Pike, Coleman qualify; Rosen puts plans on hold

ALBANY — While an incumbent Albany city commissioner and a challenger joined the ranks Thursday of qualified candidates for the Nov. 5 municipal election, the next-to-last day of qualifying also was significant for who did not qualify.

Businessman Lane Rosen, who announced last month that he would challenge Ward V Commissioner Bob Langstaff for his seat, said Thursday afternoon the prospect of challenging the city’s election laws while taking on Langstaff at the same time led him to rethink his plans.

“I don’t believe the election rules are just, and I wanted to challenge them,” Rosen said. “But in dotting every ‘I’ and crossing every ‘T’, it became clear that I would be waging a two-way battle that would distract from the priority, which is getting into office.

“I have been overwhelmed by the support and encouragement I’ve gotten since I announced my intention to run. This only emboldens me. I will be back for the next election cycle, and I’ll do it the right way.”

While Rosen was announcing his decision not to challenge for the Ward V seat, Ward III incumbent Christopher Pike officially qualified to seek a second term in office and Ward II candidate Bobby Coleman made his quest to unseat incumbent Ivey Hines official.

“One of the beautiful things about being an incumbent is that you do have a track record,” Pike said shortly after completing qualifying requirements. “I’ve been involved in the challenges that face the city; I’ve been a part of dealing with the issues that resonate with the people of the city.

“As an incumbent, I don’t have to talk about the things I plan to do during this campaign. I can talk about the things I’m doing and have done.”

Pike said his involvement in key economic development programs in the city has allowed him to have a huge impact on its immediate future.

“Obviously, one of our city’s biggest challenges is economic development,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to be in a position to have an impact on economic development. All the other issues — like public safety — are impacted by our economy. You can tell people are hurting when you read police reports and see where they are robbing things like deodorant and toothpaste from convenience stores, not beer and cigarettes.

“I believe the Deal-Closing Fund approved by the City Commission (which offers funding incentives for businesses looking to locate or expand in the city) is one of the most crucial economic development pieces we’ve been a part of in the city. Being a part of the Long-Term Financial Planning Committee that put that fund together, I was able to voice my concern and make sure it best met the city’s needs. As a member of that committee, the EDC (Economic Development Commission) and the (city) commission, I got to touch that project three times before it passed.”

Coleman got his campaign off to a flying start Tuesday at a press conference held to officially announce his candidacy. Along with campaign manager and former City Commissioner Henry Mathis, Coleman got the endorsement of Melissa Strother at that conference. Strother lost the 2011 Ward II special election to Hines by 44 votes, and she said Coleman’s ties to the ward convinced her he was the best person to hold the position.

“I’m an issues person,” Coleman said. “I believe in taking on the issues and finding a solution to them.”

Rosen, meanwhile, said his ownership of a residence in unincorporated Dougherty County was the sticking point for his planned run in the city race.

“That’s why I wanted to challenge our election rules,” the businessman said. “I work in Albany; I own businesses and property in Albany, and I spend most of my time — days and nights — in Albany. I spend most of my time in the ward. But it became a 100 percent certainty that my residency would become an issue in this campaign, and I would be fighting on two fronts.

“I spent a great deal of time talking with a Superior Court judge and with four different lawyers, and they were divided on whether I could win the challenge. In the end, I decided I’d hold off until the next election cycle. I’ll use the time between now and then to make sure everything’s in place.”

Qualifying ends at 4:30 p.m. today. Businesswoman B.J. Fletcher is the only announced candidate who hasn’t yet officially qualified. Other candidates already in the three races are Hines, Demetrius Love (Ward II) and Cheryl Calhoun (Ward III).