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Redistricting hearing scheduled

ALBANY -- City officials here will offer the public another opportunity to provide input on the redistricting process today as they bring possible district maps to Albany State University.

With the completion of the 2010 census, city officials are undertaking the decennial process in a very deliberate way and likely won't fully debate, discuss or even redraw the districts until early 2012.

The hearing is set for 10 a.m. at ASU's Orin Hall, city officials say.

"There's a strong likelihood that the commission could look different next year, given all of the contested races, and the commission made a very calculated decision to wait until the new commission is sworn in to discuss the issue so any new commissioners would have a say in the process," Assistant City Manager Wes Smith told audience members at the city's previous public hearing on redistricting last month.

"In the meantime, the commission wants as much public input and feedback as possible."

To that end, the city has commissioned Linda Meggers -- the former head of redistricting for the Georgia General Assembly -- to prepare a number of possible maps for consideration with the caveat that they are merely a series of options at this point in the process.

The districts likely to be most affected are Wards 2,3 and 5, thanks to dramatic population shifts.

Since Ward 5 -- the district that contains much of Northwest Albany -- has grown significantly, its boundaries will have to constrict in order to meet federal guidelines. Ward 2 is the flip side of the equation, having the smallest population of all of the six districts.