• Sat. May 21st, 2022

Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas will seek a third term

Feb. 5 – ALBANY – There’s a saying that rings too true for politicians and politics: don’t tell me what you’re gonna do, tell me what you’ve done for me lately.

As he announced his intention to run for a third term as chairman of the Dougherty County Commission, Chris Cohilas was only too happy to do a little of both. He has a plan, a vision, for the future of the county, he said in candid conversation. But he’ll go along with anyone on the matter of recent accomplishments and his eight years of service on behalf of Southwest Georgia’s largest community.

“I had no idea what it would be like to be tested under the circumstances we faced as a community in my eight years in power; we’ve been through so much,” said Cohilas, a attorney for Watson Spence, based in Albany. shut up, say. “But it became clear as we worked to overcome the difficulties of four disasters declared by the President – tornadoes, storms, straight-line winds, a hurricane, a recession, a pandemic – that we were all, more poor to more comfortable, beaten on these emergencies.

“For some reason, though, we never had anyone asking for the things we needed, the things other communities were getting. We were just told, ‘You’re not following the formula. I knew that wasn’t true, so I thought it was important that we tell our story, that we bring leaders here to witness what we are going through. state government or flying to Washington to talk to federal leaders, does that position us for a seat at the table.”

That siege, that foot in the door, Cohilas said, ultimately led to millions of dollars in state and federal stimulus funds flowing into the community, providing an opportunity to rebuild and, in some cases, provide unprecedented relief. to some of the poorest citizens in the state. .

“It took a long time to get people to come and see what was happening in our community; it took going out and advocating on behalf of these people who had no food, no electricity, no access,” said the chairman of the committee. “Now, however, those funds are here, and we have an opportunity to make this community special again.

“And I’ll be honest with you: one of the reasons I’m running for another four years in office is that now that we have a chance to catch our breath without disaster lurking, I want to see Albany and Dougherty County become all they can be with the money we fought so hard for.”

Cohilas, who was once chief assistant district attorney for the Dougherty Judicial Circuit, has never been one to promote himself. But his CV is impressive. Among the highlights:

—Young Lawyer Ethics and Professionalism Award, State Bar of Georgia;

—Founding member of the Lily Pad SANE Center, an Albany-based child advocacy and anti-rape center that provides services to women and children who are victims of physical and sexual abuse;

– Named Southwest Georgia 40 under 40;

—Chairman of the Martin Luther King Day Celebration Committee;

—Recipient of the Martin Luther King Day “Dream Award” for community service;

—Former President and President of the Artesian City Sertoma Club;

—Georgia Leadership Graduate;

– Appointed by Governor Nathan Deal to serve as a member of the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, which ensures poor/indigent defendants have adequate and competent legal representation;

—Elected president of the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council;

—Received the Georgia State Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham Award in recognition of support for the Albany-Dougherty community during natural disasters;

—Leaded the team that brokered the deal to bring Georgia Pacific’s plant to Dougherty County, which received Governor Deal’s “Deal of the Year Award”;

—Helped bring a solar farm, a biomass power plant to Dougherty County.

“I like to think it’s an honor and it’s certainly humbling to be recognized, but what matters most to me is being stopped at the grocery store – and I mean in no any grocery store in any part of town – and being thanked by one of our fellow citizens,” Cohilas said. “That’s what really makes me feel connected.”

The commission chairman said his blue-collar upbringing, led by a Greek grandfather who fled Nazi occupation with his family and a firefighter/carpenter father who taught him early on the importance of building whole self, mind and body, greatly influenced the man he became. .

“One of the things I took away from my upbringing was to embrace the whole community, not try to build by slamming down a building and putting together a clever marketing campaign,” he said. -he declares. “I have the kind of foundation that I think we need in our community, and that’s important in every corner of the community. Fortunately, I’ve worked as a lawyer for clients who are some of the poorest in the community. I would say 99.9% of the victims I have represented are minorities, many of whom are among the poorest of the poor.

“But I feel like I can walk into a room and have a conversation with the janitor or the president of the company.”

Cohilas said he and his fellow elected county commission board members have developed a strong relationship that has allowed them to work toward what’s best for their constituents.

“I think we have done a good job on behalf of the citizens,” he said. “We don’t always agree, but we’ve found the ability to disagree collegially and professionally. I’m proud that around 97% of our votes are unanimous. It’s a sign of consensus among the members of the board of directors.

As he prepares for a re-election campaign, Cohilas said he hasn’t heard any rumblings from potential opponents. But that, he says, is not a concern.

“Certainly every citizen has the right to qualify and run, and if so, so be it,” he said. “Honestly, if someone came along and I thought they could do a better job, I would happily step down. Doing this job properly, however, takes a lot. Not many people know about it, but while we were fighting if hard in 2017 to get help from FEMA and other agencies, I ended up not practicing law for six or seven months.

“I also think it’s a mistake for anyone to run for this position or any position for the wrong reasons. It’s definitely not for the money. And, you know me well enough to know that I’m not afraid of competition. I don’t mind saying, I’m running again for this office to win. And I want to be part of rebuilding Albany and Dougherty County bigger, better. stronger and better than ever.