SUMMERVILLE — Bill Hearn’s re-election was never really in doubt. He’s an incumbent and a veteran Dorchester County Council member in a heavily Republican county. Democrat Miriam Birdsong was forced to run as a petition candidate.

Hearn easily defeated Birdsong for the council District 6 seat, winning about 75 percent of the vote in early, unofficial returns. Returns were delayed until late Tuesday by computer problems at the county elections board.

Birdsong conceded the race with a sigh.

“It was a long six months of work,” she said. “I feel bad for my workers. But I feel like (Hearn) at least heard what we were saying, and hopefully he’ll be more responsive to the public.”

Hearn said the challenges are certainly out there for the council in the next four years.

Dorchester County’s crimped revenues in his view are not going to recover as quickly as home-building in the once booming county.

The county has struggled to keep up services as population surged.

Now “we’ll be forced by necessity to come up with more planning and growth management,” Hearn said. “Builders are building homes again. We have to get out in front of it.”