22 things to look for in 2022 in Bibb County

Center for Collaborative Journalism Civic Fellows Liz Fabian and Laura Corley preview what’s expected in the coming year.

1. Hotel 45 to open

One of the most highly-anticipated events of 2022 is the opening of Hotel 45, the Marriott boutique hotel in the Bankers Insurance high-rise where First and Cherry streets meet Cotton Avenue.

Although the pandemic nearly killed the deal as jittery financiers walked away from hospitality investments when travel came to a halt in 2020, Macon-Bibb County issued bonds for the project to proceed. The local tourism industry has been

Hotel 45 will open in the first quarter of 2022 and is expected to ignite an explosion of construction projects in downtown Macon. (Liz Fabian)

salivating for a downtown hotel for years and 45 is saturated with references to the city’s rich musical heritage.

The hotel’s designers capitalized on the “Where Soul Lives” story in the heart of great historical connections to local legends like the Allman Brothers, Little Richard and Otis Redding.

Just across from the main hotel entrance, which will have valet parking on two floors of the Truist deck, the Otis Redding Foundation purchased the Cotton Street lot that once housed Nu-Way and a couple of store fronts. Plans are pending, according to the foundation. Redding’s family had his statue removed from Gateway Park in 2021.

Hotel 45’s decor pays homage to all of Macon’s history in its branding. For example, “loom” the name of the restaurant which is spelled in smooth, lowercase script, is a nod to the cotton trade of centuries past. Images of cherry blossoms on chain curtains in the coffee shop and wine bar link in the signature spring festival when many will get their first taste of the operation.

The restaurant developers made it clear tourists are not their only target when they unveiled the brand in September. They consider good food a key component to their success.

“We are not building the restaurant and the rooftop for the guests that are coming. We’re building it for you,” said Dulani Porter, on the advertising and marketing team.

2. Bibb Schools to hire new superintendent

Bibb County Schools will have a new leader and chief executive officer in 2022 with the June retirement of Superintendent Curtis Jones.

The school board contracted with Georgia School Board Association in October to help find the right person for the job. The deadline to apply is Jan. 16.

Jones was hired in 2015 when the school district was grappling with lower graduation rates and reeling from the criminal saga surrounding disgraced former Superintendent Romain Dallemand.

Jones was named Georgia Superintendent of the Year and National Superintendent of the Year in 2019.

The school board will review applications with help from GSBA and is required by law to make public the names and applications of as many as three candidates being considered for the job at least 14 days before the meeting at which it votes on the appointment.

Groundbreaking is expected this year on Riverside Drive for a multi-million dollar condominium development project that stalled years ago due to environmental concerns that have been resolved. (Liz Fabian)

3. Resurrection of Renaissance on the River

Former Mercer University President Kirby Godsey, who was the founding chairman of NewTown Macon, is expected to hold a groundbreaking for a major development along Riverside Drive, NewTown Macon CEO Josh Rogers told Business Improvement District, or BID, members at the last meeting.

Godsey renewed his option with the Urban Development Authority on what was billed in 2011 as a $50 million, mixed-use development anchored by an upscale tower hotel with a top floor restaurant.

The project, which included condominiums, office space and a public parking deck, stalled due to environmental concerns from the land’s prior use as a gas manufacturing plant. Residue was buried on the site.

UDA attorney Blake Sharpton recently reviewed the environmental covenants that no longer bar residential development on the majority of the site between the Burger King and Barks N’ Brews dog park.

“We are clear of the state (Environmental Protection Division) to proceed with development on that site,” Shelton told the authority in October.

The restriction on a portion of the property to not dig down 15 feet is “not going to be a huge problem,” Shelton said.

In December, the Macon-Bibb County Commission agreed to transfer nearly 2.5 acres at 815 Riverside Drive to the authority to market for the proposed development.

UDA executive director Alex Morrison told the authority that Burger King may also expand its nearby location. The restaurant owner purchased some of the land from Macon-Bibb County a few years ago after the condominium project stalled.

NewTown Macon is setting an early 2022 goal of doubling downtown residency in the next five years. (Liz Fabian)

4. NewTown sets lofty goals for downtown

As NewTown’s  Josh Rogers contemplates the future for downtown, he sees an explosion of development on the horizon.

While briefing BID members at its December meeting, Rogers announced a goal of doubling the residential capacity of downtown and boosting storefront occupancy from 81percent to reach upwards of 90 percent.

The non-profit, public-private partnership wants to increase local ownership of buildings and boost minority entrepreneurship.

In February, the opening of upscale and trendy Hotel 45 will lure investors and developers to town, he believes.

NewTown hopes to help convert 20 entrepreneurs who are renting into property owners.

“We really felt like this was a moment in time and the time to make sure it stays local is now,” Rogers said.

He hopes to raise $15 million in a new capital campaign to establish sustainable lending programs to boost fledgling businesses.

In 2022, a marketing campaign will encourage downtown business owners to sign on for another 5-year-period of paying more in taxes to fund downtown ambassadors and local BID improvements.

Downtown businessman Bryan Nichols is already sold.

“As someone who has a lot of property around here… I’ve seen enough to renew,” Nichols said. “Just seeing them picking up trash… standing in the street having a conversation with someone visiting our town, and that’s huge.”

Erin Keller, NewTown Chief of Staff and Vice President for Development, said 2022 would see completion of enhancing the alleyways and work on a new children’s park in the Third Street median and a reconfiguring of the landscaping around the fountain near Cherry Street.

5. Bibb County Schools nonprofit plans inaugural kickoff

Bibb County Schools is planning an inaugural kickoff celebration that will take place in coming months to celebrate its new nonprofit foundation and encourage charitable giving.

The Bibb County Education Foundation Inc. was created in June to allow the school district to apply for grants and receive in-kind donations to spend on items such as teacher incentives, scholarship endowments, pizza parties, unique projects and other items it is prohibited from paying for with state and federal money.

“We’re able to utilize some of the funding that we received through a foundation in ways in which we could not do as a district,” said Lori Rodgers, assistant superintendent for district effectiveness and federal programs for the district and president of the new nonprofit.

The foundation presents “an opportunity for our community to actually give back if they would like to set an endowment aside in honor of a member of their family, or if they will just want to give that to a particular school,” she said.

The nonprofit is in the process of getting its 501(c)3 status approved by the Internal Revenue Service, Rodgers said. It is registered with the Georgia Secretary of State in Superintendent Curtis Jones’ name. In addition to Rodgers, the board of directors includes Bibb school board members Juawn Jackson and Lisa Garrett, schools spokeswoman Stephanie Hartley and former district Chief Financial Officer Ron Collier.

Hello Boba Cafe featuring Asian snacks and beverages is expected to open in January at 359 Third Street in the ground floor of the Dempsey Apartments. (Liz Fabian)

6. Say hello to Hello Boba Cafe

Downtown Macon will be home to a new business in the old Adriana’s Cafe at 359 Third Street in the ground floor of the Dempsey Apartments.

The Urban Development Authority is leasing space to Hello Boba Cafe, offering Boba Tea and Bubble Waffles in a bright and modern decor, according to realtor Stephanie Folsom.

“Boba Tea is a Taiwanese drink that classically combines milk tea with sweet and chewy tapioca pearls called boba,” according to the announcement on the business’s website.

Cassava root is a key ingredient of the tapioca balls that “offer a sort of ‘break’ from the same boring consistency,” the website explains.

The Bubble Waffles are snacks that are crispy on the outside and “fluffy” in each bubble. Ice cream and toppings are optional. The cafe also will offer Asian snacks, lemonade and macarons and plans to open in early January.

“I’m really excited about this business. It’s going to bring something different to downtown,” Folsom said as she announced the rental agreement to the authority.

Hello Boba owner Renee Tu said the decor will be inspired by anime, K-pop and cherry blossoms. Anime will be streaming on their projector, she said.

“We will also stock unique pre-packaged Asian snacks and treats which are hard to find in the area,” Tu said.

The Urban Development Authority is marketing a storefront for rental on Third Street and could also be looking for a new tenant for the old Acapulco restaurant if current renters fail to open The Lazy Donkey Mexican eatery by the first of the year. (Liz Fabian)

The UDA could be looking for up to two Dempsey retail tenants in 2022.

Not only is the former Alexandria’s boutique at 371 Cherry St. available, but the corner restaurant could also need a new occupant.

For years, the UDA has been patient with the owners of The Lazy Donkey Mexican restaurant which poised to open in the old Acapulco location at the corner of Third and Cherry Streets.

Work is nearing completion but only after multiple renovation and permitting delays. If the restaurant isn’t open by the first of the year, the authority is expected to end the lease and market the property to someone else.

The Friends of Rosa Parks Square Board walked through design with the architects last summer. The project is expected to be put out to bid in 2022. (Liz Fabian)

7. Rosa Parks Square coming into focus

For the civic leaders charged with renovating Rosa Parks Square, it’s been a long road to a short summer stroll across the park.

After years of talking and months of meetings, the excitement was palpable in June as the committee walked through the plans with the designer.

They pored over the design rendering from HGOR, the landscape design firm that developed plans originally approved following public input sessions in 2016.

In December, Friends of Rosa Parks Square Chairwoman Nancy Cleveland was relieved to finally have design-build drawings ready to solicit quotes and choose a contractor in 2022.

“Guys, I feel like we’ve been through a battle,” Cleveland said as she opened the meeting.

Once they have an idea of how much it will cost for the grading, landscaping, memorial wall of those who led during local civil rights struggles, Rosa Parks statue and stage area, the sub-committee can begin fundraising in earnest.

Nearly $1 million from the Urban Development Authority $23 million bond deal for Hotel 45 got the project started, but with recent hikes in the cost of building materials the board will need quotes to better determine whether the park renovation needs to be done in phases.

The Community Foundation of Central Georgia established a fund for online donations to the park effort. Once the vision for the park is clear, the board will be better able to raise funds, Cleveland said.

“We’ve gotten to the end of the road and we want to tell people about it,” she said. “I feel like next year when we kick off it’s going to be better than ever before… rocking and rolling.”

New pedestrian crosswalks at Bass Road and Interstate 75 are part of state safety enhancements but there are no sidewalks on that busy thoroughfare. (Grant Blankenship)

8. Walking Audits in Bibb County neighborhoods

The Macon-Bibb County Pedestrian Safety Review Board will have boots on the ground in 2022 as it recruits residents to partake in upcoming walking audits to help identify areas in need of improvements for safety.

Board members, engineers and county commissioners are expected to walk with residents to document issues and needs together. The first walking audit took place in Pleasant Hill but the board is working with neighborhood associations to identify more areas to audit. The ​​board is offering a $50 gift certificate as an incentive for people to participate.

There were 15 pedestrian fatalities in 2021, a record high for Bibb County so far this century.

9. Macon-Bibb Economic Opportunity Council builds new digs, new Head Start centers

The Macon-Bibb County Economic Opportunity Council is building a new administrative building downtown and plans to build one or two new Head Start centers next year.

Macon-Bibb Economic Opportunity Council Inc.

The EOC is set to start construction at its new facility at 456 Bay St., a half mile from its current digs at 1680 Broadway. It was permitted in November to lay the foundation for a storage warehouse at 453 Hazel St., across the street from its future site on Bay Street.

The nonprofit has operated out of a suite in the Broadway office building since 2014 when it moved there from a county building on Second Street. The Broadway office was owned by Cliffard Whitby, former chairman of the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority and unsuccessful candidate in the 2020 Mayor’s race. Whitby’s company, Prizm Enterprises, sold the building in July for $3.5 million to Alpharetta-based Spry Holdings LLC, according to property records.

EOC Executive Director Sarita Hill declined to be interviewed for this brief but agreed to answer questions via email. Hill said the reason for moving the office from the Broadway location is “to transition the agency from rental offices to ownership.”

Warren Construction was contracted to build the new administration building and construction is expected to take up to 18 months, Hill said. The size of the building and estimated cost to build it are “to be determined” as “funding is in the process of being secured,” Hill said.

In June, EOC advertised a request for proposals to build two new Head Start centers. Hill said the EOC is “in the process of seeking funding to build one, possibly two, new Head Start facilities.”

One of the facilities will be located at the old Ellsworth Hall Elementary School on Shurling Drive.

The Bibb County Board of Education previously discussed selling the building but voted in August to transfer ownership of the property to the EOC.

10. Paying Macon Water Authority for a rainy day

Although the Macon Water Authority has been responsible for the county’s stormwater management since the start of 2021, customers will begin paying for the service in 2022.

Residential water customers will be billed $4.99 per month but industrial and commercial customers will be billed $4.99 per 2,200 square feet of impervious surfaces, such as roofs and parking lots.

A Mercer Village patron dashes through stormwater runoff during a spring thunderstorm outside Francar’s restaurant. The Macon Water Authority responded that week and drained the sewer a couple of days after the flash flood. (Liz Fabian)

A recent study showed Macon’s crumbling infrastructure of sewers and pipes has about 15-20 years of deferred capital improvements, according to the authority.

MWA chairman Sam Hart said more than $300 million worth of work is needed on the system, according to estimates.

“Even if you had the $300 million you still couldn’t accomplish that in one year,” Hart said at the conclusion of a November board meeting.

Guy Boyle, the authority’s vice president of business operations, told the board he anticipated the stormwater management operation would break even in 2022 after running multi-million dollar deficits in 2021 for lack of collecting user fees.

The Macon Water Authority covered those costs, but the stormwater management division will pay that money back once it collects revenue.

Boyle anticipates being able to bank money for capital improvements after a year of billing.
“If we’re lucky… in 2023 with a full year of revenue… we can expect $1.5 – $2.5 million available for capital projects after paying operational costs,” Boyle said in November.

11. Eyes on old Appling Middle

Stanley Stewart implores the Bibb County Board of Education to consider maintaining the vacant Appling Middle School building in a regular meeting in December 2021. (Laura Corley)

When the new Appling Middle School building opened to students a year ago, it was unclear what would happen to the old school building on Shurling Drive.

The Bibb County Board of Education has not formally voted to demolish the vacant school. Even so, word around East Macon is there is a possibility it will be demolished and replaced with a parking lot for the new sports complex.

Residents of East Macon who attended the school decades ago have been outspoken in various recent public meetings about their desire to keep the old building.

Stanley Stewart, who ran unsuccessfully in the 2019 mayoral race, implored the school board at its December meeting to recognize the historic value and significance of the building to the surrounding community.

“That building could be turned into a Hilton Garden Inn to service the 48th Brigade, which is right next door,” Stewart said. “Individuals living in Fort Hill could walk to work and it could be a spillover for the Marriott … It would be an economic boon for that area.”

Bibb School Board President Daryl Morton said the issue of the old building has popped up on  the board’s radar in recent months.

“A lot of times it’s difficult to deal with surplus property,” Morton said, adding that vacant buildings quickly depreciate and are often burglarized or vandalized. “The notion was not to punish those who like Appling, that’s part of why you have a brand new school a mile up the road.”

Peter G. Appling opened in 1958 to relieve crowded conditions at Ballard-Hudson, the county’s only black high school at the time.

Return to www.Macon-Newsroom.com in 2022 for updates on this story.

12. MWA’s new director comes home

Joseph “Joey” Leverette becomes the new executive director of the Macon Water Authority in January. (Submitted photo)

The first of the year welcomes new Macon Water Authority Executive Director Joey Leverette to the job and back to his hometown.

The MWA reviewed about 40 applications and conducted 10 Zoom interviews, authority chairman Sam Hart said.

“We were very satisfied with the first meeting,” Hart said. “His connection to the Macon area and he’s extremely knowledgeable about water and stormwater, which the authority has taken over.”

Leverette was born in Macon but grew up in Houston County and most recently served as director of Water Distribution & Wastewater Collections for Gainesville Regional Utilities in Florida.

He received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Georgia and his Master’s Degree in public administration from Georgia College & State University.

Leverette accepted the $300,000 annual salary with an added benefit of an automobile of his choice for his personal and business use, pending board approval of the vehicle.

The one-year contract could be renewed after a performance evaluation in his eleventh month on the job.

Leverette replaces Tony Rojas who announced his retirement through a joint statement with the authority last spring. His departure resulted in a $1.4 million settlement agreement with the authority.

The Myers McRae search firm and the board narrowed the finalists to Leverette and Tony Carnell, who is deputy manager of the Henry County Water Authority. Carnell withdrew his name from consideration during the 14-day waiting period before the authority could make its final selection.

After the board approved Leverette, Hart praised the efforts of the MWA staff during the six months without an executive director.  He said he is excited about Leverette’s arrival.

“The entire board is behind his hiring and we plan to give him all the support he needs to move the authority in the right direction,” Hart said.

Jason Aldean recorded the “If I didn’t love you single” with Carrie Underwood for his upcoming Macon, Georgia album. (jasonaldean.com)

13. Macon a mecca of Americana Music

Visit Macon is about to show the local music scene a little more “Love” in 2022.

The Convention & Visitors Bureau has hired former Georgia Music Hall of Fame Director Lisa Love to help the county capitalize on its rich music history and create a “true music city.” persona.

Visit Macon CEO Gary Wheat told the board in November that he’s set a goal to become a true music destination in the next three to five years.

“We’re going to amp things up a bit and share things with the rest of the world,” Wheat said in the meeting.

Love has been serving as director of music marketing and development at the Georgia Department of Economic Development, but she wanted to move back to Macon.

After she heard Wheat’s development plan, she facilitated a workshop with the Visit Macon staff.

From that session, Love’s formulated a blueprint to tap into establishing Macon as a mecca for Americana music, the genre that plays on The Creek 100.9.

“Macon is a music tourism destination,” she told the board. “A music city is a more well-rounded music economy.”

The community is poised to capitalize even further on its heritage with the pending release of Jason Aldean’s new album, Macon, Georgia.

The media attention that will be focused on Aldean’s hometown is marketing gold.

The singer, who has chosen the Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Olson Children’s Hospital as a means to give back to the community, explained his rationale for naming the album.

“My little hometown of Macon was heavily instrumental in my musical background. Growing up in an environment that was a crossroads between Country music, Southern rock, Blues and R&B, it was just natural to blend different sounds in my own way,” Aldean stated in the announcement.

She envisions live music that thrives with receptive and engaged audiences from inside and outside of the market.

Music education programs at the local colleges and universities, the amphitheatre project and current venues all contribute to establishing a vibrant music-based economy, she said.

“I’ve just been back for two weeks and have been astonished about all the live music that is here,” Love said in November. “Macon has a real economic opportunity. It’s a cradle of Americana.”

14. A new captain as P&Z heads ‘to battle’

The Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission begins 2022 still searching for its next executive director.

Retiring executive director Jim Thomas was honored by the Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission staff at a retirement luncheon December 15 at Terminal Station. (Liz Fabian)

Commission Chairwoman Jeane Easom said the commission interviewed several candidates via Zoom in early December, but had more applicants to screen.

Retiring Executive Director Jim Thomas has agreed to stay on until a new director can be on board and trained, if necessary.

Mayor Lester Miller and others have advocated for changes in the codes that govern zoning in the county. P&Z is already considering changes regulating convenience stores after issuing a 90-day moratorium in the fall.

“I feel like a captain leaving the ship as it heads to battle, but it’s time,” Thomas said at his retirement luncheon at Terminal Station. “I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be around. This is our community. I”ll be there watching from the sidelines.”

Miller has mentioned moving P&Z from downtown to the Macon Mall, which is slated to undergo renovations as part of a $40 million bond project that is to include the building of a 10,000 capacity amphitheater on the property.

Renovation has begun on the Macon Housing Authority’s Mounts Homes in Pleasant Hill. Three historic MHA properties are slated for renovation beginning in 2022. (Liz Fabian)

15. Macon Housing Authority’s building boom

The new year promises to be a busy one for the Macon Housing Authority which will be renovating three existing properties, completing two others under construction and breaking ground on two new developments in Macon-Bibb County.

In November, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs approved Low Income Housing Tax Credits for Peake Point, a $12 million, 60-unit senior housing development behind Lowe’s on Zebulon Road.

The authority also is poised to begin construction on Central City Apartments at the base of Walnut Street near the entrance to Carolyn Crayton Park.

In conjunction with DePaul USA, MHA is building 80 units of workforce housing that will include several rooms to serve as a health respite for those living on the streets.

The authority also has begun renovations of Mounts Homes in Pleasant Hill and plans to rehabilitate Davis and Murphey Homes, as well.

Kathleen Mathews, director of In-Fill Housing Inc., said Tindall Fields III is nearly complete and should be fully occupied at the beginning of the year.

Construction of Northside Senior Apartments is well underway on Northside Drive near Tom Hill Sr. Boulevard, but is experiencing some delays due to supply chain issues.

The authority gets calls daily about renting the new units but the complex is not even halfway complete.

“It just speaks volumes for the huge demand for affordable housing here in Macon-Bibb,” MHA executive director,” Mike Austin said. “And we’re just doing everything in our power to meet that demand.”

16. Firefighters change shifts and uniforms

On January 9, Macon-Bibb County firefighters join colleagues across the state in working schedules based on three shifts of rotation, which establishes longer rest periods and more opportunities for promotions. (Liz Fabian)

By mid-January, Macon-Bibb County firefighter schedules will be in line with most other departments in the country

Interim Fire Chief Shane Edwards appealed to county commissioners for a third shift beginning January 9.

County Manager Keith Moffett said the new schedules will allow more flexibility.

“This is something we’ve contemplated for years,” Moffett said. “We feel now is the proper time to do it in January at the first of the year.”

Commissioners signed off on the plan in December.

Instead of two shifts working a day on and then a day off with a few off days in a row during a two week period, there will be three rotating shifts.

Firefighters will work three pairs of on-off days in a row and then have a sequence of four days off.

Mayor Lester Miller said the change allows the county to be competitive in recruiting firefighters who work the same schedule across the state. Macon-Bibb has been an outlier.

“We’ll have a lot more opportunity for upper mobility,” Miller said.

The department will be promoting officers to supervise the third shifts.

“It’s a great opportunity for our firefighters to be able to be promoted in the very near future,” Edwards said.

Savings from overtime expenses are expected to offset salary increases with promotions, although firefighter base salaries will stay the same.

Edwards said the 4-day breaks provide more time for firefighters to rest and clear their system of harmful smoke.

The county also is expected to change uniforms for suppression units, the firefighters who actually fight the blazes. Edwards heard complaints that crews find it nearly impossible to keep the blue and white buttoned shirts clean.

Uniforms for administrative officers and fire prevention staff will remain the same along with the department’s dress uniforms, Edwards said.

17. School Board districts to be redrawn

The boundaries of Bibb County’s six school board districts will likely change in 2022.

Data from the 2020 Census reflects population growth on the north and west sides of the county and population loss in all other parts.

Districts that saw the greatest declines include: District 5, which encompasses a portion of the central and north parts of the county and is represented by BOE member Sundra Woodford, and District 1, the county’s east side, which represented by BOE member Myrtice Johnson, according to data from the Middle Georgia Regional Commission.

The most growth was noted in District 6, which encompasses the north end of the county and is represented by BOE member James Freeman. The second most growth occurred in District 4, the west side of the county represented by BOE member Juawn Jackson.

The Middle Georgia Regional Commission is working with the Bibb County BOE to reconfigure the boundaries so that each district represents roughly 26,224 people. The boundaries are different from school zones and only affect representation on the BOE.

Boundaries for districts were last changed in 2012 after the 2010 Census.

The Macon-Bibb County Library’s Board of Trustees is looking to buy this building at 5494 Forsyth Road. (Bibb County Tax Assessor’s website)

18. Bibb County Library Board eyes Forsyth Road building

The Bibb County Library Board of Trustees is looking to buy a former day care facility on the county’s north end.

The board approved Nov. 16 to spend up to $15,000 on a sole-source contract with BTBB Inc. to survey the building at 5494 Forsyth Road. The survey is to ensure the building is suited to accommodate the library’s needs.

The property has been bank-owned since a 2020 foreclosure and is valued at $447,851, according to property records.

Results of the building survey will determine if the library will purchase the property.

Asked about the status of the survey in December, Middle Georgia Library Director Jennifer Lautzenhiser said no new information was available. Library Board of Trustees Chairwoman Sherri Goss declined to say whether the survey had been completed.

 

19. Department of Justice continues investigation into Georgia prisons

Georgia Department of Corrections

The CCJ is continuing to report on what is happening inside the walls of Georgia Department of Corrections’ prisons after the U.S. Department of Justice announced in September a state-wide civil investigation into conditions at facilities across the state.

The DOJ investigation is focused on determining whether state prisoners are reasonably safe from physical harm at the hands of other prisoners. It also is investigating whether the state offers reasonable protections for LGBTQIA inmates from sexual abuse by corrections officers and other prisoners.

If you or someone you know has information that could be helpful to CCJ’s coverage, email [email protected]. To submit tips to the DOJ, email [email protected].

20. Congress & Senate races

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, Democratic incumbent, is pitted against University of Georgia football legend Herschel Walker, a Republican challenger backed by former President Donald Trump.

In a 2021 runoff, Warnock defeated Kelly Loeffler, a Republican appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to serve the remaining term of the late Sen. Johnny Isakson.

Other Democratic challengers include Tamara Johnson-Shealey and Marckeith DeJesus. Republican challengers for the seat include: Latham Saddler, Gary Black, Kelvin King, Jared Craig and Reece Wright McDonald,  according to December data from the Federal Election Commission.

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, Democratic incumbent representing Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District, also is up for re-election. Bishop has held the office since 1993. Democrat Joe O’Hara is challenging Bishop in the May primary. Republican challengers include Vivian Childs, Tracy Taylor, Christopher West and Arthur Johnson, according to the Federal Election Commission. Qualifying will take place March 7-11.

21. Local races

Bibb County residents will have an opportunity to vote in the May 24 primary for local offices. Qualifying will take place March 7-11. The deadline to register to vote is April 25.

The following incumbents are up for re-election here:

  • Bibb County Board of Education post 7 at large: Daryl Morton
  • Bibb County Board of Education post 8 at large: Lisa W. Garrett
  • Macon Water Authority Chairman: Sam Hart
  • Macon Water Authority District 1 Anissa Jones
  • Macon Water Authority District 4: Frank Patterson
  • Judge of Superior Court, Macon Circuit: Judge Howard Simms, Judge David Mincey III, Judge Philip T. Raymond III, Judge Connie Wolliford
  • Judge of Civil Court: Pamela Y. White-Colbert
  • Judge of State Court: Jeff Hanson, Sharrell Lewis

22. Governor’s race

Gov. Brian Kemp will vie against Democrat Stacey Abrams again and also Republican candidate David Perdue. Perdue, a Perry native, entered the gubernatorial race in early December with the blessing of former President Donald Trump. Perdue qualified days after Abrams announced her second bid against Kemp.

The election is likely to have major implications for the state’s political future as the GOP reckons with its identity in a post-Trump era amid changing demographics that have shifted the Peach State from red to purple.

Editor’s note: This article was been updated correct an error regarding the election in which U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock is challenged by Herschel Walker. An earlier version of this article misidentified the area represented by Bibb County Board of Education member Juawn Jackson. Jackson represents the western part of the county.