Commissioners to legislature: No redistricting this year
by Jon Gillooly
February 12, 2014 06:00 PM | 2839 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lisa Cupid <br> (MDJStaff/Jon-Michael Sullivan)
Lisa Cupid
(MDJStaff/Jon-Michael Sullivan)
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MARIETTA — The Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution Tuesday asking the Legislature to delay any redrawing of Cobb’s commission districts until 2015 when no commissioners will be up for re-election.

Commissioners approved the resolution 4-1 with Bob Ott opposed.

Ott said he voted against the proposal brought by Commissioner JoAnn Birrell because redistricting is the job of the Legislature as required by the state Constitution.

“If they so choose to talk to us about it, that’s fine, but it’s not our place,” Ott said. “That is a legislative function that is defined in the Constitution.”

Birrell said state Sen. Judson Hill (R-east Cobb), chairman of the 21-member Cobb Legislative Delegation, plans to file a redistricting bill this year, although Hill has declined to return calls requesting an interview on the subject.

Lee said he had spoken with Hill on Monday about redistricting.

“He said he had not received any map or any legislation to consider in terms of a new map,” Lee said.

Regardless, Lee said because Birrell is up for election this year, she believes “we as a group stress and emphasize our preference that the legislators work with us to define those districts as they see fit as opposed to just arbitrarily creating them and passing new districts without our input.”

The last time commissioners and the Cobb Legislative Delegation addressed this topic

it ended up in court. In 2012, lawmakers proposed a map that divided the community of Mableton, then represented by District 4 Commissioner Woody Thompson, placing some of it in Ott’s District 2.

Thompson, who went on to be defeated by Lisa Cupid, objected to the change at the time, as did Birrell.

Thompson, Birrell and Goreham proposed their own map, although when it came to a vote, Ott and Tim Lee voted against it.

Lawmakers never bothered approving either option before the deadline, so the process went before a federal judge who redrew the map for them in 2012.

Birrell said her reason for opposing a redistricting this year is that it would confuse voters with an early primary set for May 20.

Cupid, the lone Democrat on the board, said she also opposes a new map.

“There’s a lot of pride and ownership in that (Mable House Arts Center), and for that to be taken and moved to a district that I think has a lot of resources . . . it could have a negative impact on our district,” she said.

Cupid said redistricting is all about partisan politics.

“I think on its face when it comes to redistricting it’s about preserving parties, and I think that has a lot to do with it, and I think that the unfortunate aspect of it is that local government, we have the good fortune of not having the polarity that’s in state and federal government, because at the end of the day, a pothole is not Republican or Democrat. If it needs to get fixed, it needs to get fixed,” she said.

Cupid, who has shared her opinion with lawmakers, said the proposed map would increase the number of Republican voters in Ott’s district. Ott said his district was 53 percent Republican in the 2012 election.

Like Birrell, Goreham opposes a new map this year because it would divide Mableton and confuse voters.

Goreham questioned why lawmakers were acting in secrecy rather than airing the proposal in public.

“For this to be so quiet, so hush-hush and to be so similar to what took place two years ago when Commissioner Ott wanted a designer district without any feelings or respect for communities and for the District 4 commissioner,” Goreham said.

The last time the map debate came up, Ott and Thompson had a falling out, Goreham said.

“They didn’t speak for over a month, Commissioner Ott wouldn’t speak to Commissioner Thompson,” Goreham said. “I don’t know if you can’t connect the dots or draw any parallels, look at this in a parallel sequence between two years ago and now. It’s so very similar. It appears to be designed in a way that’s going to cater to some desires from the District 2 commissioner.”

Ott, for his part, said he hasn’t seen any proposed map.

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