Augusta redistricting committee seeks lower minority percentages

With a second draft map in hand, one that reunites the Sand Ridge neighborhood into a single district and adjusts districts 3, 4 and 5, the ad hoc committee charged with redrawing Augusta Commission and Richmond County school board district lines sent consultant Linda Meggers off Thursday to again revise the lines.

The map presented at a committee working session Thursday meets the demand of Sand Ridge neighborhood activist Sammie Sias, who has said his neighborhood has been split for a decade.

The second draft also returns a swath west of Barton Chapel Road to its original home in District 3, while adding precincts from districts 3 and 4 located south of Gordon Highway and west of Barton Chapel Road into District 5.

Like Meggers’ first draft, Plan 2 works from existing districts and includes four districts in which the percentage of the population who is black or multiracial including black is greater than 70 percent.

Sen. Hardie Davis, one of four Augusta legislators serving on the 12-member committee, said he’d like to see that change.

“Why are we maintaining districts that are 74 percent black or white?” Davis said. “None of these districts need to be 74 percent anything.”

Davis said the sharp delineations will prevent “multiracial coalitions,” but fellow committee members from the Augusta Commission disagreed.

To start over now, Augusta Commissioner Bill Lockett said, “might be good for 2022,” the next time district lines are redrawn based on census findings.

“It appears to me that the delegation is putting the plan in place,” not the locally serving members of the commission and school board, Lockett said.

Rep. Quincy Murphy said the legislative delegation “represents the same constituents that you do,” asking that the four commission and four school board committee members “be patient.”

After the 2 ½-hour meeting, Commissioner Jerry Brigham and school board member Jack Padgett said the effect of decreasing the minority percentage to between 50 percent and 65 percent, as Davis wants, likely will increase the overall number of districts with minority representation.

While they’ve taken public comment during three public hearings and online at augustaga.gov, the body agreed Thursday for Meggers to attempt a third map plan that keeps districts less than 65 percent black and incorporates whatever concerns committee members e-mail to Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey during the next few days.

The group will meet again at 4 p.m. Thursday in the Richmond County Board of Education auditorium, 864 Broad St., to review the new proposal.

Redistricting Committee's proposed second draft map

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