Dougherty Primary will make history - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Dougherty Primary will make history

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July 9, 2004

Albany-- For the first time, there are black candidates in every contested race. What do the Sheriff's Race, District Attorney's Race and Superior Court Judge's Race in Dougherty County have in common?

It's the race themselves. In this year's election, every contested local race on the ballot has a black candidate.

"I say good luck to whomever wins," said Albany Mayor Willie Adams.

Adams didn't need much luck when he recently beat Mayor Tommy Coleman by a landslide and became Albany's first African American mayor. "I see myself being the Mayor for ALL of the people, it just so happens my skin may be a little different color from other peoples skin, but..."

He doesn't want his legacy to be about skin color. Without meaning to, he may have changed the face of politics.

"Especially in politics, it's always going to be different changes," says Dougherty County Sheriff Jamil Saba. The long time sheriff is challenged by Lt. James Williams.

And District Attorney Ken Hodges is competing against Ingrid Driskell Polite, a female African American lawyer.

Judge Stephen Goss is fighting for the gavel with Johnnie Graham, a female African American lawyer/former federal prosecutor. "It don't make a difference if he's yellow, as long as he does the job and that's what you've got to have," said Saba.

A job that shouldn't matter what color you are.

Most candidates feel voters need to look at issues and not skin color. "One happens to be white and one happens to be black. I think we can sometimes read too much into it," said Adams.

And he hopes his voters didn't read into his race before they checked 'yes.'

Regardless, Adams was not the first African American to run, but the first to win as Mayor of Albany.

Right now, in Dougherty County, there are 23,673 active black voters, and 17,937 white voters.

posted at 1:10PM by dave.miller@walb.com