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Panel moves forward with controversial Richmond County redistricting plan

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 11:11 AM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Richmond County ad hoc redistricting committee voted Monday to move forward with a plan that has drawn some opposition from residents for the way it splits some neighborhoods into multiple districts.

The vote — which is still not the final word on the map — was 6-3 for the map to determine the districts for the Augusta Commission and county school board.

Each district has its own representative on the respective panels, and the residents vote by district. Under the law, districts must be redrawn every 10 years, based on the results of the census, to ensure that each has the same number of residents. This ensures equal representation on the panels.

One of the principles of good redistricting is not to split communities or areas of common culture or interest. However, it does happen and is sometimes necessary to the populations balanced between districts.

The so-called “minimal change” map proposal had drawn negative input from some residents because it splits some neighborhoods. At the same time, the districts do closely match the current ones in shape and geographical area.

Proposed Richmond County redistricting map.
Proposed Richmond County redistricting map.(WRDW)

Despite the negative input, the committee decided to move forward with that map.

The proposal still must be approved by other agencies and bodies, but it’s the map being recommended by the ad hoc committee.

Among the area being split under the map is the Summerville neighborhood, which could be in three different districts. That means you could have one commissioner, but your neighbor across the street has someone completely different.

WATCH MONDAY’S MEETING:

Among the Summerville residents coming out against the plan at an earlier feedback meeting was Tara Conway.

“It doesn’t work well. You can’t have three different commissioners for your neighborhood. You need one commissioner that goes and fights,” said Conway.

But Lynn Bailey, director of the local elections agency, pointed out that balancing the population is the one main requirement of redistricting.

“At the end of the day, the primary factor is getting the districts balanced in number so you have equal representation amongst all the districts,” she said.

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