Candidates in 2019 Albany mayor's race looking for rematch in 2023

Jan. 3—ALBANY — The race for Albany mayor won't heat up in earnest until temperatures do the same, but as of the beginning of 2023, one candidate has announced his intention to run and the incumbent is looking to extend his tenure for another four years.

The challenger in this scenario is former Albany City Commissioner Henry Mathis, who barely lost out on gaining a spot in a runoff election in 2019 that pitted Mayor Bo Dorough against then-incumbent Dorothy Hubbard.

Three other Albany Commission wards — I, IV and VI — also will be on the Nov. 7 ballot this year.

Mathis announced his candidacy on Jan. 1, and Dorough confirmed on Tuesday that he will be a candidate in the fall. The qualifying period for the four Albany contests, as well as for municipal elections throughout the state, is set for the week Aug. 21-25.

"I'm definitely going to run again," Dorough said. "I've got three years of service. Any time you've got an incumbent, the public holds you accountable."

The mayor said he thinks he has a solid record of success in his first term, which includes helping guide the city through the COVID-19 pandemic and working to meet a federal mandate regarding the city's combined sewer overflows (CSO) issues.

The city must complete 75% separation of stormwater and sewage by June 2025 or risk significant daily fines.

The price tag for the first phase of the project, which would achieve the required separation of stormwater/sewage, was initially $105 million but has gone up significantly with the increased cost of materials and construction.

"We have been working day and night to secure funding from every possible source, and we've done a good job," the mayor said.

The city also learned last week that it could receive as much as $109 million in federal funding over the course of several years for the project.

If that money materializes, it would mean more funds available for revitalizing downtown Albany, as well as improving recreational facilities and funding for local attractions including the Albany Civil Rights Institute, Flint RiverQuarium and Chehaw Park & Zoo, Dorough said.

"We should be able to reallocate some of that $25 million in SPLOST (sales tax) money from CSO to downtown and nonprofits," he said.

Current incumbents on the commission are Jon Howard, the longest-serving member in city history, in Ward I, and Ward IV Commissioner Chad Warbington and Ward VI Commissioner Demetrius Young, both of whom were first elected in 2019.

To qualify to run for municipal office, a candidate must be at least 21 years of age and have been a city resident for two years before taking office. Commission candidates must also have lived within the ward being sought for at least three months before taking office.

In Lee County, there will be elections in both Leesburg and Smithville. Elections Supervisor Veronica Johnson was out of her office on Tuesday and could not give details on which districts are up for election.

Under current state law, all municipal elections will have the same three weeks of early voting, including two Saturdays, as do other statewide and local general elections.