Last Thursday evening I attended a meeting of the Dougherty County Taxpayer’s Association. My friend, Dinorah Hall met me in the front of Merry Acres Conference Center in Albany.
“You had better get a seat while you can,” she told me. I looked in the room and there were more empty tables than there were people. I spoke to a few people and found a seat. As it grew closer to starting time, people kept coming in, and they kept coming in, and they kept coming in. By the time that the steering committee chairman, Richard Thomas, stepped up to the podium to start the meeting, every table was filled and there was standing room only.
There had to be more than 200 in attendance. Like the Freedom Line events in front of Sanford Bishop’s Offices in Thomasville that grew from a handful to several hundred, this group has also grown. It is a sign that every day citizens are telling the professional politicians that “We the People” set the course and direction for our lives and that the government is accountable to the people – not the other way around. This group is non partisan. (Note to my fellow GOP leaders – we had better pay attention to groups like the Tea Parties, Freedom Lines, and Taxpayer Associations. They formed because there has been a void in conservative leadership and they resent being presumed upon by any political party.)
Richard Thomas took a few minutes to remind the large group that there was a steering committee responsible for the growth and impact of this group. He thanked Hilliard Burt, Tim Coley, Kevin Hogencamp, Ethel Woodall, Dinorah Hall, B.J. Fletcher, Todd Hockman, Doug Miller, Clinton Miles, Jeremy Lynch, and Donnie and Lonnie Smith for investing hours of their time to make a difference.
If you have followed any of the news in Albany, you know that there have been serious questions about the management of funds for downtown development. Richard Thomas and other speakers repeatedly made the point that they were not opposed to downtown development. They are opposed to handing taxpayers’ funds to people who had not proven to be good stewards of the funds. Let me offer a personal observation. Agencies or individuals who mismanage often try to shift the focus away from their own accountability by accusing those who question them of being against a good cause. The truth is that the agency or individual who mismanages is the real culprit and the one really against the good cause.
The Dougherty County Taxpayers Association is not just holding a big gripe session. They are taking definitive action.
First, they are calling on the members of the City Commission to rescind the six million dollar bond issue. This is common sense. Get someone to show faithfulness in the small things before borrowing six million dollars and handing it to them. At this point, the track record of downtown development is on the side of the Dougherty County Taxpayers Association.
Second, they are actively recruiting candidates to run for city commission. At the sign-in table, there were maps of the city with the wards open for election this year highlighted on the maps. They had suggestion cards for names of people who would be good candidates for office. They are giving away brooms to sweep the city clean. If you are an incumbent city commissioner up for election this year, you would be wise to listen to them. They don’t want to fight with you, they just want you to look at the facts and represent them – not the status quo or government employees. These are solid citizens who care about their community. I would not want them recruiting someone to run against me.
Third, they drafted a contract with the citizens of Albany and Dougherty County for elected officials and candidates to sign. This is a great model for any group or party.
I think that they are right on target. Incumbent city commissioners should take the time to meet with some of their leaders and listen to their concerns. Check out their Website. www.notemoretax.net. They are worthy of your support. We moved from Albany a few years ago and now live in Cordele but I am making a financial investment in this group today. I encourage you to consider doing the same.
written by Don Cole.
Don Cole is 2nd Congressional Disrict chairman of the Georgia Republican Party’s