On January 6, the anniversary of the attempted coup in Washington D.C., new Athens County Commission District maps were proposed by local Republican state legislators that would draw 6 out of 10 Commissioners into districts with each other and result in 3 progressive Commissioners ousted from the Commission and blocked from reelection. Three ACC Commissioners, Mike Hamby, Allison Wright, and Ovita Thornton, blocked the the locally created maps and worked to allow the Republican legislators to draw these maps and further the disenfranchisement of voters in Athens-Clarke County.
If the GOP map is signed into law, the following 3 Commissioners will be drawn out of their district and into an even-numbered district so that they cannot run for election this cycle:
D5 Commissioner Tim Denson (Current chair of the Athens-Clarke County Democrats)
D7 Commissioner Russell Edwards (Past-Chair of the Athens-Clarke County Democrats)
D3 Commissioner Melissa Link
These proposed maps will affect nearly all Athenians if adopted. 2 out of every 3 residential addresses in Athens would be moved into a new Commission district. Many individuals who resided in a district that hadn’t voted for a Commissioner for 4 years will be forced to wait another 2 years before being given the privilege to vote for a Commissioner again.
The biggest damage would likely come to East Athens. The historic black neighborhood would be split right down the middle into multiple districts by these maps, diluting the East Athens voting presence. 7 of the 10 districts proposed by the Republican delegation would dilute the black population when compared to the maps that ACC drew and submitted to the state.
At the same time, Allison Wright’s new district would become 78% white and Mike Hamby’s new district would become 77% white, by far the least diverse of any existing or proposed districts.
The Republican local legislators, exclusively straight, white men, dare to say that these new maps were drawn to create more diversity on the Athens-Clarke County Commission. Of course, currently the Athens-Clarke County Commission is the most diverse it has ever been with regards to race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
This clear attack on our democratic process in Athens, Georgia cannot stand. Legal action is being prepared for if these maps move forward as they are but we need Athens residents to contact our state legislators today!
We encourage all Athenians to contact the Local State Delegation and ask them to work with the ACC Commission to fix these district maps:
Sen. Bill Cowsert: Bill.Cowsert@senate.ga.gov (404) 463-1366
Sen. Frank Ginn: Frank.Ginn@senate.ga.gov (706) 680-4466
Rep. Houston Gaines: Houston.Gaines@house.ga.gov (404) 656-0298
Rep. Marcus Wiedower: Marcus.Wiedower@house.ga.gov (404) 656-0325