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Hudson keeps Georgia House desk in family

ATLANTA - As in real estate, location is everything when it comes to who sits where in the chambers of the House and Senate.

Fortunately for state Rep. Sistie Hudson, D-Sparta, her spot is one of the worst seats in the House.

A fourth-generation legislator in her family, Rep. Hudson -- who represents McDuffie County -- has fought hard and negotiated twice to hang onto the desk her great-grandfather first occupied in 1927. Desk No. 146 sits in the middle of a cramped row toward the back of the cavernous House chamber.

"It's a horrible location," Rep. Hudson said. "It's just tradition, and I'm proud to have it."

When control of House switched over from Democrats to Republicans this year, the historic transformation trickled down to even the most minute details.

Office locations, parking spaces and the chamber seating chart were tossed up for approval by the new Republican leaders. GOP committee chairmen and officers moved closer to the front or along the aisle where they could more easily maneuver without being boxed in.

Rep. Hudson, who first had to negotiate for her family desk as a freshman legislator in 1997, found herself again swapping with a colleague in order to lay claim to No. 146.

Resembling old-fashioned schoolhouse desks, the pieces are as old as the Capitol itself, which was built in the late 1880s. But any tracings of family markings - if they were left - were wiped away during the periodic restorations of the Georgia cherry wood.

While family bonds and the power pecking order determine desk choice for some legislators, state Reps. Jane Kidd and Keith Heard were guided by another tradition.

In the arcing swath of 179 seats - Speaker Glenn Richardson gets his own spacious podium at the front of the chamber - Kidd and Heard occupy the Athens' bloc that has been home to the area's representatives for more than a decade.

In the early 90s, Lawton Stephens passed along the desk to longtime legislator Louise McBee, who with her retirement last year, passed it to Kidd.

Kidd's chamber neighbor, Heard, inherited his desk from Mike Thurmond.

"Throughout the years when they gained seniority, they had an opportunity to move and chose not to move," Kidd said of her predecessors. "I was hoping that it would work out so that I could kind of continue that tradition."

Web posted on Thursday, February 3, 2005


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