ALBANY — While he has no primary opposition, that hasn’t stopped Republican incumbent District 4 Dougherty County Commissioner Ewell Lyle from hitting the campaign trail.
Lyle was elected to his first term in office with no opposition, so he’s started getting ready for the Nov. 4 general election showdown with either Tracy Taylor or Pat Garner, who square off in the May 20 Democratic primary, by keeping a high profile during primary campaigning.
Lyle was the only Republican to attend a May 1 forum at Albany State University that was sponsored by the Dougherty County Democratic Committee, and he co-sponsored a district meet-and-greet with Democratic School Board candidate Aaron Johnson.
“It’s different this time; I will have to defeat an opponent to keep my seat,” Lyle, a retired Department of Natural Resources COO, said. “But I’m actually enjoying the experience, enjoying meeting and talking with the voters in the district.”
Lyle said he’s satisfied with the contributions he’s made during his first term in office.
“I feel like I’ve made positive contributions during the last four years,” the incumbent commissioner said. “There have been challenges and frustrations, but I work with six dedicated people who are willing to discuss the issues.
“Most of our votes are unanimous, and people may look at that and say that’s a bad thing, that we all think alike. But we discuss and work on the issues before they’re presented in our business meetings, and we generally have things worked out by the time they come up for a vote.”
Lyle points to his work on the county’s Finance Committee, which presents the county’s budget to the full commission, and its Public Safety and Public Health committees, as well as his appointment to Redistricting and College and Career Academy task forces, among his accomplishments over the past four years.
“I was pleased to be appointed to the Finance Committee in my first year,” Lyle said. “I had a lot of experience with big budgets working for DNR, and I think I helped with the process. (Commission Chair) Jeff Sinyard told me the redistricting plan we put in place was the first to be accepted by state and federal officials without any issues.
“I’m very interested in this process, and I think that makes a difference. I attend a lot of stuff that I’m not required to be at so I can learn more about what’s going on in the community.”
Lyle said he has completed all basic training required by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government and the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, and he’s even gone on to complete advanced training. “Not many people have done that (during their first term),” he said.
Lyle and Garner have sparred over city/county consolidation, Lyle saying it’s a way to save taxpayers money and his Democratic opponent saying it’s “Republican-speak for cutting jobs.” The incumbent said he’s neither seen nor heard anything to convince him his stance is wrong.
“We still have two commissions, two police departments, two Human Resources departments, two Finance departments,” Lyle said. “(Consolidation) is the most efficient way for city and county governments to eliminate duplication of services. The people who are paying the high taxes in the county deserve the right to vote on how they are governed.”