New (and old) Chatham County officials sworn in, but re-elected incumbent coroner has already resigned

Pete Liakakis has been a fixture of Savannah politics for decades, but his two terms as Chairman of the Chatham County Commission are now over. He narrowly lost the mayoral race in 2003, but rebounded the following year with a big win in the countywide election. His improbable career included a decade working as a personal bodyguard for Burt Reynolds. Liakakis built a huge amount of good will over the years by showing up, by listening, and by having some nice things to say about people as he tried to find consensus on myriad issues.

Liakakis was term-limited out. Former Georgia Labor Commissioner and member of the state legislature Al Scott narrowly won last fall’s election.

Scott is joined by several new commissioners. They’ll have some sticky issues to deal with soon, including the proposal for the county to back a convention hotel on Hutchinson Island. I hope the new commissioners will also acquaint themselves swiftly with the proposed Unified Zoning Ordinance, which has languished for too long. The UZO would update and streamline the current labyrinthine zoning codes for Savannah and unincorporated Chatham County.

Longtime coroner James Metts should have started a new term today, but he resigned recently, just before the Savannah Morning New aired some extensive details about mismanagement — at best — of funds. It’s a mess, and there are legitimate questions to be asked about the auditing processes (or lack thereof).

Meg Daly Heap was sworn in as Chatham County District Attorney today as well. From the Savannah Morning News:

Former District Attorney Spencer Lawton Jr., acting as master of ceremonies, said Heap’s election fulfills her campaign pledge of   “a need to establish a new level of integrity” to the office.

“She did it in a reasonable, adult and discreet way,” Lawton said, adding that people can “sit back and wait for her to lead us to the promised land of milk and honey.”

I don’t even know what that means exactly, but if 2013 is the year of milk and honey, that’s ok.


  1. I remember Pete Liakakis as the guy who bought Pinkie Masters’ Rainbow Room — the finest drinking establishment there ever was — in 1977 or ’78 and kept it exactly as it was. I don’t think I was ever thrown out of there, but I did witness one bar patron throwing another one out through the plate glass window to the left of the front door. That was quite an evening.

  2. fishtail says:

    As a former State Senator and Chair of the Georgia Ports Authority and State Labor Commissioner, Al Scott will bring some badly needed leadership to Savannah/Chatham County at a crucial time for the Coastal Empire. Big issues like the Savannah Port deepening project will have economic impacts for the entire State. Al Scott still enjoys some strong relationships in the State Capitol and hopefully he will be willing to cash some of his chips for his home town. Good luck to him.

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