Marietta resident Charles Levinson encouraged the council during its meeting last week to keep working on Ward Map Z, the approved map.
“I continue to stand by the conclusions that I had on Dec. 12,” Levinson said about his comments during the second public hearing for the map. “The reasons were threefold: the slicing and dicing of southeast Marietta, the lack of a second majority African-American ward, and the division of Harmony Terrace apartments where my wife and I live.”
Levinson handed out an alternative plan. Changes included a vacant seat in Ward 7, now represented by Philip Goldstein, and the designation of Ward 4, represented by Andy Morris, as a “majority minority” ward.
“This city is approximately one-third African-American,” Levinson said. “If proportionality is to have any guide — I’m not talking about strict quotas, but if it is to have any guide — we shouldn’t be talking about one majority African-American ward in this city. We should be talking about two.”
Ward 5, represented by City Councilman Anthony Coleman, is the one majority African-American ward.
Deane Bonner, a Marietta property owner and president of the Cobb NAACP, said Ward 1, represented by City Councilwoman Annette Lewis, also qualifies.
“There’s no way that we as a community would want to fight for one ward when there’s a possibility of three wards,” Bonner said on Dec. 12. “You have Ward 1 with 39 percent African Americans. You have Rev. Coleman’s with 41. You have Philip’s with 41. We also know you don’t have to have that 50 percent, which you all have been saying.”
Bonner said Monday that the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed the association’s calculation.
“The Justice Department has assured (us) a minority majority ward does not have to be 50 percent,” she said.
In addition, the association’s position includes Ward 2, represented by City Councilman Grif Chalfant.
“Ward 2 minority populations should not be diluted,” Bonner said about African-Americans who are among the 2,200 residents Carriage Oaks, Manning Circle and the Walton senior living communities on Sandtown Road who would transition into Ward 3, represented by City Councilman Johnny Sinclair.
Those constituents may be unwilling to change councilmen, Bonner said.
“Persons were taken out of their wards without written notice to them,” she said Monday.
Public comments by Levinson, Bonner and others had no effect on Map Z.
“There were no changes made to the map after the public comment,” city spokesman Matthew Daly said about the Dec. 12 hearing.
Assistant City Attorney Daniel White said the same applied to the comments heard Jan. 9.
“We’d not been asked to make any changes after the January meeting,” he said.
It may be too late to redraw the boundaries since City Attorney Doug Haynie sent the map directly to the U.S. Department of Justice on Dec. 21.
Although the adopted map changes the city charter, it did not have to stop at the Georgia Legislature for approval before going to Washington.
“As one of the home rule powers, there are certain portions of the charter that can be amended without submitting changes to the Legislature,” White said. “Adopting maps through reapportionment is one of the home rule powers.”
The justice department has 60 days calendar to review and respond, White said, upon which the maps will be set.
Even if the City Council wants to make changes, White said, it is unlikely before the November election, in which all City Council seats plus the mayor’s office will be up for grabs.
“They would have to go through the same procedure,” he said about posting public notices, holding two public hearings at consecutive council meetings and submitting a new map to the justice department.