‘Who’s going to run the county?’: Dougherty Co. administrator out in tie-breaking vote

The firing could spark legal concerns for county leaders.
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 2:09 PM EDT|Updated: May. 22, 2023 at 7:10 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - The county administrator for Dougherty County was terminated from his duties early Monday.

At a Monday meeting of the Dougherty County Board of Commissioners, County Administrator Michael McCoy was fired in a tie-breaking vote.

Commission Chairman Lorenzo Heard offered a motion to relieve McCoy of his duties as county administrator and rescind a recent hiring decision under McCoy.

In the meeting recording, Heard said, “I want to offer a motion that County Administrator Mr. Michael McCoy be relieved of his duties. Understanding, by law, he is to be paid out the full of his contract, which is Dec. 31.”

Here is how the vote for termination played out:

Ed Newsome, District 1 - No

Victor Edwards, District 2 - Yes

Clinton Johnson, District 3 - Yes

Russell Gray, District 4 - No

Gloria Gaines, District 5 - Yes

Anthony Jones, District 6 - No

Heard cast the deciding vote in favor of termination.

Before the vote, there was discussion among commissioners about a hire McCoy made and whether or not he had the authority to hire.

“I think your ego gets damaged because you aren’t informed of a process,” Gray said to Heard after making the motion for termination.

Said Heard: “It had nothing to do with ego, it has to do with respecting the chair.”

Gray said under a statute, McCoy did not have to inform the board of commissioners of hiring decisions.

“This is putting the county at a serious liability, not only legally,” Gray said. “(It’s) putting the county in a very, very fragile state during budget season.”

Alex Shalishali, county attorney, said the Monday meeting was a working session and would not typically be considered a voting meeting and a motion would have to be made to add the vote to the agenda.

“Who’s going to run the county?” Anthony Jones, District 6 commissioner, said. “They also rescinded the assistant position, that position that was just hired.”

Ed Newsome, District 1 commissioner, said the decision to fire McCoy was a “big mistake.”

”I think you’re going to set this county back a long way,” Newsome said.

Gray continued by telling WALB, ”Chairman Heard said at the end of the meeting today that Dougherty County has lost a lot of citizens and it’s predicted to lose even more. And that’s a lack of progressive leadership. But yet, he decides to fire the administrator.”

Heard issued this statement to WALB after the termination:

“On May 22, 2023, the Board of Commissioners of Dougherty County elected by majority vote to relieve Michael McCoy of his duties as County Administrator.  We want to thank Mr. McCoy for his 26 years of service to Dougherty County and wish him all the best in his future endeavors. As we move forward in a different direction, our commitment to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Dougherty County while providing the services our citizens expect and deserve remains. Again, we thank Mr. McCoy for his time with us and wish him well.”

This is a developing story and we are working to learn more.