District; Total population; Black population percentage
1; 19,980; 18.6
2; 20,088; 42.78
3; 20,208; 57.12
4; 19,794; 56.52
5; 19,888; 29.35
Update, Jan. 3: The Newton County Board of Education unanimously approved a county redistricting map Monday at a special called meeting.
The map was previously unanimously approved by the Newton County Board of Commissioners at its December meeting.
Original story, Dec. 21: The Newton County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a revised county redistricting map Tuesday, which is expected to be in place for the 2012 county elections.
District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson had been the lone hold out, but he agreed to the new map following a third trip to the state redistricting office Monday. The map makes only slight changes to a prior proposal.
The map will be voted on by the Newton County Board of Education at a special called meeting Jan. 2. Only the boards of education and commissioners will be affected by the changes.
Nine of 10 school board and commission members had supported a previous map, but Henderson was opposed because his District 4, which had to add nearly 7,000 residents, only expanded in one direction, west.
In addition, Henderson and the Newton County Minister's Union, an organization of black pastors, had said it did not want the Double Gate subdivision, off Brown Bridge Road, added into District 4 because the approximately 300-person subdivision is mainly white. District 4 is 57.52 percent black currently, and black voting power is to be protected whenever possible under the Voting Rights Act.
Under the approved map, Double Gate will remain in District 3, while District 4 will retain a portion of its northwestern most section that it was set to give up.
Henderson said Tuesday that nobody got everything they wanted, but he supported the compromise. District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz agreed.
"For all of us, what was most important was to get a map where the numbers work. The reality is the migration took place in the western part of the county, and we had to keep racial balances pretty much the same, preserving the racial mix (black majority) in districts 3 and 4," Schulz said Tuesday.
Schulz said elected officials worked for more than two and a half hours, creating three additional proposed maps Monday before settling on the final version.
"For me personally, I want to do what's right for the constituents and for all of Newton County because this map will be in existence for the next 10 years," Schulz said.
The only other change that occurred in this new map was a swap of small areas of the county between districts 1 and 2. Schulz said the swap was made to increase the black population in District 2, which is not a majority black district but is considered an "influence district" because it has a 40 percent black population.
Other elected officials present at Monday's state meeting were Commissioner Tim Fleming and school board members Shakila Henderson-Baker, Eddie Johnson, Abigail Morgan-Coggin and Almond Turner, as well as county attorneys Jenny Carter, Tommy Craig and Andrea Gray.
The Georgia General Assembly must now pass legislation approving the map, which will then have to be precleared by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, which takes 60 days. County and school officials hope to get the Justice Department's approve before the 2012 election qualifying period, which begins May 23.