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Redistricting pitched with little fanfare

Photo by Carly Farrell

Photo by Carly Farrell

Click here to view the proposed map

ALBANY, Ga. -- Dougherty County commissioners moved closer to adopting a map of redrawn political districts Wednesday after hearing a presentation from the architect of the maps and the head of a joint county-school board committee that is recommending them.

James Bush, chairman of the Dougherty County School Board and chair of the joint redistricting committee, bragged on the way the School Board and the county had worked together on the project and said that, in his opinion, the map the group had recommended fell within the confines of the law and was fair to the residents of Dougherty County.

"We worked very closely together. We've held public hearings and, at the end of the day, a motion was made and we all agreed that this map is one that will be good for the community," Bush told the commissioners.

Linda Meggers, the former head of the Georgia General Assembly's redistricting arm and widely considered an expert in redistricting political subdivisions, told commissioners that the map she had drawn helped to bring the districts back in line with federal guidelines.

In drawing the map, Meggers said that she kept the tenet of "One Man, One Vote," in mind and worked to make sure that the map would comply with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which prevents districts from being drawn that would unfairly dilute black voting strength.

The map still is not without its detractors.

William Wright, the former head of the Dougherty NAACP, has repeatedly aired criticism of the map during the public hearings and the regular meetings when the topic is discussed.

Wednesday, Wright presented the County Commission with a letter again expressing his concern that the map does little to make the districts fair to black voters.

"Consequently, the lingering effects of discrimination and disenfranchisement of Black (sic) citizens continue under a shroud of suspicion. Even so, over the course of the past fourty-six (46) years in the City of Albany not much has changed," he wrote. "The map adopted by the committee is in need of serious improvement. The entire process has been to (sic) hurried and rush (sic) even to the point that the commissioners do not have a fair understanding of what the process should be, and still would choose to ram a plan down our back without reservation."

The public still has an opportunity to review the proposed map and make comments, suggestions and criticisms.

The maps are currently being taken to public libraries across the county for residents to review and will also be placed on the websites of the Dougherty County School System and the Dougherty County Commission.

The public has until Aug. 2 to review the maps and voice their opinions before the County Commission will take a vote.

The public can comment on the proposed map by going to this URL: http://bit.ly/ncYsC0