Written by Walter L. Johnson II
Monday, Jan. 9, 2012 will be a history-in-the-making moment for Albany.
On that date, Dorothy Hubbard will be sworn in as the city’s first-ever female mayor. She replaces Willie Adams, who served as Albany’s first African-American chief executive for the last eight years.
Despite being a pioneer in Albany politics, Hubbard—who is a former city commissioner representing Ward II—doesn’t dwell on that fact very often.
“I know there are times when you want to think about it, but you don’t dare, because you know that you need everybody’s help, and everybody’s support,” Hubbard said. “So, it’s not just a matter of being a female as much as it about working together, and all of us working together, males and females.”
Additionally, Hubbard added, that men and women in general should support each other as often as possible.
“It’s also about knowing that in the past, we as females have supported our male leaders, and what we are asking for is (the) male leaders support.
“I’m suggesting that I want the same respect and support that has been given to the male counterparts coming forward.”
Mary Ligon, who served as one of Hubbard’s campaign manager, believes Hubbard will be a solid public servant as Albany’s mayor.
“Dorothy will serve our community well,” Ligon said. “She is patient, listens to multiple perspectives, analyzes the options, and chooses the best plan of action.”
Within the first 50-100 days of her term in office, Hubbard plans to address the multiple issues she addressed during her campaign, which include, but aren’t limited to, education, demolishing blighted properties, and even homelessness.
“I will go on to set up my community councils, which will actually be formed around my four major areas and platforms, which will be education, crime, jobs and economic development, and blighted properties,” Hubbard said.
Additionally, Hubbard added, getting with expertise in dealing with such issues—especially economic development and unemployment—will be a major priority during her first year in office.
“We will look at the jobs and economic development,” she said, “How that affects Albany, and how they’re all interwoven, interlinked, and how that affects the other.
“Certainly, we’re going to have to assess where we’ve been. We’re going to have to assess where we are, and then get on the same page, and going in the same direction, to determine where we need to go.”
Ligon believes there’s no one specific issue that Albany faces going into 2012 and beyond.
“There are many issues in our community that need focused attention,” Ligon said. “Because not everyone agrees on the priorities or the solutions, it is important for everyone to seek understanding of others’ perspective and not just push their own view.”
“With sincere effort and respect of one another’s views,” Ligon added, “I believe we can work together to address many of the issues in our community.”
While most of Georgia’s population grew within the past decade, many of the state’s cities and counties south of Macon—especially those in southwest Georgia—lost population between 2000 and 2010.
As a result, Hubbard says, co-operation between multiple communities in the region will be critical. She thinks that such collaboration can benefit not only Albany, but also the cities and counties surrounding Dougherty County.
“I think that the people in Albany and Dougherty County want their elected officials to work together,” explained Hubbard. “They want us to understand just locally, within this city and county, how important it is for all of us to work together.
“When you take that, and move it regionally, then you start talking about Leesburg, Colquitt, and Cordele, and Sylvester, that’s going to be crucial.
“It’s going to be really important for all of us not only to work together, but to understand how important regionalism, to understand that if Sylvester can get some jobs, then Albany will benefit, if Albany could get some jobs, Sylvester will benefit.
“What we have to understand is if Albany loses, then southwest Georgia loses. The other counties surrounding Albany lose. If Colquitt loses, or Sylvester loses, or Lee County loses, we all lose.
“Because a lot of those people that are moving (to), or living in Sylvester, or are living in Lee County, actually come back to Albany and Dougherty County to work.
“So, it’s going to be crucial, (and) it’s going to be a challenge, to help us to understand why regionalism is actually important.”
With confidence in local government appearing to be at an all-time low, both Hubbard and Ligon think winning the trust of Albany citizens will be a task that must be worked on tremendously.
“In my opinion, the basic issue is a lack of trust across our community, which makes all other issues difficult to resolve,” Ligon explained.
“If we each take responsibility for our own words and actions so they contribute to developing an environment of trust, then we work through differences and accomplish positive changes more quickly.”
Hubbard says earning the trust of the citizens will take time and effort.
“I’m going to do everything I can to see that we all work together, that we all understand the importance of our moving our city forward.
“There are some challenges, real challenges for us. But I think that if really, really work together, then we’ll understand how one affects the other that we understand that we can do this, if we really, really work at it.
“It’s not going to be easy, but we will have to work at it.”