Abraham Kenmore Augusta Chronicle February 24, 2022

Local officials from Gwinnett, Dekalb and Athens-Clarke County gathered on Wednesday to condemn local redistricting proposals from Republicans in the state legislature. 

Mayor Kelly Girtz of Athens-Clarke County took the podium to condemn the state legislature redistricting of county commission and school board seats that overrode proposals put forward by local governments.

“Not only would two thirds of the residents of Athens-Clarke County end up in completely new districts, but my three colleagues here with me today would be completely unseated,” he said of the proposal approved by the State Legislature. “This isn’t about these three individual commissioners, it’s about the will of the voters.”

“We have retained legal counsel, we have former Attorney General Michael Bowers representing us, looking into this issue,” said Russell Edwards, District 7 Commissioner for Athens-Clarke County. “We want to be certain that the steps were followed appropriately and legally, and that’s what we’re going to find out.”

Girtz said the local redistricting process made it so many voters would be electing commissioners two years running while others had to wait up to six years, and split communities.

“The Republican argument for these maps are they’re creating more compact maps, districts in which they protect communities of interest, but in fact we’ve demonstrated a number of ways in which this isn’t the case,” he said.