Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Ga. State Rep. James Beverly will not seek re-election

Democrat Anissa Jones and Republican Barbara Boyer have qualified to run for the House District 143 seat
Laura Corley | The Macon Newsroom
Rep. James Beverly, D-Macon, right, applauds a speaker at the black-tie fundraising gala for the Macon-Bibb Community Enhancement Authority in the rotunda of the Tubman African American Museum on Oct. 29, 2022.

State Rep. James Beverly (D-Macon) will not seek reelection after representing parts of Bibb County in the Georgia legislature for more than a decade.

The optometrist from Baltimore was first voted into office in 2011, when he defeated Macon Democrat Anissa Jones in a state House race. 

On Monday, Jones, who is currently a Macon Water Authority board member, qualified to run for House District 143. She’ll compete against Republican candidate Barbara Boyer in November. No other candidates qualified for the election, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

Upon qualifying, Jones vacated her District 1 seat on the Macon Water Authority, which she has held since 2018 after an unsuccessful bid to unseat Dorothy Black in 2014. 

At Thursday’s MWA meeting, a tearful Jones said it was a bittersweet time as she is proud of the work she has done on the authority. 

“This was a very hard decision to make to leave the warmth and support of each and every one of you, but God has a bigger purpose for me in my life than just here. I want to be able to help the Water Authority on a statewide level  and the constituents of Georgia, and better yet, Bibb and Houston County,” Jones told her former colleagues and MWA employees. 

Because Jones has more than 120 days remaining in her term, which expires in 2026, a special election will be called during the November General Election.

MWA Chairman Gary Bechtel said he plans to speak to other board members “to get their thoughts about who could contribute to the board over the next eight-to-nine months.”

MWA’s by-laws call for a Bibb County probate judge to appoint someone to serve in the interim. 

In recent vacancies in MWA District 2, the judge appointed someone outside that district to ensure that person would not be eligible to run for the seat in the special election. 

House minority leader

Beverly, who ran unopposed in 2018 and 2020, recently finished a second two-year term as House minority leader, replacing Bob Trammell. 

Just before a federal judge ordered the general assembly to redraw district lines late last year, retired Bibb County educator Tangie Herring had been gearing up to run against Beverly in the May election.

However, Herring’s home was drawn out of the 143rd district, so she qualified for the newly drawn 145th district. 

During his time in the General Assembly, Beverly, who is a member of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, served on multiple committees, including rules, appropriations, ethics, health and human services and small business development.

Beverly, 55, didn’t count out a future run for public office. He told the Associated Press that his decision was made in part because of how House District 143 was redrawn to include a chunk of Houston County, which is historically more conservative, and because the Democrats are unlikely to win a majority in the House.

Enhancement Authority

Shortly after taking office in 2011, Beverly spearheaded the creation of the Macon-Bibb Community Enhancement Authority, a legislatively created political subdivision of the state whose sole mission is to reduce poverty in the poorest census tracts in Bibb County. 

The authority received millions of dollars from the Georgia Department of Transportation to relocate and build homes in Pleasant Hill, a historically Black neighborhood divided by the original construction of Interstate 75 in the late ‘60s. 

The new and rehabilitated homes the authority was tasked with constructing or moving were meant to increase the availability of affordable houses in the neighborhood as part of a plan to reduce potential further harm to the neighborhood from the current interchange expansion project at I-75 and I-16. 

A Macon Newsroom investigation in 2022 found the authority’s work was incomplete and most homes were either unoccupied, purchased by associates of Beverly’s or acquired by Mosaic Development, a limited liability company once registered to Beverly and later Tedra Huston, the authority’s recently resigned executive director. 

The connection between the companies and the authority remains unclear. 

In 2018, when the authority sought money from the county to fund the Little Richard House museum, Beverly came under scrutiny by Macon-Bibb County Commissioners who questioned the $65,000 annual salary he earned working as the authority’s executive director before Huston was hired. 

Beverly did not return a request for comment on his decision not to run for HD 143 by publication time.

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