The three cadidates for Albany mayor, from left, Dorothy Hubbard, John White and B.J. Fletcher, gave their views and explained their platforms Saturday.
ALBANY, Ga. -- With a population of more than 73,000, about 50 Albany residents turned out to hear three candidates for mayor speak Saturday at a town hall meeting.
Decrying the turnout at his monthly meeting, City Commissioner Jon Howard lauded the candidates, Dorothy Hubbard, B.J. Fletcher and John White.
"We forget they put their lives on the line to give to the city. They don't have to be here. They could be on a cruise," Howard said. "But they have a vested interest in the city. But those elected cannot do it alone. We need a grassroots effort. There is apathy. This room should have been packed."
Rather than the number, perhaps it was the quality of the people at the meeting that influenced each of the candidates into giving polished presentations.
Given 10 minutes each, all three spoke about the major issues facing the city with regard to crime, the economy and the future. All agreed that the police must be supported in the fight against crime.
Fletcher said that she admired the way Howard has worked in his Ward I with neighborhood watch organizations. Her idea is to coordinate all the neighborhood watches with a citywide neighborhood watch leader.
"We have to change the perception of Albany. Apathy and racism is destroying us," Fletcher said. "Jon Howard has led by example. If we could take a leader like him and put him in every ward, we'd have less crime."
All the candidates described their desire to bring jobs to the city. White said he was in talks to bring more air traffic to the airport. He said the airport was losing $5 million a year because of its limits.
White believes he can attract national attention by bringing the mayors of all 16 towns in the United States named Albany here for a conference.
"We must think globally," White said, "but act locally."
Hubbard sees the economic problems as regional and has begun meetings with the mayors of other southwest Georgia towns such as Americus and Dawson.
Every candidate said the city needs to be cleaned up to attract industry. Hubbard and White disagreed on a major blight issue.
White said he thought the long-decaying Heritage House motel on Oglethorpe Boulevard could be rebuilt as a major way to invigorate that part of the city.
Hubbard said, "The Heritage House must come down."
With each candidate outlining how they would line up experts to help economic growth, fight crime and turn the city around, many in the audience who remained uncommitted were at least impressed.
"I liked what they all said, it sounded wonderful," said Lois Davis. "But they need all the people in Albany to go and help them to make it into a better town."