AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – An Augusta-Richmond County committee is working to redraw districts. The Ad Hoc Redistricting Committee made up of commissioners and school board members met Wednesday.
“Maybe not on the same street but across the street, you got different representation so I think we could clear that up,” said Commissioner Francine Scott.
Scott was elected to a committee seat Tuesday. Commissioner Jordan Johnson stepped down from the panel.
Scott said, “I did not know that Commissioner Johnson was going to resign and when my name went into motion to be considered I considered it an honor.”
District three Commissioner Catherine McKnight has been advocating to serve on the committee since spring. For her, it was a surprise not being voted on to it.
She said, “District three is the one that’s going to be affected and has the most people. I’d like to serve on it.”
“District three will be the difference maker I think with the drawing of this map,” said Richmond County Board of Elections Director Lynn Bailey.
District three has had more than 20% of growth in the last 10 years. Currently, it’s about 6,000 people over the recommended district size.
Bailey said, “Other districts changed too. Some lost population some gained population, but it was more two or three percent.”
The committee is examining a draft of the redistricting map. The map was made by a state government office. Several neighborhoods in district 3 are split.
“I don’t want to split neighborhoods up and I’m not real happy about it because they’re splitting up Forrest Hills neighborhood and cutting half of it, cutting over a little bit, sending over to two. I just don’t think that’s right,” said McKnight.
Commissioner Sean Frantom is serving as the chairman of the redistricting committee. He said, “We have a lot more split neighborhoods in this draft plan. We’ll do our best to put communities together where we can but it is inventible that communities are going to be split for sure.”
“You’ll have to take people out of district three and move them into adjoining areas and because the other areas weren’t completely out of whack. They were pretty close to being within the ideal population range. When you put people into those districts, they’re going to be overpopulated so you take some out of those and keep shifting down and around the map until you get some balanced lines,” said Bailey.
The redistricting committee will meet again on October 13. Wednesday, they decided not to hire a consultant.
Soon public input meetings on how to draw district lines will begin. It’s planned to hold them at Richmond County schools. The committee hopes to have everything done by the second week of December.