Augusta senator hopeful about district map

Redistricting plan could be in place by May

 

 

Despite the lack of a supporting resolution from the Augusta Commission, Sen. Hardie Davis, D-Augusta, thinks redistricting Plan 3R could be in place by the start of May qualifying for five posts each on the commission and Richmond County school board.


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The plan, which creates six majority-black and four majority-white commission and school board districts, won 12-0 approval by the ad hoc committee that created it, but hit a nonbinding snag when the Augusta Commission twice failed to endorse it.

The ad hoc committee, chaired by Commissioner Alvin Mason, “broke through the 1,000-pound elephant in the room that we dumb down in Augusta called ‘race,’ ” Davis said.

Previewing the 2012 session of the Georgia General Assembly with reporters Thursday, Davis said the plan has the required support – both state senators and a majority of Augusta’s four state representatives – to glide easily through the Legislature and obtain the governor’s signature by March.

Sen. Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro, and Rep. Earnest Smith, D-Augusta, have not indicated their opinions about the map, while the rest of the delegation served on the committee that unanimously approved it.

March approval will give the U.S. Department of Justice the 60 days it typically needs to preclear a voting district map, allowing the plan to be in place when qualifying for school board and commission elections begins in May, Davis said.

“We don’t have time to delay just to have a catfight,” he said.

Davis expressed several other points Thursday, including:

• A desire to sit down with the commission and community for a “formulative conversation” about revising consolidated Augusta-Richmond County’s charter

• His desire to pass a bill this year eliminating term limits for the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority

• That House Bill 158, which moved the date of school board, judicial and consolidated government elections from November to July, never applied to the Augusta-Richmond County commission

• His support for rescinding a sales tax on energy used for manufacturing, and replacing the $145 million the tax generates with something such as a flat excise tax on communications

• The appeal to him of merging Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University, creating “a world class stopping point for students”

• His support for a new 1-cent regional transportation sales tax and keeping a referendum on the tax in July, although the Legislature may consider moving it to November

• His interest in building contractors’ concerns about the impact of immigration reform

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