Paul Croft of Purbeck DC beat William Sanders of East Staffordshire BC to the new junior vice president post at the society's annual meeting in Harrogate. Senior vice president Mike Pitt, chief executive at Kent CC, will become next year's president.
Mr Hehir made his presidential address to 200 members. Highlighting the importance of front-line staff and expanding SOLACE membership to include senior managers are among his top priorities.
'If we ever need an example of life at the tough end of local government it's front-line staff,' he said. 'They do an excellent job in often difficult circumstances and they are the people that the public identify local government with.'
He added: 'We want to expand the membership for more senior managers to take part in SOLACE. These are the chief executives of the future - they are the lifeblood and we need to let them grow.'
Mr Hehir, who took over from Liverpool City Council chief executive David Henshaw, said the former president 'would be a tough act to follow'.
He viewed the government's commitment to deliver better public services, develop better partnerships across the public and private sectors and expand e-government as a positive move.
'It's a great opportunity to prove to this government that we do deliver excellent services in local government. We do it better than anywhere else in the world and we should be proud of ourselves and what we do,' he said.