Former Probate Court Judge Ken Fowler defeated Glen Christopher to become the new Twiggs County Commission chairman Tuesday night.
Fowler, 63, who also previously has served as a magistrate judge and deputy coroner, won with 2,725 votes to 1,304 for Christopher.
Christopher, a 52-year-old Republican, had no previous political experience. He works as an information security manager at Robins Air Force Base.
Fowler said he thought the difference in the race was being lifelong resident of the county.
I pretty much know everyone in Twiggs County, Georgia, he said.
Fowler said he doesnt have any immediate goals or priorities for the county until he assumes the chairmanship in January.
I dont know whats going on right now, he said. Im going to have to see what kind of situation were in. Im going to do the best job I can do for the people of Twiggs County.
Democratic incumbent Tommie Lee Bryant kept his seat as the District 1 commissioner, beating political newcomer Brett Cummings 789-376. Bryant has served on the board of commissioners since the 1980s. Attempts to reach him by phone Tuesday night were unsuccessful.
In District 4, former Twiggs County Commissioner Donald Watson beat Democratic newcomer Steve Birdsong 451-334. Watson has previously served three stints on the commission in the 1980s and 1990s.
When he returns to office in January, Watson intends to try to get the county out of its current financial woes. His first plan of action is to call for a forensic audit of the countys books.
We need to see where the money is and find out where we are, he said. A regular audit no longer tells you anything. ... We have to eliminate the huge debt were in.
Watson said the county has borrowed $1.9 million, which must be paid back, plus interest, by Dec. 31. The county sent out tax bills much earlier this year to try to pay off the debt, but that means theres already a shortfall in next years operating budget, he said.
(The current commissioners) have put us into a hole, and weve got to get out of it quick, Watson said.
In the lone school race in the county, Democratic incumbent Teresa Blackshear defeated former interim board chairwoman Sharon Radebaugh 464-391 for the District 2 seat.
Last month, Blackshear, 47, noted that during her first term on the school board, the county maintained its accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and improved its science and social studies standardized test scores. Blackshear, whom The Telegraph couldnt reach by phone Tuesday night, earlier said she would maintain the focus in improving test scores, recruiting high-quality teachers and building parental involvement.
The school board also will have to hire a new, permanent superintendent after Valya Lee stepped down from that position at the end of this past academic year.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.