcher told an anecdote about a black patron and supporter who had come into her restaurant one day to have lunch, only to share their concern about what their neighbors would think if they put a sign up in their yard.
“She said that she wanted to put a sign in her yard but was scared what her neighbors would think,” Fletcher said. “If you want to know what the pitfall for this community is, that’s the pitfall. It’s 2011, and there’s still racism and apathy.
“Black, white or brown, in this room we all have the same needs, same desires and the same dreams,” she said.
Fletcher urged her supporters to become politically active and get involved in government affairs.
“We have an opportunity to balance the government right across the street and have a voice for all,” Fletcher said.
In her speech, Fletcher also targeted Albany’s self-image issues by challenging those 200 or so in the room to talk up Albany rather than to merely talk it down.
“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” Fletcher said. “If we’re always laughing at ourselves, then why shouldn’t others?
“We need to face things head-on. Quit complaining, and we’ll be a community to be reckoned with.”
Fletcher said that, if elected, she would be a cheerleader for the city and work to build the community up and help create a pro-business environment.
Known first as the manager of the Ole Times Country Buffett restaurant, Fletcher took a leap with several key investments in Downtown Albany like Cafe 230, the D’town General Store and the Downtown Fresh Market.
While the general store is now vacant, Fletcher is partially behind a new bar and grill that is going in that spot and, for the first time publicly, Fletcher announced a collaboration with Jeff Lanier to lease part of his new Homerun Foods convenience store space on Oglethorpe Boulevard for “B.J.’s Express.”
Each of the mayoral candidates will be participating in a public forum Saturday at a town hall meeting hosted by Ward I City Commissioner Jon Howard at the Law Enforcement Center at 201 West Oglethorpe Boulevard at 10 a.m.