Now that the governor has signed off on the new Georgia house and senate district maps, Newton County seems assured of adding Sen. Ronald B. Ramsey (D-43) and Rep. Steve Davis (R-109) to its slate of legislators.
By law the maps must be approved by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, and it's widely expected that Democrats will challenge the Republican-authored maps in court. However, Newton County does not appear to be at the forefront of any disputes, and, barring any major changes, Newton residents will need to get to know their new legislators before the General Assembly reconvenes in January.
Ramsey, 51, has been representing the majority of Rockdale County and the southeastern portion of DeKalb County since 2006.
During redistricting he saw his district grow as he lost a small portion of DeKalb and southern Rockdale, while grabbing the northwest chunk of Newton, including Oxford, Porterdale and the western half of Covington.
While some Democrats decried the maps as harmful to minority voters and incumbents - several Democrats will be forced to run for reelection against each other - Ramsey said he felt he was treated fairly.
"I certainly enjoy representing the citizens of Rockdale, and, of course, DeKalb and will enjoy representing Newton County," he said by phone earlier this week. "You have some very fine people that I've had the opportunity to meet even before the maps were introduced. I look forward to the beautiful countryside there. I love the pace (of life), and there is a very rich heritage and history in Newton County."
Ramsey said he believes Newton will fit well into Senate District 43, noting Covington is only an extra eight-mile drive on the highway.
"I will have to meet with citizens to see if they have issues that are unique to the area," he said. "I think most Georgians who live in this region share common concerns and interests. The way to understand those is to talk and listen to people; I'm excited about it."
Ramsey lives in Decatur and has been a lawyer for nearly 20 years, including a stint as municipal court judge in Stone Mountain for seven years. He was also previously an investigator and attorney for the federal government.
"I love people. I've been married for 26 years. I have two kids in college. I'm a Christian. I am a strong democrat, but I do have very conservative principles and values," Ramsey said when asked to describe himself.
He said his key issues are improving the quality of education and improving living standards for senior citizens and the disabled community.
He serves on five committees, including being vice chairman of the special judiciary committee and chairman of the urban affairs committee.
Ramsey earned his bachelor's degree from North Carolina Central University in 1981 and received his law degree from John Marshall Law School in 1992, according to the law school's website.
To learn more about Ramsey, residents can email him at email@example.com, call him at 404-463-2598 or visit his website ronaldramsey.org.
He said he hopes to hold a town hall meeting in Newton County in the future along with new U.S. Congressman Hank Johnson (D-Lithonia).
In addition to a new state senator, many residents in Newton's western half likely have new representation in the house as well.
The only completely new representative is Steve Davis, who saw his district shift northeast under redistricting. He previously held the middle swath of Henry County, including nearly all of McDonough, but under the new map would retain only a small part of McDonough, while adding southern portions of Rockdale and Newton counties.
Davis, who lives in the Kelleytown community in Henry County (about eight miles north of McDonough) said he feels the shift is positive because he will be centrally located between all three counties.
"I believe the areas within Rockdale and Newton counties fit very well. We are all suburban areas that have similar roads, schools, communities and issues," Davis said in a Saturday email. "I live in the ‘Tri County' area within one mile of both Rockdale and Newton counties, and I should be able respond to the citizens needs quite effectively."
Davis, 40, is a real estate broker and CEO of Cape Real Estate Sales and Trading in McDonough.
"I am a conservative Republican that believes in less government, less taxes, traditional family values, personal responsibility and community service, and I support both public and private education," he said.
Davis was elected in 2004 and is in his fourth term. He is a member of six committees, including chairman of the information and audits committee and secretary of state planning and community affairs committee.
He and his wife, Melissa, have three children Ryan, 22, Kelli, 16, and Ashli, 14.
For more information residents can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 404-656-0254.