ALBANY -- While attempting to make a comment about keeping the city's aviation board diverse, Ward VI Commissioner Tommie Postell sparked a racially-charged conversation during this week's Albany City Commission meeting.
City Commissioners tenatively voted to approve the recommendation of the aviation board to reappoint Keith Fletcher to fill a vacancy left in the wake of the death of board member Eugene Jeter with Dr. Frank Middleton.
Postell said he took issue with the recommendation to appoint Middleton, who is white, because he believes Jeter, who was black, should be replaced by another African-American.
"I would like to see a black replace that black member," Postell said. "I don't want to see no Utopia where the board is all white males. ... It sounds like the good old boy system to me, and we need to end that."
Postell asked Yvette Aehle, the director of the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport, why Henry Davis, a black man, wasn't considered for the position while Middleton was.
"Mr. Middleton is a pilot who ..." Aehle said, before being cut off by Postell.
"I don't care if they can fly. I want to know why Henry Davis wasn't considered," Postell said.
Mayor Pro Tem and Ward V Commissioner Bob Langstaff, who sits as the City Commission's representative on the aviation board, answered, saying that Davis didn't submit a letter of intent or resume and that the board only considered two new applicants: Middleton and former City Commissioner Henry Mathis.
"I don't have anything against Dr. Middleton, I just don't want to overload (the aviation board) with Caucasians just like I wouldn't want to overload it with blacks. It needs to be a diverse board," Postell said.
Ward IV Commissioner Roger Marietta defended Middleton and called Postell out on his comments.
"I think he's a good candidate, and I think it's inappropriate to dwell on the race of the applicant. In a way, I sympathize with Commissioner Postell. If he feels African-Americans should be better represented on the board, then he should encourage someone to apply when there is a vacancy," Marietta said.
"Point of reference: I did, and your comments are out of order," Postell returned.
The vote won't be official until Tuesday's night meeting.