This week, local issues took center stage at the State Capitol as multiple counties face fallout from the state’s changing political affiliations. Legislators from Gwinnett, Cobb, and Athens are locked in disagreements over local redistricting.
Over the past two election cycles, Gwinnett County has found itself at the center of national attention. During the state’s political shifting. Gwinnet has served as a barometer for both state parties. As Democrats and Republicans battle for control of the state, Gwinnett’s suburban neighborhoods hold the key to Democrats first possible pathway to the governor’s office since Sonny Perdue’s election.
Recently, Democrats have grabbed the majority of seats on the Gwinnett County Commission and the Gwinnett State Legislative Delegation. On January 10th, Gwinnett Democrats introduced a redistricting plan approved by the county commission to solidify their control and leave the existing districts largely unchanged.
However, Gwinnett Republicans introduced their own proposal, which created one conservative district in the north of the county. Much to the professed outrage of their Democratic colleagues, House Republicans have now adopted this map, bypassing the traditional need for local delegation support, and sent the bill to the Senate for its approval. Gwinnett Democrats say this map is gerrymandered and represents the worst of party politics. Republicans claim it does the best job of representing unique communities of interest.
The Cobb delegation is dealing with a similar dispute. This week Cobb Republicans dropped two new maps for the Cobb Board of Commissioners and Board of Education. Republican’s maps would draw District 2 Commissioner Jerica Richardson out of her seat. Rep. Erick Allen (D-Smyrna), Chair of the Cobb Delegation, called Republicans actions “shameful.”
The disagreement came to a head on Thursday when Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) was invited to speak on the maps, by the media, at Democrats press conference on the subject. Many Democratic state legislators were left confused and scattered from the podium. After a few minutes, Rep. Allen awkwardly took back the mic, creating a viral moment among Georgia politicos.
Ultimately, Republicans hold majorities in both chambers and can pass whatever legislation they prefer – at least as long as they are in control.
Athens, Georgia’s tiny blue dot in a sea of Red, has its own disagreements on redistricting. Unlike in Gwinnett and Cobb, Republicans still hold most the legislative seats from Athens-Clarke County. However, the map submitted by their local delegation would draw three county commissioners out their districts, all of whom are up for reelection in 2022. Rep. Spencer Frye (D-Athens) has pushed his own “compromise map,” but it is unlikely to pass after the Republicans’ map passed through the House and was sent to the Senate.
2022 Supplemental budget, possible new Cobb cities, education, and guns.