ALBANY -- It's been building for months now, this undercurrent demand for change in local government.
Well, if the citizens of Albany wanted change, they're going to get it.
In a stunning upset, attorney and former Albany City Commissioner Bo Dorough edged incumbent two-term Mayor Dorothy Hubbard 4,656 votes to 4,366 in Tuesday's mayoral runoff election to unseat Hubbard.
Completing a sweeping change that will see the Albany city government with three new members, Demetrius Young edged John Hawthorne 662 votes to 609 to claim the Ward VI seat currently held by Tommie Postell, who chose not to run for health reasons.
With Chad Warbington's victory over incumbent Ward IV Commissioner Roger Marietta during the Nov. 5 municipal election, the commission will take on a new tenor come January.
But no victory was as surprising as Dorough's, although he claimed that he felt confident he could win when he entered the race.
"I wouldn't have run if I hadn't thought I could win," Dorough said moments after returns showed that he had a large enough lead to claim the victory over Hubbard. ""I was disappointed in the turnout, but I know I can and will do this job well. I am not going to be a do-nothing mayor.
"I have set out an agenda for the city on my website, and I wish the people would look at it and see that I'm serious. I just hope that the City Commission gets on board."
Dorough, who ran unsuccessfully for the mayor's seat 16 years ago, losing to past Mayor Willie Adams, who became the city's first African-American top executive, said the timing was right for his election.
"I'm 58 years old," he said. "If I was going to do this, now was the time."
The new mayor-elect went through a number of issues he said he expects to tackle during his tenure.
"We have problems in this city, and I promise all of the citizens that we will address them," he said. "You look at the county voting to get involved in downtown development without a seat at the table; that's what the city faces with the Hospital Authority. We need to trade these things off, each of us have input on major issues like these.
"The city supervises two-thirds of the county's population and has no input on major issues like health care. Well, I promise these issues will be addressed. The Hospital Authority should have citizens who care about the community, not just those individuals sanctioned by the hospital. Look at someone like Price Corr, who was nominated to serve but didn't get the blessing of the hospital. Health care is a serious issue in our community, and we need people who are going to address those problems (on the authority)."
Dorough said he intends to represent the people of south and east Albany, who he said have too long been ignored by the city government.
"I was driving (in an area in east Albany), and it was filthy," the mayor-elect said. "It's like no one cares about the people in the poorer sections. The city should be ashamed. The people in east Albany feel that they have not gotten the attention of other parts of the city, and they are right to feel that way. But that's going to halt."
Dorough also said he favors the city and county's voters determining whether the two governments should be consolidated.
"What's the problem with letting the people decide how they want to be governed?" he said.
He also talked about MEAG and utilities in the city, a topic he addressed at length during his campaign.
"I believe we may be paying for electricity we're not receiving," Dorough said. "I think it's time we looked at -- and by 'we,' I mean all of the members of the collective -- whether MEAG has served its purpose. We need to look deeply at those onerous agreements we've gotten into with MEAG and see if the time hasn't come to go our own way.
"We could be creating our own energy, be a vanguard rather than a consumer."
Dorough said he felt good when returns from the first reporting precinct -- Mt. Zion Church -- showed that he had garnered a great deal of support in a predominantly African-American precinct. He overtook Hubbard's early lead late in the evening as precinct reports trickled in, then held on to edge Hubbard and claim the seat.
Young, whose mother, Mary Young-Cummings, was one of the first African-Americans elected to the Albany commission, was in a close race all evening and held on to claim the 53-vote victory.
As supporters at the downtown Government Center called Young to tell him that his victory was official, he repeatedly answered, "Oh, wow!"
That perhaps sums up the evening as well as it could have been.