Government

More News | | | Editor

Augusta-Richmond County redistricting under way

Commissioner Alvin Mason to chair committee

  • Follow Government

Augusta-Richmond County officials took their first steps toward redrawing commission and school board lines Tuesday, and their work is cut out for them.

Back | Next
Frank Dolan, of School Board District 7, participates in the voting process to elect a redistricting chair during a committee meeting. Census data from 2010 show most of the commission and school board districts are off from their ideal population size of 25,069.  JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
Frank Dolan, of School Board District 7, participates in the voting process to elect a redistricting chair during a committee meeting. Census data from 2010 show most of the commission and school board districts are off from their ideal population size of 25,069.

Census data from 2010 show most of the Augusta Commission and Richmond County school board districts are off from their ideal population size of 25,069. Furthest under is District 1, currently represented by school board member Marion Barnes and Commissioner Matt Aitken, which is 4,165 shy of its ideal population. Furthest over its ideal size is District 3, now represented by Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles and school board President Alex Howard.

The population disparity means a 12-member committee must redraw district lines to more evenly distribute people among them in a manner that does not dilute minority voting strength.

The committee will be headed by District 4 Augusta Commissioner Alvin Mason, who will serve as chairman, and District 6 Richmond County school board member Jack Padgett as vice chairman.

Tuesday’s meeting to elect the ad hoc committee officers got off to a rambling start, as members disagreed over who to elect as officers.

District 7 school board member Frank Dolan offered a substitute motion to Sen. Hardie Davis’ nominations of Mason and Padgett, seeking instead to elect Barnes as chairman and District 7 Commissioner Jerry Brigham as vice chairman.

Barnes declined the nomination, and Dolan nominated Rep. Barbara Sims instead. Dolan’s motion failed, while the motion to elect Mason and Padgett passed 7-5. The names of who voted for whom were not recorded.

Mason, known to grill city department heads during commission meetings and a vocal opponent of the city’s ongoing reorganization plan, is a good fit to head the committee, District 5 Commissioner Bill Lockett said.

“I don’t think there’s going to be a problem,” Lockett said. “You’ve got a level playing field here.”

Super District 10 Commissioner Grady Smith, who occasionally spars with Mason, said the former mayor pro tem “ran a good meeting.”

The committee includes four members from the school board, four from the commission and four from Augusta’s legislative delegation.

To help the committee redraw the lines, the group agreed to the Richmond County Board of Elections’ hire of Linda Meggers, a consultant who worked for Georgia’s reapportionment office for decades before retiring. The elections office will pay Meggers’ rate of $75 an hour, plus travel expenses.

In drawing the new maps, Davis proposed allowing up to a 5 percent deviation from the ideal size. However, the committed voted to aspire to just a 2 percent deviation. 

Meggers said she would be able to generate sample district maps using the new criteria and present them to the committee for review.

Davis' criteria also state that “efforts should be made to avoid the unnecessary pairing of incumbents.”

Padgett said his District 6 was a “swing district.” Also represented by Commissioner Joe Jackson, it became majority black over the last decade. Padgett said he saw an easy fix, however, in adding to it the approximately 1,900 residents that neighboring District 8 is now over the ideal.

A longtime Augusta politico who’d already begun “crunching the numbers” himself, Padgett said as Meggers was generating her maps, he’d be drawing his own alternatives.

Augusta's districts

Census data from 2010 show most of the Augusta Commission and Richmond County school board districts are off from their ideal population size of 25,069. The ideal size of Super Districts 9 and 10 is 100,275.

District2010 populationDeviation from ideal population
120,904-4,165
222,335-2,734
329,9094,840
428,2733,204
523,379-1,690
623,096-1,973
725,672603
826,9811,912
994,891-5,384
10105,6585,383

SOURCE: Richmond County Board of Elections

Comments (9) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Riverman1
94245
Points
Riverman1 09/21/11 - 06:41 am
0
0
The obvious question was not

The obvious question was not dealt with in the article. Under the Voting Rights Act, minority representation is to be protected. ARC is now a minority white county by a good margin. Is that FACT going to be considered? Or are we going to put issues of race behind us and just go with the population? The reference to the "swing vote" was a tacit admission racial politics rule.

It's interesting that many communities that ended up under the Voting Rights Act solved their "problem" by becoming majority black when the whites moved out. No commentary....just observations.

Riverman1
94245
Points
Riverman1 09/21/11 - 07:23 am
0
0
We know Eric Holder won't say

We know Eric Holder won't say anything about the whites being the minority to be protected in ARC and, to be honest, I doubt an Attorney General in a Republican administration would either. This would make an excellent case to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court. There's no rational way to say the law doesn't pertain to white minorities.

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 09/21/11 - 07:46 am
0
0
This "consultant" that the

This "consultant" that the committee just hired gave a powerpoint presentation a few days ago, and Susan McCord posted a link to it in an earlier article. From Linda Meggers' presentation came this statement:

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act mandates that a redistricting plan not have the purpose or the effect of diluting minority representation.”

So, how about this? At this time, whites constitute a minority of residents subject to Richmond County government. At this time, this white minority are served by six white commissioners. It stands to reason that the redistricting plan needs to assure that at least six white commissioners win commission races in the next three election cycles (2012, 2014, 2016) or the new plan will have had the effect of "diluting" minority representation.

Crazy, isn't it?

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 09/21/11 - 07:47 am
0
0
Here is the link to Linda

Here is the link to Linda Meggers' powerpoint presentation, presented as a pdf file.

Riverman1
94245
Points
Riverman1 09/21/11 - 07:50 am
0
0
We need the Chronicle to ask

We need the Chronicle to ask the hard question here.

BevBoudreaux
0
Points
BevBoudreaux 09/21/11 - 12:56 pm
0
0
why does the "white" minority

why does the "white" minority need to be protected in Augusta Richmond County? They are the minority yet still control the government including the sheriff's office.

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 09/21/11 - 01:07 pm
0
0
Why, you ask, Ms. Boudreaux?

Why, you ask, Ms. Boudreaux? Because Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 says they must be protected when district lines are re-drawn.

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 09/21/11 - 01:16 pm
0
0
I can see it now. Susan

I can see it now. Susan McCord wrote:

To help the committee redraw the lines, the group agreed to the Richmond County Board of Elections’ hire of Linda Meggers, a consultant who worked for Georgia’s reapportionment office for decades before retiring. The elections office will pay Meggers’ rate of $75 an hour, plus travel expenses. . . . Meggers said she would be able to generate sample district maps using the new criteria and present them to the committee for review.

Ms. Meggers, armed with U.S. Census data down to the individual household and her nifty computer software, will be able to draft those sample district maps in a few weeks and bill the city for a few thousand dollars.

But then those twelve committee members (eight of whom will be seeking re-election from those districts) will get their hands on the maps and just have to meddle with them. Then instead of re-drawing them themselves, they will ask Meggers to go back to the drawing board and incorporate their tweaks (some of which will be contradictory).

What would have been a modest consulting fee and take a couple of weeks will turn into a six-month back & forth project and end up pocketing Ms. Meggers a fee well into six figures.

BevBoudreaux
0
Points
BevBoudreaux 09/21/11 - 01:30 pm
0
0
But whites make up a majority

But whites make up a majority of the government. They are not the minority when it comes to holding power

Back to Top
loading...
Top headlines

Stormwater fee to fund Columbia County repairs

Columbia County is set to invest an additional $600,000 in its aging stormwater system next year, with the hope that more money and manpower will result in half as many repair orders and fewer ...
Search Augusta jobs