Dougherty County School Board at-large Democratic candidate Lane Price greets supporters at her campaign election night party at Cafe 230 Tuesday.
ALBANY, Ga. -- After a hard, nine-month campaign for the Dougherty County School Board's at-large seat, Lane Price was rewarded Tuesday night with a nearly 20,000-vote victory over write-in challenger Lorenzo Heard.
Price, the medical director at Willson Hospice House, garnered 27,052 votes to Heard's 7,886. Price was chosen by 77.4 percent of 38,017 votes cast in the contest; Heard came in with 22.6 percent.
"After all the numbers were in, I felt great last night, Price said. "But this morning, I realized all of the hard work that is ahead of us and it began to sink in."
The School Board will take on a different look in January when Price and Robert Youngblood assume their seats on the board. Youngblood, who ran unopposed in District 1, will succeed David Maschke, who did not seek re-election. Current Board members James Bush, the chairman, and Velvet Riggins were also unopposed in this year's elections.
Board members Darrel Ealum, Carol Tharin and Milton "June Bug" Griffin will stand for re-election in 2014.
Price's landslide victory continued a trend set in the July Democratic primary when she handily defeated incumbent Anita Williams-Brown by more than 2,100 votes. Her 4-to-1 victory over Heard sent a message, she said.
"I was very surprised by the margin I won by. I was concerned it would be a lot closer than that," Price said. "Our campaign concentrated on bringing the community together. I think the election showed that people wanted to act together as a community and make some positive changes in our school system."
Heard, the pastor at Greater 2nd Mt. Olive Baptist Church, jumped into the race days after Williams-Brown's defeat. His bid to get on the ballot as an independent was denied by the county elections board and he decided to run as a write-in.
"As a write-in, I knew we'd be at a great disadvantage," Heard said. "Many of our supporters were senior citizens and had difficulty using computers and had no idea how to write in a candidate."
Heard has no regrets about running.
"I am truly grateful for the support," Heard said. "I'm not grumbling, I'm not whining. Lane Price ran a good campaign and I hope she serves the children of Dougherty County well."
The victory represented the end of an emotional road to the School Board for Price.
"After winning the primary, I thought it was over," Price said. "Then Rev. Heard got in and I new we'd have to be campaigning all the way up to Nov. 6. His getting into the race was unique, but legal.
"I now hope the Heard voters will come together with us and help make significant changes to our broken school system. I want feedback from the entire community."