ALBANY – Following a busy first day of qualifying for the local November municipal election on Monday, Day 2 was a little more subdued with only one candidate officially joining the fray.
Albany firefighter Tracy Taylor arrived at the Voter Registration and Elections Office at about 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Taylor joins four candidates who paid the mayoral qualifying fee of $750 on Monday for a spot on the November ballot that will also include races in Albany City Commission Wards I, IV and VI.
On Monday, Edward Allen, Bo Dorough, Henry Mathis and James Pratt Jr. qualified to seek the mayor’s seat currently held by Dorothy Hubbard. Dorough and Mathis are former Albany city commission members, while Allen and Pratt have not sought office before.
While seeking the nonpartisan mayor’s seat, Taylor, 35, is not bashful about discussing his being the first black chairman of the Dougherty County Republican Party. Taylor, who previously has sought office for the Dougherty County Commission, mayor and state representative, also serves on the city’s Department of Community and Economic Development.
“We have a host of issues that need to be addressed,” Taylor said. “Public safety is a big issue to my heart because I’m a firefighter. I want to address the shortage of police officers.”
Taylor said he is producing a plan to increase the pay for police to deal with high attrition in the force, as well as for fire and EMS personnel, one that doesn’t involve an increase in property taxes.
“Also I want to be a strong advocate up and down our state to fight for manufacturing jobs,” he said. “Our governor has been active in rural Georgia pertaining to job creation.”
He cited a glass company in Valdosta and a new Taurus USA plant in Bainbridge as examples. He said that Albany being heavily Democratic may be a detriment in working with a Republican governor in bringing jobs to the county.
“That’s a plant that’s going to create over $85 million worth of infrastructure, and it should have been in Dougherty County,” he said of the Bainbridge facility.
Mathis said during a telephone interview on Tuesday that attracting and keeping police officers and public safety personnel also are high on his priority list. Mathis, 64, has made two previous runs for the office.
“Our city employees are not being taken care of,” he said. “We’re losing police officers after we invested in training them.”
Public works employees also need higher pay, he said, and the city needs economic and community development.
Mathis said he would push a comprehensive downtown development plan and to re-establish the city’s utilities board as an autonomous body.
The city is struggling and in need of healing, he said.
“I love Albany, that’s why I’m running here,” Mathis said. “My hometown is in bad shape. The walls are torn down. We need community and economic development in the east and in the south and a portion of the north. South Albany is a food desert.”
On Monday, two candidates qualified to seek the Ward 6 Albany City Commission post. Those candidates are John Hawthorne and Leroy Smith.
Smith, 62, a retired military veteran and Albany native, said he would work with the other commission members to move the city forward.
He identified three key issues during a Tuesday telephone interview.
“First, to do everything that I can to assure public safety is (maintained),” he said.
His second focus would be infrastructure, particularly the city’s sewage system. Third, he said he thinks the city’s image needs some improvement.
“The reason I’m running is I have an ambition to serve the public and help out in my ward,” Smith said. “(And) also to be able to work with the rest of the commissioners in the work they’re doing now in serving the city of Albany.”
Qualifying continues through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the elections office located at 222 Pine Ave., Suite 220.