ALBANY – With the settling of the dust from three Albany municipal elections, the end result is that nearly half of the city’s government will be composed of new faces next year.
One of those was settled in November, with the victory of Chad Warbington in the Albany City Commission Ward IV race over incumbent Roger Marietta. In Ward VI, voters knew there would be a new city commissioner as incumbent Tommie Postell elected not to seek another term.
But on Tuesday, the third of those new players emerged when Albany attorney Kermit “Bo” Dorough won a runoff election against incumbent Mayor Dorothy Hubbard.
There are four remaining incumbents on the commission, including Ward I Commissioner Jon Howard, whose seat was in play but did not have an opponent in the November election, and three who were not up for election this year.
Dorough, who finished second in the seven-candidate field in the Nov. 5 general election, ran on a platform of change.
He won 4,656 votes, according to Tuesday’s results, or 51.61% out of 9,022 total votes. Hubbard finished with 4,366 votes, or 48.39%.
“The people have spoken and I’m satisfied with the result,” Hubbard said on Wednesday. “That’s our process. I do love our process.”
During the campaign, Hubbard, who was seeking a third four-year term, pointed to progress that has been made in the city on issues including crime and economic development.
Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas said he thinks the county and city governments can continue to work together to address issues that are important to both.
Earlier this year the two combined to help attract the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to locate a gang task force to Albany that will be dedicated to fighting drugs and violent criminal groups throughout southwest Georgia.
“I certainly extend my congratulations to Bo and look forward to working with him in the same professional and collegial relationship I had with Dot (Hubbard),” said Cohilas, who endorsed Hubbard in the runoff election.
Dorough said on Wednesday that he has laid out the issues he thinks are most pressing for the city and his platform for tackling them on his website, bodoroughformayor.com. Those issues include crime, infrastructure, economic development and recreation.
“I want to make sure the stormwater utility fee is used for the stated purpose and for no other purpose,” he said. “We can’t have the (stormwater) catch basins clogged with dirt and leaves for months on end.”
Dorough also has proposed developing solar farms in the city as well as higher pay for police officers to shore up a shortage of patrol officers.
“We’ve got to do something different if we’re going to change the direction of the city,” he said. “I don’t see how anybody can contend Albany isn’t a city in decline.
“There’s a lot to be done. I’ve got the proposals out there, and we’re going to see what we can get done.”
In Ward VI, Demetrius Young won 52.08% of the vote, receiving 662 out of 1,271 votes cast. John Hawthorne received 609 votes in the runoff contest.
Young said that voters in the ward responded for the runoff, with nearly 1,300 showing up at the polls, compared to nearly 1,400 who voted in the November general election. He also praised Hawthorne and Leroy Smith, who was the third candidate on the Nov. 5 ballot.
“I’m very proud of Ward VI and their participation,” Young said. “I want to thank Mr. Hawthorne and Mr. Smith for running a good race. We actually did some bonding through this thing.
“We all had different approaches. Mr. Smith was focused on better city services for the ward. Mr. Hawthorne’s platform was economic development in the ward, and my platform probably focused more on investing in the people in the ward. We all came to feel those things kind of gelled.”
When he takes office in January, Young said his immediate focus will be on looking at utility bills, an issue he said is among the most important for the majority of constituents with whom he has talked.
“Albany Utility belongs to the city and thus to the citizens,” he said. “We need to look at the board positions. I understand some of the positions haven’t been filled.”
Ensuring young people in the ward, which encompasses south Albany, have the opportunity to participate in activities also is an issue he hopes to tackle.
“I’m definitely going to look at the revitalization of the Recreation Department,” he said. “I’m asking for $1 million to be dedicated to the revitalization of the department.
“Some funding allocations in the last few days have people scratching their heads, the city buying buildings. We have an entire department that’s not being fully funded and utilized.”
Also on Tuesday, former Sylvester Mayor Bill Yearta won in a runoff election against former Leesburg Mayor Jim Quinn in the special election for Georgia House District 152.
Yearta received 3,149 votes, or 50.87%, while Quinn finished with 3,302 votes. Yearta will serve the remaining year in the term of Ed Rynders, who resigned earlier this year.