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Calhoun officially challenges for Ward III seat

School bus driver Cheryl Calhoun, denied an opportunity to run for the Albany City Commission in 2011 because of a technical error by city employees, officially announced plans to run for the commission at a press conference Tuesday. Calhoun will run for the commission’s Ward III seat currently held by Christopher Pike.

School bus driver Cheryl Calhoun, denied an opportunity to run for the Albany City Commission in 2011 because of a technical error by city employees, officially announced plans to run for the commission at a press conference Tuesday. Calhoun will run for the commission’s Ward III seat currently held by Christopher Pike.

ALBANY, Ga. -- Cheryl Calhoun tossed her hat into the political ring Tuesday ... literally.

Decked out in a dark blue power suit with matching hat, Calhoun tossed her hat into the air at the downtown Government Center at a press conference called to officially launch her campaign for the Ward III Albany City Commission seat, then offered a fiery speech worthy of her minister father.

"We can't just talk this; we've got to walk the walk," Calhoun said through a megaphone as some 30 or so supporters shouted their approval. "We've been talking about gang violence for a while; now it's time to do something about it. It's time we quit just riding by the streets of our city; it's time we started going into those alleyways and cleaning the streets. These are our streets."

Calhoun, a school bus driver who transports students in the Dougherty County School System, was denied an opportunity to run for the Ward I, and subsequently, Ward II, commission seats in 2011 when city officials misread GIS information about her residency. She said Tuesday she's forgotten that matter.

"I'm here for our children," she said. "We've got to clean up our neighborhoods. We've been beating the bushes long enough, and now the crime has spilled over into what have always been the 'good areas.' If we're going to make a difference in this Good Life City, we've got to attack these problems at the root."

The Ward III commission seat is currently held by Christopher Pike, the youngest member of the seven-person City Commission. Pike was earlier beset with financial problems and still reportedly owes money for an event he hosted at the Hilton Garden Inn. Businesswoman B.J. Fletcher, who lost in a runoff in the 2011 mayoral race, earlier announced plans to seek the seat, too.

"We plan to hit the ground running in this race," Calhoun said. "We have our first planning meeting Monday, and we're going to work those streets to get people out to vote. This is an important election; I want to be the voice of the people of Ward III.

"I'm very happy to have my 'A Team' on board to help me, people who don't mind getting out and getting dirty."

Qualifying for municipal elections in the city will be conducted Aug. 26-30. Voting will be held Nov. 5.