Mayoral candidate to take leave without pay to pursue office

Tracy Taylor, a candidate for Albany mayor who also serves as chairman of the Dougherty County Republican Party, discussed his decision to take a leave of absence from his firefighter job at his campaign headquarters on Tuesday.

ALBANY — An Albany mayoral candidate is giving up his day job, or at least one of them, as his work with the city requires him to take a break from employment.

Tracy Taylor, a part-time Albany Fire Department firefighter, said city regulations require him to take a leave of absence while running for a city office.

“My chief called me Monday morning,” said Taylor, who is employed full-time as a Waycross firefighter, during an interview at his Dawson Road campaign headquarters on Tuesday. “I was told I have to fill out a request for leave of absence with no pay.”

He said he suspected that would be the case but was not sure, as his human resources handbook said the city encourages employees to be active in the political process. However, in another section it states that employees cannot actively be employed while running for office and he said he will fill out paperwork seeking to leave his position until after the completion of the campaign.

“I was somewhat unsure of it, and thought since I was part time and didn’t receive benefits from the city it would preclude that,” Taylor, who is one of seven candidates seeking the mayor’s position on the Nov. 5 ballot, said.

The other candidates are Edward Allen, Bo Dorough, incumbent Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, Henry Mathis, James Pratt Jr. and Omar Salaam.

The move will take a hit on his finances, but he said he is prepared to take that step.

“I am willing to sacrifice my personal (interests) to serve the people of Albany,” he said. “Because of everything that’s going on in the city, I think it’s worth the sacrifice. I’m willing to sacrifice to serve the community.”

Taylor said part of his platform includes increased investment in first responders, including outfitting firefighters and emergency medical service personnel with protective vests, and pay raises.

“Lee County first responders have bullet-proof vests, so that’s something I want to duplicate in Dougherty County,” he said. “I’m out here first hand. There’s a lot of time firefighters arrive before police and EMS. That’s what we’ve got to prepare for, incidents like those where our first responders are being ambushed.

“I want to see state and federal revenues to help our first responders and police.”

He also would like to institute a program, similar to the one used in the fire department, where part-time officers can assist the Albany Police Department.

With seven candidates in the race, there is a good possibility of a runoff election that would occur weeks after the Nov. 5 ballots are cast. Georgia law requires a candidate win 50 percent plus one vote in order to be declared the winner.

Taylor said he is prepared to take a leave of absence until that time if necessary.

“I’m willing to show I am fully committed to bring about change in Dougherty County,” he said.

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