ALBANY – There were some familiar names and new faces among candidates who qualified on Monday to seek the office of mayor or a seat on the Albany City Commission during the first day of the weeklong qualifying period.
Two former commissioners – Bo Dorough and Henry Mathis – were among those who made their intentions for the mayor’s office official by paying fees of $700.
Incumbent Ward IV Commissioner Roger Marietta also was among those who qualified. Fees for a run for the commission are $450.
Qualifying fees are set by the state at 3 percent of the annual salary of the office being sought.
Among those seeking office for the first time are mayoral candidates Edward Allen and James Pratt Jr.
John Hawthorne and Leroy Smith qualified for the Ward VI seat currently held by Tommie Postell.
“I think it is time for a transformation in the city,” said Pratt, 28, a criminal justice professor at Albany State University. “A lot of our leaders are older and they talk about passing the torch. I think it’s time to pass the torch.”
Pratt’s platform includes the philosophical – encouraging love and compassion to the residents of the city – to ideas about bringing gang members to the table to talk with police to promoting arts, music and culture, including the cultural history of the city. The city could be the conduit for grants to establish an arts and culture district, he said.
“One of the biggest things I would like to see with our music, arts and culture (is) that they work closer with Parks and Recreation, (because) not every kid plays basketball,” the new candidate said shortly after qualifying.
Edwards, 75, a disabled veteran who owns Fialka Emporium on South Jackson Street, said his belief is that politicians should be honest.
“I don’t like cheaters and I don’t like liars,” he said. “I like Albany. It’s a good city. Now it’s time to make a path for the city.”
Marietta said that the city has improved its infrastructure in the wake of severe weather events, including Hurricane Michael’s pounding of the region in October.
“The new LED streetlights are a good example; they use less energy and last longer, saving us money, but they also stand up to high winds better,” the incumbent commissioner said.
Another improvement is replacing underground wiring throughout the city.
“The storms and rain events have damaged our roads, and the city is repaving streets four times as fast as previous,” Marietta said. “We are in the middle of the annual hurricane season, and we all need to start preparing for the next storm. The city is rebuilding all its infrastructure, ranging from sewer system lift stations to sidewalks, roads, and lighting and smart meters, all paid for by efficiencies and SPLOST funds.”
The city has seen successful in drawing tourists and has a historic low unemployment rate of 3.8%, he said, but needs to continue working on educating and training workers and bringing in new industries. Eliminating increased summer utilities rates is another goal, Marietta said.
Qualifying continues through Friday from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the elections office located at 222 Pine Ave., Suite 220.