Economic development on the ballot for Albany City Commission Ward 4

Election night is November 7th
Election night is November 7th.
Published: Oct. 25, 2023 at 3:25 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - If you’re driving down Dawson Road, you’ll probably notice more businesses popping up, including the restaurant, La Luna, which opened its doors just a few months ago.

“I feel like Albany has always been somewhere that has been good for small businesses,” says Bo Henry, owner of La Luna. “I feel like people support small businesses here. It’s a great place to invest if you are a small business and entrepreneur because I think you get a lot of local support.”

Bo Henry is the co-owner of the Stewbos Group. He got into the restaurant business in downtown Albany in 2001. He then moved his restaurants to the Dawson Road area, all within a mile and a half radius of each other, between 2007 and 2008. He has been there ever since.

“It’s a good area to be in,” Henry said. “Dawson Road is a great road to be on. Lots of traffic, and we enjoy being here.”

Despite the economic progress since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, vacant and dilapidated buildings still stand around the city. Ward 4 Commissioner Chad Warbington is running for reelection. He says it’s an issue that the entire city needs to be more aggressive on.

“As a city, we’ve got the stay on top of blight,” said Warbington. “We’ve got to be tough on blight, from our code enforcement to municipal court. You know it’s a right of all of us to own property, but it’s also a responsibility.”

One of the other candidates running against Warbington for the commission seat is Larry Harris. He believes the city can also take a more hands-on approach when it comes to addressing vacant buildings.

“The city can, I think, take these here old buildings and see if they are owned by the city, or owned by a private owner,” said Harris. “They can get these buildings and reuse these buildings to have other businesses put in there.”

For small business owners, like Bo Henry, voting in these local elections makes all the difference.

”Local elections are so important. And your local government and business and stuff, it affects where you live,” said Henry. “We need people in the city government that are business-minded, and business-thinking people just to promote the growth of our town and economic development.”

It’s important to note, WALB also contacted Ward 4 Commissioner Candidate Marion Gaines-Jones for an interview, but we were unable to reach her. Election night is Tuesday, November 7th.