Republican incumbent Beth Beskin and Democrat Bob Gibeling are battling for the District 54 state House seat in the Nov. 8 general election.

Beskin bested Gibeling and independent Bill Bozarth with 59.1 percent of the vote in the 2014 campaign. Gibeling and Bozarth had 29.8 percent and 11.1 percent, respectively. This year neither candidate had opposition in the May 24 primary. Beskin defeated three opponents in the 2014 Republican primary, while Gibeling was unopposed on the Democratic side. District 54 includes historic Brookhaven and most of Buckhead.

Beskin, a lawyer specializing in family law, estate planning and ERISA litigation, ran for the District 38 State Senate seat in 2010, losing to incumbent Democrat Horacena Tate. The following year, Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Beskin as his liaison to the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education when the district was placed on accredited probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. She served in that role for a year and a half. Beskin said she is running for re-election “because I want to continue my work representing House District 54 under the Gold Dome.”

“I’ve worked hard to represent everyone in our district and feel my important committee assignments, including the [House] judiciary committee, the education committee and MARTOC (the MARTA overview/budget committee), including chairing the governance subcommittee, can greatly benefit my district and our state,” she said.

Beskin said she has been endorsed by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business.

“I tried to be responsive and accessible to our district, even those who may not have voted for me,” she said. “I think my qualifications, including as a lawyer, and my experience, including the last two years, make me the best representative at the Capitol. The fact that I’m a chair of a subcommittee shows that I have the respect of my colleagues. I’m furthering our interests down at the statehouse.”

Gibeling is a retired businessman who worked in the marketing field and for nonprofits for a combined 40 years. For more than 50 years the former Republican has volunteered for both Republican and Democratic political campaigns, and for more than 20 years Gibeling has advocated for issues in the Georgia Legislature and U.S. Congress. He also said he had a 90 percent success rate in getting public policy resolutions passed by local, regional and national assemblies of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and was appointed to the Fulton County AIDS Task Force by Fulton County Commissioner Lee Morris.

Gibeling said there are at least three reasons why he feels this year he has a better shot of winning than in 2014.

“The most dramatic is the results of the [2016] primary,” he said. “In 2014 there were 2,900 more people who voted in the Republican primary than Democrats primary in this [district] seat. This year the bottom dropped out with only 147 more Republicans than Democrats voting. Second, it’s a presidential election year and it’s common wisdom that Democrats turn out in larger numbers in presidential election years. Third, I serve as a vice president (of community alliances, in charge of creating service projects) of the Buckhead Business Association and increased my visibility in the community tremendously and brought goodwill through that. I have several members of the BBA who tell me I’m the only Democrat they’re supporting.”

Gibeling said he’s running again to “move Georgia forward to the future.”

“I think the Legislature is really scared to death of our increasingly diverse multiracial fate,” he said. “They keep passing laws that show they’re scared of the future. I want people to know I will be a representative to embrace the future with confidence and not fear. I think the people of Buckhead feel that way. They want the Legislature to feature that positive orientation.”

Gibeling said he has been endorsed by two labor unions: AFL-CIO and the Georgia Labor Council. If elected, he said he will work to strengthen Georgia’s civil rights law to ban job discrimination based on several categories.

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