Beverly handily defeats Jones for House 139 seat

mlee@macon.comJuly 20, 2011 

James Beverly will represent Macon in the state House after a near 2-to-1 margin of victory over fellow Democrat Anissa Jones in a special election.

With 88 percent of the vote counted, Beverly had 2,893 votes to 1,521 for Jones.

Beverly, a 42-year-old optometrist, campaigned on economic development, specifically making Macon a health care hub.

Beverly attracted a legal challenge to his residency when Jones contended that several public documents list him in another district. Beverly said he actually lives in a leased home in the 139th District, and he noted that his medical practice, too, is in the district.

It was the first try at elected office for both candidates.

Beverly takes the place of David Lucas, the 37-year state House veteran who left his seat to run for the state Senate post vacated by Minority Leader Robert Brown.

Beverly’s work should start Aug. 15, when the Georgia General Assembly is expected to meet to begin redrawing voting districts based on new U.S. census numbers. Draft maps have yet to be released, but the count shows the city of Macon losing population since 2000. And Georgia’s population is drifting north. That means finding state legislative seats below metro Atlanta might become like a game of musical chairs, where it takes some speed and savvy to grab a safe seat.

The 2012 elections will use the new boundaries if they’re ready. But after the last census, it took four years -- and several revisions -- before federal approval.

Besides reapportionment, the summer to-do list may come to include taxes and ethics, if Gov. Nathan Deal instructs the Legislature to take up normal business. Usually, the state Legislature only meets during the first three months of the year. Several legislative leaders have mentioned work they would like to do in August, as if already counting on a busy summer session.

Whether in August 2011 or January 2012, Macon-Bibb government consolidation will reappear for debate. Beverly has said he believes there is some financial benefit to consolidation. However, in the GOP-dominated House delegation from Bibb, he’s in a weak position to try to tweak the consolidation plan already passed by that chamber.

Any consolidation plan would have to be approved by Bibb voters countywide.

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