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Dougherty Commission incumbents ponder re-election

Seats held by Ewell Lyle, John Hayes, Jack Stone are up for re-election

District 2 Dougherty County Commissioner John Hayes said he will make no formal announcement but does expect to seek another term in office. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

District 2 Dougherty County Commissioner John Hayes said he will make no formal announcement but does expect to seek another term in office. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

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District 6 County Commissioner Jack Stone is the county’s longest-serving commissioner and he said he’s leaning toward seeking another term in office. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

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Ewell Lyle, who is in the final year of his first term in office, announced Monday that he will seek a second term as the county’s District 4 representative. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

ALBANY — While most of the attention surrounding the upcoming 2014 election cycle has focused on newcomers who are entering politics for a first go, three incumbents on the Dougherty County Commission whose seats are up for re-election are at varying stages of readiness to announce their plans for the May 20 primaries.

Ewell Lyle, who is in the final year of his first term as representative of the county’s District 4, announced Monday that he will seek a second term on the board. District 2 representative John Hayes said he doesn’t expect much fanfare as he prepares for a third run at his seat, and long-time District 6 incumbent Jack Stone said he’ll make a decision closer to the March 3 opening of primary qualifying.

“This past weekend, my family was down for a visit and one of the questions everyone was asking was if I’d run again,” Lyle, a retired Department of Natural Resources official, said. “I told them I was thinking about it, and their concensus was ‘If you like it, do it again.’

“Overall, I’ve really enjoyed being on the commission. There are some frustrations, but as I look toward a second term I’m looking forward to serving for another four years.”

Lyle said he would likely take a more active role during a second term.

“Frankly, there is a huge learning curve on the commission,” he said. “You spend most of the first three years of your term learning the processes and doing formal training. It takes a whole lot more time than I expected, and it can quickly become a full-time job. I’m looking forward to serving without facing such a learning curve.”

Hayes, an official with Capitol City Bank in Albany, said he doesn’t foresee anything that would keep him from seeking a third term in office.

“I have no plans to make any kind of formal announcement, but I do intend at this time to retain my seat on the commission,” he said after Monday’s commission meeting. “If nothing changes between now and then, I expect to qualify once that period opens.”

Stone, who has dealt with health issues in recent months, said he’s gotten the go-ahead from his doctor to seek another term in office, but he’s not ready to fully commit at this time. He first took office in 1987.

“I’m going to wait a bit,” the District 6 rep said. “I’m going to see how I feel — I’ve been feeling a lot better lately — and I’m going to see if there’s anyone else interested in running. If someone good steps forward, I might not run. I’m leaning right now toward running again, but I’ll wait a little longer to decide.”

Angered at comments by retired 4-H director Anthony Jones, who announced last week that he will challenge for the District 6 seat, Stone said Saturday he was “90 percent sure he’d run.”

Former Chief Dougherty District Attorney Chris Cohilas, who is now in private practice, officially announced his candidacy for the commission chair Tuesday, a day after current District 5 Commissioner Gloria Gaines formally announced her candidacy. The two declared for the position after long-time Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard announced he would not seek re-election.

Lyle pointed to a number of personal and board accomplishments during his first term in office as grounds for a second.

“One of my goals when I took office was to serve on the Finance Committee, and I’ve achieved that,” he said. “I really appreciate Jeff giving me that opportunity. I think I’ve also improved on working with my fellow commissioners. As chief of operations with DNR, you don’t find yourself collaborating a lot. I’ve worked to become more of a team player.

“As I look toward this term, I think consolidation is an issue that we need to address again. A lot of the major issues we have in the city and county would be solved if we had a consolidated government. I think the problem some officials have is that they’re territorial. They’re most concerned about their district. But I think what we must do is what’s best for all of Dougherty County. There’s no limit to what we can accomplish if no one cares who gets the credit.”