Southwest Georgia has historically been a Democratic stronghold, but when voter turnout and enthusiasm are low and voter apathy is high, conservatives have been able to achieve success.
Incumbent Jay Powell, who assumed office as the representative of State House District 171 in 2009, is running against James R.C. Timmons, a first-time candidate and he is a minister.
Powell is the former long-time Republican mayor of the majority African-American city Camilla in Mitchell County who was defeated in a historic election in 2007that led to Mary Jo Haywood to become the city’s first African-American and woman to be major in the city’s history.
After Powell’s defeat, a few short months later, a surprising departure helped open the proverbial door for him when Dixiecrat Republican Richard Royal, elected in 1983, announced at the last minute of qualifying in the spring of 2008 that he was retiring his District 171 seat.
Jay Powell essentially became the de facto state senator because he had no opponent in the primary and no Democrats bothered to qualify.
This time around Timmons has offered his name to become District 171’s next state representative.
The district consists of Colquitt and Mitchell counties.
Just like the rest of the state, the city of Camilla and Mitchell County had dealt with the loss of industry in the area such as the local Wal-Mart that recently announced they were closing their Camilla store and rebuilding from natural disasters over the past decade.
On February 13 and February 14, 2000, four deadly tornadoes tore through several counties of southwest Georgia, killing 19 and causing extensive damage to neighborhoods near the city of Camilla, where eleven died, as well as the area north of Meigs, where six died.
The F-3 tornado destroyed and 250 others damaged were damaged. Damage estimates were at $20 million.