0

Redistricting moving along smoothly

Every 10 years, political representation districts on state and local levels have to be redrawn to keep them in line with the one-person, one-vote doctrine.

And frequently those lines have been drawn in nearly knock-down, drag-out fashion as parties and factions that stand to gain -- and lose -- depending on where the boundaries fall have marshaled their forces to push their respective ideas of what "ideal" representative districts should look like.

In a month, Georgia legislators will reconvene at the state Capitol to decide where the lines will go for state House and Senate districts and U.S. House districts. There's little doubt that our region will lose political clout when that process is over, given that Georgia's population gains center on metro Atlanta.

But the lawmakers will also be asked to approve local government districts, drawn by the boards that will use them to determine where their membership will come from for the next decade.

Those locally drawn lines have led to some pretty contentious arguments over the years, but if you haven't been paying attention, you might not have noticed that the redistricting work was going on this summer.

It's been that quiet.

That's not to say the work has been hidden away. No, the group redrawing the political lines in Dougherty County has been open with everything. Those county districts are especially important because they determine the home base of not only six members of the County Commission, but also six members of the Board of Education.

From all appearances, the committee of three School Board members -- James Bush, David Maschke and Velvet Riggins -- and three county commissioners -- Gloria Gaines, Jack Stone and Ewell Lyle -- has done a fine job of coming up with and agreeing to a well-balanced proposal. The smartest move that local officials made was hiring the state's foremost expert, Linda Meggers, who used to head up the state's redistricting office, to facilitate the plan.

Copies of the maps are in Dougherty libraries and members of the public can make comments until Aug. 2, when the County Commission is expected to decide whether to adopt the map.

Bush, who chairs the joint committee, summed up the committee's efforts nicely in his presentation Wednesday to the County Commission. "We worked very closely together," he said. "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."

An open process with no personal agendas and positive community-oriented results ... if only government could always work like that.