It’s narrowed the choices to two, but Augusta’s ad-hoc redistricting committee isn’t done yet, with a fourth public hearing on the process scheduled for today.
Still in the running are two draft maps of coinciding Augusta Commission and Richmond County school board district lines, both prepared by consultant Linda Meggers.
Based on 2010 census data and unseating no incumbent, both alternatives show six districts that are majority black or multiracial including black.
Where they differ is in the concentration of blacks, with Plan 2 making districts 2, 4, 5 and 9 more than 70 percent black, while Plan 3 creates what committee member Sen. Hardie Davis, D-Gracewood, called “coin-toss” districts.
Reflected in Plan 3 are six districts – 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 9 – that are now between 64 percent and 69.7 percent all or part black.
The third map raises the black percentage in District 6, currently held by white men, although Commissioner Joe Jackson is term-limited, to 69.7 percent.
Under existing lines, the south Augusta district came out at 52.99 percent black in the 2010 census, and Plan 2 kept it at 52.97 percent. District 6 school board member Jack Padgett Jr. favored Plan 2 over Plan 3, which he said gave him “a direct hit.”
Plan 2 added precincts along Mike Padgett Highway to District 6, while Plan 3 draws precincts west of Windsor Spring Road into District 6.
Plan 3 also adds an area west of Boy Scout Road to District 3, extends the western part of District 7 south to Wrightsboro Road and adds part of National Hills to District 1.
On Nov. 9, the 12-member redistricting committee chaired by Augusta Commissioner Alvin Mason voted to eliminate Meggers’ first and fourth drafts, leaving two from which the committee may choose while leaving open the potential for slight modifications.
The fourth draft, a plan requested by Davis, drew all of Fort Gordon into District 4, now represented by Mason and school board member Barbara Pulliam. It otherwise resembled Plan 3, surpassing 70 percent black only in District 5.
Richmond County Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey said the fourth public hearing was being held because the public hadn’t had a opportunity to weigh in on Plan 3, which was not in existence when the three earlier hearings were held.