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Proposed district map might change racial makeup of Augusta Commission

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Proposed Augusta voting districts based on 2010 census data indicate the city commission might return to a 5-5 split or possibly create a 6-4 black majority on the board over the next few years.

Commissioner Matt Aitken, who is up for re-election next year, says he is not concerned that the proposed lines increased District 1's black majority from 63.5 percent to 65.1 percent.  Zach Boyden-Holmes/File
Zach Boyden-Holmes/File
Commissioner Matt Aitken, who is up for re-election next year, says he is not concerned that the proposed lines increased District 1's black majority from 63.5 percent to 65.1 percent.

On the immediate horizon, that could mean bad news for District 1 Commissioner Matt Aitken. The map, drawn by consultant Linda Meggers based on black and white population clusters and the need to maintain contiguous districts, did little to increase Aitken’s chances if he runs for a second term next year.

District 1, which stretches from school board member Marion Barnes' Sand Hills residence to Doug Barnard Parkway, gained voting precincts in the Laney Walker and Highland Park neighborhoods and increased its black majority from 63.5 percent to 65.1 percent on the new map.

Aitken, targeted to lose his seat next year by some black activists, said Friday the stats and lines don't matter.

"I'm really penetrating some of these districts more than people realize," he said. "I've always been an underdog, anyway."

Then there's District 6, considered for a decade to be a "swing" district, as its population made annual gains in percentage minority population, despite being represented for two terms by Comm­issioner Joe Jackson, who is white.

While districts 2, 4 and 5 were carved away to make up population losses as many Augustans moved west or out of Richmond County, District 6's boundaries were left intact by Meggers, who added a single precinct - Precinct 805 from District 8 - to make up for population losses.

The addition kept the status quo in District 6, whose percentage black population decreased from 51.17 percent black to 51.13 percent black in Meggers' proposed map.

The majority remains too slim for some conservative politicians, who have seen the minority growth in the district over the past decade and asked Meggers to consider giving District 6 more whites from adjoining District 8, where blacks make up just 30 percent of the population.

"It puts that particular school board seat and Joe Jackson's commission seat in play," said longtime Republican activist and political observer David Barbee. The sixth is represented by school board member Jack Padgett.

"They could have given up a little more of 8," said former Super District 10 Commissioner Don Grantham, who is white. "Otherwise, we're going to become one-sided."

But finding adjoining pockets of whites in 8 to add to 6 won't be that easy, District 8 commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said. Neighborhoods off nearby Willis Foreman Road are mostly black, while District 8 school board member Jimmy Atkins lives in the nearby Goshen community.

The district’s racial makeup is one of the points likely to be raised when the proposed map is presented at three public hearings which begin Thursday. An ad hoc redistricting committee must approve the map before it is cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Aitken is up for re-election next year during the year of a presidential election, when turnout likely will be high. Atkins, who also is white, isn't up for reelection until 2014, while Jackson is term-limited.

Another point that's likely to be raised is the splitting of a precinct in fast-growing District 3 on the city's west side. Meggers' map split Precinct 310 at Jimmie Dyess Parkway and Wrightsboro Road to add new territory to District 5.

"Precinct 310 is one of the fastest growing areas in the county," Rep. Quincy Murphy appealed to redistricting committee members last week. "I'm really concerned about Precinct 310 actually being split in such a major way."

IF YOU GO

The redistricting ad hoc committee with Richmond County Board of Elections has scheduled three public hearings for citizens to view and provide input on the proposed map. The hearings are scheduled for:

  • 6 p.m. Thursday: Richmond County Board of Education auditorium, 864 Broad St.
  • 6 p.m. Oct. 17: Pine Hill Middle School auditorium, 2147 McElmurray Road, Hephzibah
  • 6 p.m. Oct. 20: Sue Reynolds Elementary School gymnasium, 3840 Wrightsboro Road
Comments (48) Add comment
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Granddaddy John
101
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Granddaddy John 10/08/11 - 03:51 pm
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Yea all the people with money
Unpublished

Yea all the people with money are moving out of richmond county,who is left to pay the bills,section 8,THE LOST CITY OF AUGUSTA,may she rest in peace.

Brad Owens
4285
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Brad Owens 10/08/11 - 03:52 pm
0
0
Looks bad for the white

Looks bad for the white Commission districts but the State House will be in play the other way.

Riverman1
82167
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Riverman1 10/08/11 - 04:12 pm
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Maybe Mt. Zion AME Church can

Maybe Mt. Zion AME Church can take over the empty TEE Center and get some use out of it when the change occurs.

nowhine
5373
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nowhine 10/08/11 - 05:08 pm
0
0
Columbia county and North

Columbia county and North Augusta should prepare for an exodus of refugees from Richmond county.

Little Lamb
45278
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Little Lamb 10/08/11 - 07:55 pm
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Maybe with a 6-4 black

Maybe with a 6-4 black majority the Augusta Commission might get enough backbone to fire Fred (What, me worry?) Russell. Thankfully, Corey Johnson is term limited in 2012, I think.

Little Lamb
45278
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Little Lamb 10/08/11 - 07:57 pm
0
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Come to think of it, if they

Come to think of it, if they change the commission district lines, don't all the incumbents get a free pass and get to run as first-timers?

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 10/08/11 - 11:21 pm
0
0
Why is there always the

Why is there always the assumption that black people vote for black people and white people vote for white people?

countyman
19716
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countyman 10/09/11 - 01:20 am
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The average person living in

The average person living in Augusta doesn't care about the race issue. Certain people in diffrent positions try to make the issue bigger than it really is. Matt Aitken is the commissioner a majority black district.

Nowhine.. Looking at the ongoing growth, I don't see any exodus coming. The Jimmie Dyess area refrenced in the article is growing extremely fast. The 25 acre shopping center is coming soon and the 10k sq. ft. Shoppes at Dyess Park should break ground by December. Due to growth along Jimmie Dyess, Belair rd and Gordon Hwy between Jimmie Dyess and Harlem.. A new middle and elementary school must be constructed in the future.

Brad Owens
4285
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Brad Owens 10/09/11 - 03:40 am
0
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Insider Info, Why is there

Insider Info,

Why is there always the assumption that black people vote for black people and white people vote for white people?

EASY, voter returns and historical data of those results.

It is not ALWAYS the case, but it is a safe assumption to make based on historical voter data.

Brad

P.S. countyman, what were the voter turn out results by race in the election with Matt and Fennoy?

Riverman1
82167
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Riverman1 10/09/11 - 06:17 am
0
0
Richmond County is a

Richmond County is a predominantly black county and it's logical it should have a majority black government and officials. Attempting to keep whites in power is what landed us under the thumb of the Justice Dept. with the Voting Rights Act.

I'm a realist and I understand race is important in government. The CSRA has white and black majority counties and we seem to get along pretty well. Once Richmond County goes through the transition to a black controlled government it will be better off....hopefully. I believe a black county government can run things as well as if not better than the current white majority.

Riverman1
82167
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Riverman1 10/09/11 - 06:54 am
0
0
I trust people not to let

I trust people not to let race or money be their focus in elections. There's more to good government. So we conservatives will be giving away turkeys to all who vote in the next election. You get two if you promise you voted for the white guy. Since you have to present ID now to get a free turkey from Deke and Al Sharpton we will just let that count for the voting ID too.

seenitB4
85183
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seenitB4 10/09/11 - 07:35 am
0
0
Well yeh....the South Augusta

Well yeh....the South Augusta folks will rise again...& so it shall be....ya shoulda thought about this when you kicked South Augusta to the curb...what goes around -comes around....always has & always will....I agree with river.....it seems logical...65% minority already.....do something about the problems/crime/cleanup jobs & bring big industry back to the "other" side of the Gordon Hy. They NEED jobs ...jmo

allhans
23523
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allhans 10/09/11 - 08:52 am
0
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The letter from DR. House

The letter from DR. House this morning on the social fabric...

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 10/09/11 - 10:56 am
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Richmond County is majority

Richmond County is majority black so the government should be majority black? What?

Perhaps we should only let black people run for office in majority black districts and white people in white districts?

How many of the real issues addressed by the commission have anything to do with race? Is the economy a race issue? Economic development? Crime? A downtown baseball stadium?

Augusta will never move forward if it continues to be stuck in the past.

JRC2024
8466
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JRC2024 10/09/11 - 11:25 am
0
0
Black, Black, Black, White,

Black, Black, Black, White, White, White. Who gaives a d---. Do what is right for all. Why not allow everybody in the county vote for all the commissioners.

bjphysics
36
Points
bjphysics 10/09/11 - 11:43 am
0
0
OK, I don’t live in Augusta

OK, I don’t live in Augusta so which districts are:

<50% black, <50% white, and 50/50 ish?

allhans
23523
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allhans 10/09/11 - 12:51 pm
0
0
I live near Aumond Rd in West

I live near Aumond Rd in West Augusta (Dist 3 Joe Bowles), and I have no idea what this might mean. If any changes to this district they will be further out it appears.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 10/09/11 - 12:33 pm
0
0
LL, I wondered about that

LL, I wondered about that too. If districts reset, wouldnt term limits have to also? Why isn't that being asked? I will call Lynn Bailey next week to ask.

countyman
19716
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countyman 10/09/11 - 01:29 pm
0
0
Riverman.. A white man won

Riverman.. A white man won two straight mayor's elections with over 60% of the vote... Once the older generations move on, the race issue will become even more non-existent.

Seenitb4.. What area is 65% black?

seenitB4
85183
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seenitB4 10/09/11 - 01:49 pm
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0
http://quickfacts.census.gov/

http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/13/13245.html

You know the answer to your question....& once the older generation moves on......does that mean die??
You blame too much on that older generation ctyman....you know the one that fought the wars to keep you safe ---most paid their own way & didn't take welfare even when they needed it...

countyman
19716
Points
countyman 10/09/11 - 02:11 pm
0
0
The black, asian, and

The black, asian, and hispanic population of RC in 2010 doesn't equal 65%.. Plus we already know the black population of Augusta is going to decrease over the next few years.. The CBD and parts of the inner city will become alot whiter similar to Atlanta. Augusta is late to the party in terms of inner city reviltalization, but it's starting to happen.. Goodbye Gilbert Manor, Underwood, and probably Hyde Park, Sunset aka Cherry Tree, Dogwood Terrace.. Not to mention the rising cost of housing coming to Harrisburg and Laney Walker because of the ongoing construction.

I don't want the older generation to die off, but we need more people under the age of 40 involved with local government..

The older generation did great things and terrible things.. The race issue is one of those terrible things.. People under the age of 40 don't let race affect them similar to people over the age of 50..

harley_52
22945
Points
harley_52 10/09/11 - 02:15 pm
0
0
***People under the age of 40

***People under the age of 40 don't let race affect them similar to people over the age of 50..***

Baloney.

seenitB4
85183
Points
seenitB4 10/09/11 - 02:22 pm
0
0
You are sooo out of touch

You are sooo out of touch with the real world...I'll tell you what the older group has done---IT KEPT THE ECONOMY going at a fast clip/growing for the last 70 years-fight worldwars w/o going under--paid the bills---more homeowners during that time---now what do we have ...almost another depression-high unemployment ---more on welfare than ever---you better wish some of the younguns of today had our morals & work ethic.....

Riverman1
82167
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Riverman1 10/09/11 - 02:37 pm
0
0
The nonwhite population of

The nonwhite population of Richmond County is 60.3 percent. The white population over the last decade has dropped. That's what the redistricting is all about. Simple.

From the Chronicle July 13th: "...the 2010 census shows Richmond County's population being 39.7 percent white..."

seenitB4
85183
Points
seenitB4 10/09/11 - 02:42 pm
0
0
countymansez.. Goodbye

countymansez..
Goodbye Gilbert Manor, Underwood, and probably Hyde Park, Sunset aka Cherry Tree, Dogwood Terrace..

I wonder if he thinks these people will disappear in thin air---just because their housing is bulldozed they don't float away into thin air------

countyman
19716
Points
countyman 10/09/11 - 02:43 pm
0
0
Harley and Seenitb4.. Are

Harley and Seenitb4.. Are their are more interracial couples over the ago of 50 or under 40??

seenitB4
85183
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seenitB4 10/09/11 - 02:47 pm
0
0
Well we could go back to

Well we could go back to Thomas Jefferson days ...StromThurmond days....

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 10/09/11 - 03:20 pm
0
0
Does this mean death to Deke

Does this mean death to Deke Field and Multiuse Facility?

Riverman1
82167
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Riverman1 10/09/11 - 03:27 pm
0
0
SeenIt....funny...Strom

SeenIt....funny...Strom Thurmond days.

seenitB4
85183
Points
seenitB4 10/09/11 - 03:39 pm
0
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Well I would say those guys

Well I would say those guys certainly "linkedup" & they are over 50....or would be if living---:)

Augusta needs to be careful with the tax $$$ because according to the Economic Cylce Research Institute we are going to see more pain in the ecomomy (in AJC today)they are saying the unemployment rate will go higher into double digits ....Firm has been right for over 15 years....doesn't really matter what color in ruling the commish ..the dollars are going to be few.

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