State Rep. Ed Rynders, from left, Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Chairman Jim Deal, Rep. Carol Fullerton, Rep. Gerald Greene and Chamber President and CEO Chris Hardy are shown after the organization honored local state legislators Thursday for their contributions to the area during the past legislative session. (Staff Photo: Terry Lewis)
ALBANY — The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Affairs Committee held its annual appreciation luncheon Thursday to say thank you the area’s local delegation for a “successful 2014 General Session.”
State representatives Carol Fullerton, D-Albany, Ed Rynders, R-Leesburg and Gerald Greene, R-Cuthbert were in attendance. Rep. Winfred Dukes, D-Albany, and Sen. Freddie Powell-Sims, D-Dawson were unable to attend because of previous commitments.
“We want to show our appreciation to our state delegation because this past session was very good for us,” Chamber President and CEO Chris Hardy said.
Greene, who is defending his House 151 seat against Democratic newcomer Ezekiel Holley of Dawson, said things are getting better for Southwest Georgia.
“The entire state of Georgia is moving forward, unemployment is falling statewide and times are also changing for the better for south Georgia,” Green said. “Much of that change has occurred because our governor (Nathan Deal) has been focusing on the needs of our state.”
Greene added that additional money for road projects and education were provided during the last session because of the bond formed between the local legislators and their constituents.
“As a group, (the local delegation) are closer to the people than many of our colleagues in Atlanta. I think that closeness has made us more effective,” Greene said. “That and working closely with the Chamber helped this delegation bring home a lot of bacon to the area.”
Fullerton, who is running against Darrel Ealum and Muarlean Edwards for the House 153 seat, agreed with Greene.
“I am a yellow dog Democrat and have been all of my life, but we have to work together for Southwest Georgia,” Fullerton said. “This is my 14th campaign and if I am willing to go through it you know that I am serious about serving you. These are both challenging and exciting times, but I believe in Southwest Georgia and feel a revival coming on.”
Rynders said while the local delegation doesn’t always agree, in the end they all work together for the betterment of the region.
“I am thankful for Albany and Southwest Georgia because it is a special place,” Rynders said. “I know the people and realize that politically we aren’t always on the same page. As the retail and economic engine of Southwest Georgia, what’s good for Albany is good for the rest of us.”
Rynders then pointed to outgoing Dougherty Commission Chair Jeff ‘Bodine’ Sinyard as an example of cooperation and the fine art of compromise.
“When you talk about cooperation, think about Bodine who could work with both sides as well as anyone in the state,” Rynders said. “Well, he’s gone now and no matter who takes his place, there will be a learning curve. The Chamber will have to be the conduit to fill that gap in Atlanta until the new chair can walk into the governor’s or speaker’s office and be able to leave with something.”