ALBANY — Chris Cohilas. a law partner in the Albany-based Watson Spence firm and former chief assistant district attorney for Dougherty County, announced Monday that he will run for the chairman’s seat on the Dougherty County Commission.
Current Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard announced on Jan. 27 that he will not seek re-election at the end of his term, which expires Dec. 31. Current District 5 County Commissioner Gloria Gaines has previously expressed interest in running for the seat.
“Dougherty County is at a critical juncture in its history,” Cohilas said. “Our community needs for its stakeholders and leaders to step forward to make sure we do not lose business opportunities to competing communities. Dougherty County needs someone who understands the delicate balance between government and business. I’m a local business owner; I pay taxes here. I have a vested interest in wanting this community to continue to move forward.
“I’ve served the public in the district attorney’s office and I firmly believe it is the duty of the government to serve its people, not the other way around.”
Cohilas currently serves as vice chairman and trustee for the Darton College Foundation and is an active member of the Albany Rotary Club and the Artesian City Sertoma Club. He is former president and chairman of the Setoma Club, past co-chairman of the King Day Celebration Committee and a founding member of the Lily Pad SANE (sexual assault) Center. That organization has always been a large part of cohilas’ professional and personal lives. While in the district attorney’s office, he was responsible for building a conviction rate of near 100 percent against child rapists and molesters.
In 2007, Cohilas was named one of Southwest Georgia’s “40 Under 40,” and in 2006 he was recognized by the State Bar of Georgia as recipient of the organization’s Young Lawyers Ethics and Professionalism award. He and his wife, Karen, are 2008 graduates of Leadership Georgia. A University of Georgia and Georgia State University College of Law graduate, Chris Cohilas was awarded the Martin Luther King Day “Dream Award” in 2013 for his service to the community.
The Cohilases have three children: Christopher Jr., 6, Nicholas, 3, and Michael, 1.
Cohilas said he’s gotten “overwhelming support” from his partners in the Watson Spence firm.
“This is a huge sacrifice for me and for our business,” he said. “But I took the opportunity to look each of my partners in the eye and tell them I was compelled to do this. They believe in me, and they support me. You can imagine how much that means to me.”
Cohilas said bringing new business to Dougherty County will be one of his primary concerns.
“In order for Dougherty County to reach its potential and thrive, we must focus on creating an environment that welcomes new residents and new businesses to our community while providing the opportunities for our citizens and local businesses to prosper,” he said. “As chairman of the Dougherty County Commission, I will make it my priority to encourage and develop business growth in Dougherty County.”