ALBANY — Roger Marietta exuded a sense of calm Friday as he walked around his neighborhood with his wife. He talked with a reporter — stopping every few minutes to exchange greetings with friends and neighbors who are accustomed to seeing the Mariettas in that setting — reflecting on his just short of 12 years of service as an Albany City Commissioner. And there was no sense of what might have been.
“Those 12 years went by so quickly,” Marietta, who lost a close re-election bid for his Ward IV commission seat Tuesday by a scant 20 votes, said. “Sure, I wanted to win that election, but if you pause for a minute and look at it, 12 years is enough. I’m proud of my service to this community, but I can step back now and let someone else represent this ward.
“I’m optimistic about Chad (Warbington, who defeated Marietta). I think he’ll respond to the people in the ward; I think he wants to help solve their problems. I think he’ll be OK.”
As he reflected on his 12 years as a city commissioner, Marietta said he generally saw plenty to be proud of during his tenure. He noted the formation of a Gang Task Force within the Albany Police Department, the use of one-third of credits returned to the city by the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia to create a Job Enhancement Fund that has helped the city attract new business and add jobs, and the installation of new LED street lights throughout the city as some of his top-of-the-head matters he feels will continue to benefit the city.
“There were people who wanted me to run for mayor over the years, and it certainly was a privilege for me to serve one term as the mayor of (north Georgia’s) Fayetteville,” Marietta said. “But I was honored to serve here under mayors Willie Adams and Dorothy Hubbard. I feel like they had a vision for the city; they did a lot of stuff behind the scenes that people don’t know about.
“I’m proud to have been a part of bringing positive changes to our community.”
Marietta says citizens in the region have short-term memory issues when it comes to the city working through the Great Recession that hit nationally around 2008 and filtered its way down to smaller cities like Albany over the next couple of years.
“Revenue dropped, and we had to compensate,” the outgoing commissioner said. “We were fortunate that the MEAG credits started coming in about that time. People tend to nitpick now, but I think we used that money wisely. I think the one-third/one-third/one-third compromise for the city, Utilities Authority and Job Enhancement Fund was a good decision that’s benefited the city.”
Marietta said he hasn’t taken a lot of time to reflect on the close loss to Warbington, which was confirmed by the county Board of Elections on Friday. But he said there are plenty of memories he’ll take with him as he leaves his seat in the city government behind.
“You don’t ask the tough questions like the Boy Scouts do,” the college professor laughed. “Now those kids, they ask the tough questions. They want to know what’s hardest about being a commissioner. I told them those stories I told you (recently) — about chickens and dogs and deer, about responding to constituents and other citizens’ sometimes unusual requests.
“I’ll have to adjust, but I’m going to be fine. I’m ready to spend some time hunting with my grandkids.”