Lorenzo Heard stuns Chris Cohilas in Dougherty County Commission race

May 25—ALBANY — The winds of political change blew hard through Dougherty County Tuesday, so hard, in fact, they toppled a twice-elected sitting commission chairman.

Lorenzo Heard, whose only other foray into local politics ended with a stunning Dougherty County School Board defeat, pulled off a stunner himself Tuesday, wresting the County Commission chairman's seat from two-term incumbent Chris Cohilas. Heard's victory was so complete, he notched the win without having to face Cphilas in a runoff, as many had expected.

The chairman-elect tallied 5,449 votes to Cohilas' 3,667, while the third entrant in the race, businessman Harry James, received 1,205 votes. Heard's total was 52.8% of the 10,321 votes cast, while Cohilas' total left him a distant second with 35.53%. James tallied 11.68% of the votes.

Stormy weather through much of Tuesday may have kept some Dougherty voters from going to the 26 county precincts, as only 16.7% of the county's 59,434 registered voters bothered to show up and cast their ballots. The election results were not finalized until a little after 11 p.m., partially because of a late surge of voters who showed up at some precincts just before the 7 p.m. voting cutoff.

Heard built an early lead in precincts where he was expected to fare well, and while Cohilas closed the gap as late totals came in from the Westover High School and Greenbrier Church precincts, he did not outpoll the winner by enough votes to whittle his total to under 50% plus one.

Since there was no Republican candidate who qualified to run for the chairman's seat, Heard will — barring the emergence of a write-in candidate — become chairman of the county board at the start of 2023 without having to run in the November general election. Cohilas will serve the final seven months of his eighth year on the board as a lame-duck chairman.