New middle Georgia House district up for grabs due to influential incumbent’s departure

The map for House District 143. (Credit: Reapportionment office)

The Gist

For the first time in over a decade, voters in parts of middle Georgia’s Bibb and Houston counties will vote for a new state House representative.

House District 143 is a newly redrawn district that now extends from Macon to Warner Robins. That redistricting prompted the departure of longtime incumbent Rep. James Beverly, D-Macon. His term ends in January.

 Democrat Anissa Jones and Republican Barbara Boyer are vying for Beverly’s seat. Both are uncontested in the primary.

The two appear on the May 21 primary ballots, but the primary is, in effect, a dress rehearsal for the Nov. 5 general election because neither has a primary opponent.

Jones is a chiropractor who has held numerous seats on civic and local government boards. Boyer is a retired attorney who now runs an antique shop. Georgia is an open primary state, meaning voters can choose the party ballot they wish to vote for.

What’s Happening

House Minority Leader  Beverly announced in March he would not seek re-election, in part, because  his district had been redrawn.  A federal judge ordered state lawmakers to redo their electoral maps because they diluted Black voting power. 

Before the remapping, House District 143 was largely Democrat, majority Black and   consisted primarily of Macon County. The redrawn district now includes parts of Macon and extends 20 miles south to Warner Robins and remains majority Black. 

Boyer, a political newcomer, said Republicans asked her to run because of her legal background. She sees the redistricting as good for middle Georgia. 

“Macon and Warner Robins have always sort of been merged together in a lot of ways, and I just don’t see there’s a problem with it.”

The new House district, for example, now includes parts of nearby Houston County, which has “a pretty good school system,” Boyer said.

“I’m interested in how they run their school system compared to how Bibb County runs theirs,” she added. “Our [Macon-Bibb] district really needs a lot of help with their school system.”

If elected, Boyer said she would work to improve education, curb crime and bring more businesses to middle Georgia.

“I think I cross party lines pretty good,” she said. “I have a lot of Democratic friends and a very diverse group of friends. So I think I have a better chance of getting some Democrat and independent votes.”

Jones is a Macon native. She is the former vice chair of the Macon Water Authority Board, an alum of Leadership Macon and a past president of the Main Street Macon Board.

Jones did not return calls from State Affairs for comment.. Her top issues include public safety, economic development and more investment in infrastructure, according to her website. 

Why It Matters

The winner of House District 143 will fill a vital seat that Beverly has held since 2011. He often advocated for legislation addressing health inequities, including a last-minute proposal by state Democratic leaders to expand Medicaid. 

The Peach Care Plus Act would have let the state get a federal waiver to buy private health insurance for people who make around $20,000 a year. The measure failed. Beverly, a Macon optometrist, also pushed for legislation that would reduce maternal mortality among Black women.

He also led the Democrats’ effort to pass the Safe at Home Act, a bipartisan bill to protect tenants’ rights. The bipartisan bill requires rental properties to be “fit for human habitation.” Landlords must give three days’ notice and can’t shut off cooling before an eviction. Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill into law in April. 

Beverly said his decision to leave was also based on the likelihood that Democrats will not win a majority in the 180-member House. 

In addition to Beverly’s departure as House minority leader, the Senate also will lose its minority leader, Sen. Gloria Butler, D-Stone Mountain. She has served since 1999. The two are among 16 legislators who are retiring. Most of the 236-member Georgia General Assembly will be running for office, many unopposed. 

What’s Next?

Early voters casting ballots in person have until Friday at 5 p.m. Poll officials, however, have the discretion to keep the polls open until 7 p.m., a Georgia Secretary of State official said. Polls will reopen Tuesday, primary election day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Residents voting in Tuesday’s primary can check their precinct location here.

Boyer and Jones will face each other in the Nov. 5 general election. The winner will succeed Beverly, who will leave office in January.

Meet the House District 143 primary candidates

Barbara Boyer 

Age: 68

Residence: Macon

Occupation: Retired attorney who now owns an antique store in Macon. “I love to stay busy.”

Party affiliation: Republican

Top issues: Improving education, attracting more businesses and addressing public safety, especially encroaching crime.

Campaign cash on hand: $600 as of May 7

Family: She and husband Wesley, a bankruptcy attorney, have a daughter and granddaughter

Dr. Anissa Jones

Residence: Macon 

Occupation: Chiropractor

Party affiliation: Democrat

Top issues: Public safety, economic development, more investment infrastructure.

Campaign cash on hand: $30,679.92 as of May 6

Have questions, comments or tips? Contact Tammy Joyner on X @lvjoyner or at [email protected].

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