The Union Recorder

January 24, 2013

City working toward redistricting

From staff reports
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Every 10 years federal law requires voting districts to be redrawn, reflecting updated population shifts. Baldwin County Commission, school board and state congressional redistricting took place last year.

The City of Milledgeville started its process last Wednesday, opening a 30-day window to come up with sufficiently altered district blocks. 

Middle Georgia Regional Commission (MGRC) representative Nick Kouloungis is using population block software to assist the city.

Kouloungis said the regional commission helped many local governments including Macon, Perry and Gray over the last two years.

Milledgeville traditionally maintains three primarily minority districts. 

City attorney Jimmy Jordan said City Council wants to keep this precedent, which affects Districts 2, 3 and 5.

The city also will use the 2010 census numbers, minus the correctional population, to redistrict.

The Department of Justice must approve any redistricted map proposal using the one person, one vote rule and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as a rubric.

The MGRC goal for Milledgeville is a collective district deviation range of 10 percent. Currently, the range is more than 70 percent.

Except District 6, the other five districts, minus institutionalized and correctional populations, are all at least 25 percent above or below the optimal target population of 2,748 per block according to the MGRC.

Councilman Phillip Joiner's District 4 is near 40 percent over the ideal deviation largely because of the college population housed there in addition to being 80 percent white.

Council did receive a standard census correction letter that would add around 667 to the total population, according to Barry Jarrett, city manager.

Because these corrected figures come every year and typically hold no information specific to particular census blocks, Jordan said the figure wouldn't affect the redistrict conversation considering the recent county and board of education changes used the original 2010 census as a baseline.

Council agreed to meet the MGRC rep in small groups to develop a workable map for consideration within the 30-day timeframe. Jarrett said Council could meet as early as next week if everyone has worked with Kouloungis.

Council will bring one map to a public hearing and vote for final passage of the new ordinance in a second meeting.

Once submitted, the Justice Department has 60 days to comment and review the districts. Jordan said having any changes settled long before the next election is important.

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