Henry Mathis, left, and Melissa Strother flank Ward II Albany City Commission candidate Bobby Coleman at a news conference held Tuesday to officially announce Coleman’s candidacy. Coleman joins Demetrius Love in challenging incumbent Commissioner Ivey Hines. (Staff photo: Laura Williams)
ALBANY — While things were “all quiet” in the Dougherty County Elections office Tuesday on the second day of qualifying for the Nov. 5 Albany municipal election, there was candidate action in front of the building that houses the office.
Medical transport specialist Bobby Coleman, who announced in April his intention to run for the Albany City Commission, made an official announcement Tuesday at a brief news conference on the patio of the downtown Government Center.
Flanked by former City Commissioner Henry Mathis and Melissa Strother, the candidate who lost the controversial Ward II commission race in 2011 by a scant 44 votes, Coleman said, “Today I officially announce my candidacy for the Albany City Commission Ward II post. After going door-to-door in Ward II, I’ve discovered there are a lot of citizens who are not happy with the direction our city is going.
“The citizens of Ward II are dissatisfied with the current leadership. These residents deserve a leader with a plan, a leader willing to campaign on the issues facing this city, a leader who understands those issues. I’m that leader.”
Strother, who narrowly lost to Ivey Hines in the 2011 race to fill the unexpired term of Dorothy Hubbard after she stepped down to run for mayor, had been rumored to be considering a second run for the Ward II seat. But she said Tuesday she’s endorsing Coleman.
“Bobby’s been involved in Ward II a long time; he was raised in the ward, and he’s passionate about the ward,” Strother said. “We think it’s time for something different in our city government.”
Strother said that while she opted out of a run for the City Commission, she has not given up on local politics. She admitted that she is seriously considering a run for the Dougherty County School Board seat currently held by Carol Tharin, who is reportedly moving at the end of her term in 2014.
“I think city government is essential to our community in bringing new business here, but having a highly functioning school system is equally important,” she said.
Coleman said public safety, youth and adult recreational opportunities, and infrastructure issues are vital to Ward II and the entire city.
“This government is at a standstill, and something has to change,” the first-time candidate said. “How do we expect to bring industry and jobs here when we fail to address our infrastructure issues? Remember when we used to have an alley-paving program? Where is it? It’s sad that in 2013 a city the size of Albany abandons plans to pave its alleys. There’s just no commitment on the part of the current leadership.
“There’s a total disconnect between current leadership in Ward II and its citizens. I believe any incumbent should be willing to run on his record, to point out legislation he’s proposed to help his ward whether it passed or not. We get none of that from (Hines).”
Mathis said his and Strother’s support of Coleman is important.
“We’ve joined forces because Ward II needs a strong voice,” Mathis said. “Melissa and I, like Bobby, are natives of Ward II. We’re here as representatives of our ward, not like the recent (Albany Herald) news article where the (accompanying) photo showed people who don’t even live in the ward saying they support the incumbent.”
Coleman said he will complete qualifying requirements in the Elections office today.