Ward II Albany City Commission challenger Bobby Coleman trailed incumbent Ivey Hines by only 21 votes at the end of the Nov. 5 municipal election. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)
ALBANY — Bobby Coleman, who came out of nowhere on Nov. 5 to force a runoff with incumbent Ivey Hines in the Albany City Commission Ward II race, says he wants certain of his opponents’ supporters to know that while he’s a first-time candidate, he’s no new kid on the block when it comes to politics.
That, Coleman stresses, applies to dirty political tricks as well.
“There are people who oppose me as a candidate who have stooped to ‘assisting’ certain people with filling out absentee ballots,” Coleman said. “Some of those (would-be voters) have told me they voted for me, but I later learned that the person who ‘assisted’ them actually marked the ballots for my opponent, against their wishes.
“This action must stop, and it must stop immediately. I know who this person is, and they know who they are. I’m trying to conduct a campaign that’s about issues and needs. There’s no place for such underhanded tactics.”
Coleman said it’s no coincidence that his 152-137 victory over Hines in the Ward’s 17th precinct (Jackson Heights Elementary), whose voters cast almost half (310 of 642) of the ward’s ballots in the municipal election, was enough to give him a small lead over Hines until absentee ballots were counted. Hines scored a huge 69-37 win in absentee ballots to erase a 237-226 Coleman lead and claim a slim 295-274 victory in the race.
The third candidate in the Ward II contest, Demetrius Love, garnered 72 votes, leaving neither Hines nor Coleman with enough votes to claim outright victory.
Hines and Coleman will settle the matter in a Dec. 3 runoff.
“Let me be clear: I want to give my opponent credit,” Coleman said of Hines, a minister and IT employee at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany. “I don’t believe he would go so low as to ask someone to commit such acts on his behalf. I believe this is a person acting on her own, a person who is doing this not necessarily for Ivey Hines but more against Bobby Coleman.
“It’s too bad some folks don’t believe in that old saying ‘Let the best man win.’”
Coleman, a medical transport specialist, has been lauded by voters in Ward II as the candidate who knocked on doors in the district and took his campaign to the people. He said he’s not changing anything in the days leading up to the runoff.
“Nothing’s changed as far as I’m concerned,” Coleman said. “I’m still doing what I do. I’m still walking the streets and knocking on doors. My biggest job now is to convince the voters in Ward II to go out and do their civic duty on Dec. 3. It was deflating to see such a low turnout, but nothing’s going to stop me from doing what it takes to win this commission seat.
“I’ve had so many people in Ward II say they did not get the return on investment they expected when they elected the incumbent two years ago. So many of them tell me they’re worse off — and the city’s worse off — now than they were two years ago. But yet a lot of those same people still didn’t cast ballots.”
Coleman said municipal election results, which saw him force Ward II incumbent Hines into a runoff and challenger B.J. Fletcher defeat Ward III incumbent Christopher Pike without a runoff, offer proof that the community is looking for change.
“This vote is crucial because it will determine whether we move this city forward or remain static,” Coleman said. “I offer the voters of Ward II change that they can believe in. When you get close in an election like this and prove people wrong who said you didn’t have a chance, it’s a great feeling. But I’m not after a moral victory. I’m committed to winning this runoff and making a difference in Ward II.”
Polls in Ward II’s Palmyra Methodist Church (Precinct 1), Sherwood Elementary (2), Phoebe Education Building (15), Jackson Heights Elementary (17) and Albany Middle (24) precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election day. The 5,550 eligible voters in Ward II will have an opportunity to cast early ballots at the downtown Elections office Monday-Wednesday. (The five-day early-voting period started on Thursday.) All county offices will be closed Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday.