Columbia County District 2 candidate might not live in new district

Updated maps would change Cline's district

Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012 12:21 PM
Last updated Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012 2:44 AM
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Damon Cline’s announcement Monday that he intends to seek the Columbia County District 2 Commission seat could prove to be premature.

Cline’s house soon might be assigned to a different district.

New local commission and school board districts, awaiting approval by the state Legislature and the U.S. Justice Department, would place Cline’s Petersburg Station home inside District 1. That seat, represented by Ron Thigpen, won’t be up for election until 2014.

All voting maps are redrawn every 10 years to reflect the latest census numbers. Columbia County’s district maps received local approval last fall.

Commissioners’ approval of a controversial “affordable housing” resolution used as part of a project called Magnolia Trace on Old Ferry Road in Martinez prompted Cline to seek election to the commission.

“Columbia County needs a public watchdog,” Cline said in a news release announcing his campaign. “The actions of some county leaders indicate they have become out of touch with the wants and needs of the everyday people they are supposed to serve.”

District 2 Commissioner Trey Allen said he has known “for two months” that the area surrounding Magnolia Trace might not remain in the district. He said he continued to work with constituents on the issue because it currently is in his district.

Allen and two other commissioners approved a June 2010 resolution favoring “affordable housing,” and that res­olution was used by the private developer in an application seeking tax credits for the project from the state Department of Community Affairs.

The 50-unit rental development will be available to residents who meet income requirements.

After having the Board of Elections office verify Cline’s home isn’t in District 2 under the new maps, Allen said he asked County Administrator Scott Johnson to notify Cline that his home will be in District 1.

“I could have just let him go and scare off any other challengers,” Allen said.

Instead, after having the Board of Elections office verify Cline’s home isn’t in District 2 under the new maps, Allen said he asked County Administrator Scott Johnson to notify Cline that his home will be in District 1.

Whether it be in District 2 this year, or District 1 in two years, Cline said he still intends to run for a commission seat.

“This isn’t about district lines,” he said Wednesday. “This is about putting a watchdog in county leadership.”

Packets typically given to those seeking elected office won’t be available for the redrawn districts until after Justice Department approval, county Board of Elections Director Deborah Marshall said Wednesday.

The county’s 85,000 registered voters then will receive new voter registration cards with updated voting district information.

Current voting precincts are being used for the March 6 presidential preference primary, but the elections office is working on setting up precincts for the July 31 party primaries based on the assumption that the new districts will be approved long before then, Marshall said.

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David Parker
David Parker 02/01/12 - 04:50 pm
So just to keep things in

So just to keep things in perspective.

1 - the resolution to approve occurs b/c the commish of D2 is acting in the best interest of the folks in D2.

2 - shortly thereafter, D2 folks are now D1 folks with a new commish who has plausible deniability regarding the vote to resolve to approve.

3 - D2 commish will have new folks to act on their behalf. (Woe be unto them I might add)

If i have all this correct, the folks in Petersburg Station get a new commish and THAT, I would argue, is better than getting nothing for all their trouble.

Still begs the question of how restructuring the district fell exactly at the time when the representative was at their most unpopular. Lest I say the timing may have been planned?

my.voice 02/01/12 - 06:17 pm
Maybe he can move into

Maybe he can move into Magnolia Trace.

moi 02/01/12 - 11:04 pm
The redistricting for the

The redistricting for the various commissioner districts was planned way before anyone had every heard of Magnolia Trace. Trey Allen tries hard to do a good job for all of Columbia County, not only his constituents. Your comments are unfair to him.

Riverman1 02/01/12 - 11:19 pm
Actually, it wasn't planned

Actually, it wasn't planned before the Magnolia Trace political contributions were being passed out like a dog owner giving bits of meat to a pet walking on its hind legs. Trey Allen, also, could have gone directly to Cline, but he went to the Board of Elections and asked them where Cline lived. We should concentrate our efforts on removing anyone connected with the status quo. Dean is gone, Trey Allen should be next.

David Parker
David Parker 02/02/12 - 12:55 am
@ moi. My comments are only

@ moi. My comments are only stating what transpired. The folks in and around D2 (myself included) feel that they were not represented accurately with regard to the Trace dev. The Commish declared they were acting in the constituents' best interest. If there is evidence that folks like me are in the minority, then I respect the system that allows someone to misrepresent me and i deal with it b/c hey, life isn't fair. If the opposite is true and the majority of folks disapprove, then laying out the facts is not unfair to Mr Allen. It's still VERY unfair to me and the rest of D2 who feel slighted, but to Mr. Allen, NO.

Unfortunately there will be no voice in voting b/c voila "restructuring", how convenient. I never said the district lines adjustment was implemented recently or for any malice purpose. I did say that The Trace dev happened coincidently right at a time that afforded the commish a way to avoid negative backlash ala district realignment.

In the end, I don't see a reason for you to sweat it. Mr Allen will be fine. The Petersburgers will just have to deal with it for as long as they live in their houses.

Just doesn't feel right in my gut and that's what i go by.

Just My Opinion
Just My Opinion 02/02/12 - 05:51 am
First off, I don't have a dog

First off, I don't have a dog in this fight, but I would like to comment on Trey Allen's remark..."I could have just let him go and scare off any other challengers,”. Um, yeah, seems to me the most prudent thing for you to have done here was to go ahead and quiet Damon Cline up BEFORE he has a chance to say damaging things about you. I guess, as a citizen, he can still say pretty much whatever he wants, but now he's not your political opponent, so his words won't hang on you as long as they would if he were your opposition. I think Allen's political buddies will take care of him. And I think this unfortunate situation will make him a better commissioner in the future. Usually we learn by our mistakes, but in this case, I think he'll learn by the situation that unfolded.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 02/02/12 - 09:42 am
The Columbia County

The Columbia County Commission could solve this mini-dilemma by passing Little Lamb's resolution at the next commission meeting:

WHEREAS commission district lines are to be re-drawn, and WHEREAS the new district lines are uncertain and have not been approved, and WHEREAS candidates have expressed interest in offering for office, and WHEREAS the Commission believes in fairness, now THEREFORE let it be RESOLVED that for the Commission election of 2012, requirements that commissioners reside in the district they represent are hereby waived.

Voilá! Problem solved.

David Parker
David Parker 02/02/12 - 10:47 am
amen . The fairness issue

amen . The fairness issue might not hold that much weight however. Just going by how the system is setup. You'd think that after 200 plus years of practicing government, we'd have set things up so that a group of elected people are accountable, rather than have them determine their own fate.

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