Albany businessman Lane Rosen says he plans to run for the Ward V seat on the Albany City Commission in the November municipal elections. (July 27, 2013)
ALBANY, Ga. -- There's a reason businessman Lane Rosen asks a reporter to meet him at the Quickie Restaurant rather than the downtown State Theatre he owns and operates, as originally scheduled, to discuss his plans to enter the Albany City Commission race.
"When I spell Albany, I spell it with two L's," Rosen who owns and manages more than 30 properties in the city, in addition to the State, said Friday. "I'm for all of 'All-bany.' This is not about my business, though, it's about my family's -- and my -- long-time ties to and love for this city.
"My granddad, before he passed away, used to eat breakfast at the Quickie every morning. It's a historic part of Albany, and it's a hometown business. I feel like every dollar I spend with a local business is a vote I'm casting for that business and for our community."
Rosen will ask constituents in Northwest Albany's Ward V to cast their votes for him Nov. 5 during the city's municipal elections when the first-time candidate seeks a seat on the Albany City Commission. His quest is a formidable one, as he'll have to unseat three-term Commissioner Bob Langstaff to earn a spot at the city table.
As late as Tuesday, Langstaff said he still had not decided whether he'll seak a fourth term on the commission. Attempts to contact him for this article were not successful.
Rosen is part of the fifth generation of a family that has long called Albany home, and he says his familial as well as business ties have anchored him in Southwest Georgia. He speaks passionately about Albany and its future, but he does not talk specifically about the man he expects to challenge for the Ward V seat.
"Any incumbent's record speaks for itself," Rosen said. "I'm not here to talk about an opponent, I'm here to run my own race. I do, however, feel that politicians have a tendency to get comfortable in office, to lose the energy that initially draws them into politics. I'm not going to do that; I'm not going to turn into one of them. I'll return to being a regular citizen before I allow myself to become one of them.
"I see our town teetering on a ledge. Soon, we can fall off or we can turn a corner and get our town back on track. Now, like never before, we need all the commissioners and all the city departments and all the people to get on the same team. Where we've gone astray is forgetting one very important thing about our government: The power is the people."
Raised by a single mother, Rosen said he learned his work ethic from his mother, Lorie Farkas, and from his grandparents, Elaine and Sam Farkas. Himself a single parent, the generally reserved Rosen said surviving cancer has given him the courage to step out and offer himself as a candidate in Ward V.
"At first, cancer is scary, but confronting it has made me fearless," he said. "It is a big part of why I have the courage to run for office.
"I have recently (in Albany Herald articles) openly complained about some of the things that are going on in our city. Frankly, I was nervous about how doing that might impact my businesses, but I believe sometimes you have to take a side in this world. At the end of the day, I've chosen to make a stand to try and make our community better."
Rosen said his campaign will focus on key but simple issues.
"I believe we have the talent in Albany to build anything our city needs," he said. "My first pledge is to push for rules that say if anything is for Albany, for all of us, and is being done with our money, it will have to be planned, built and financed in Albany by Albany companies. It is a slap in every taxpayers' face that the 'Welcome to Albany' signs weren't built by companies that spend their money and raise their families here.
"I also will embrace the fact that we are a college town. We are unique and special to have three great institutions here. We need to promote them through the chamber of commerce with every breath. And though our public schools are governed (by a county school board), I will use every ounce of influence to get the system turned around. No new manufacturing job will come to Albany if we don't fix and promote our school system."
Rosen said local politics has been his favorite topic of dinnertime conversation since he was 12 years old. But he said it's his "fire hydrant story" that convinced him it was time to get involved.
"If I, with my loud mouth, have to call three city departments over three months to get someone to fix the leaky and dangerous fire hydrant outside my business," he said, "I can't imagine what other citizens must be going through. And that fire hydrant is still leaking right now.
"I take offense to ADICA's focus on just downtown, just as I would any taxpayer-funded group concentrating on just East Albany or just West Albany. We need to fix all of Albany."
Rosen said he will start knocking on doors in Ward V shortly after naming a campaign manager and organizing his support team in the next few days.