Jan. 9—ALBANY — It was a day of in with the new and in with the old on Monday as the Dougherty County Commission welcomed new Chairman Lorenzo Heard and had three incumbent members sworn in for new four-year terms.
Heard, the first black chairman elected in Dougherty County, was sworn in on Sunday during an inauguration ceremony held at Monroe Comprehensive High School.
On Monday the three commission members freshly sworn in — Victor Edwards, Russell Gray and Anthony Jones — and Commissioners Clinton Johnson and Ed Newsome congratulated the new chairman. Jones also serenaded Heard with a rendition of "Happy Birthday to You," a tradition that is apparently going to continue.
Dougherty County Probate Court Judge Leisa Blount swore in Edwards, Gray and Jones.
"Today was a chance for getting to know everyone and getting a chance to hear what each commissioner is passionate about," Heard said during an interview following the commission work session. "This is a good day, a good start."
The audience on hand to take in the meeting was perhaps the largest to gather for a County Commission meeting since at least the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the issues Heard spoke about during his successful campaign was housing, and the newly installed chairman mentioned it during his remarks to reporters.
"There are a lot of hard-working people (for whom) rent is too high," he said. "We need to do something. We need more housing, more subdivisions."
Housing has traditionally been a function of Albany's city government, but Heard said the two governments may be able to collaborate on improving housing.
"My hope is that the city and county can work together, have conversations about what's occurring and what can be done," he said. "I hope we can have conversations about how we spend all of our dollars to help all of our citizens."