By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Rep. Dickerson against redistricting maps
Could the new District 113 elect a Newton resident in the future?
Placeholder Image

After the 2012 election, Newton County is expected to have more voices at the state than ever before.

Newly-drawn house District 113 is the clearest representation of the shift, as it's almost entirely contained within Newton's western half, but incumbent Rep. Pam Dickerson (D-Conyers) said the district is a double-edged sword for voters.

While it creates a Newton-centric district, Dickerson believes her district and many others across the state "discriminate against the ability of Georgians to build multi-racial coalitions and reduce the voting strength of communities.

"The maps seek to eliminate voter choices through construction of hyper-partisan maps that gerrymander districts and unnecessarily pair current members," Dickerson said in a Thursday email. "The new house District 113 polarizes our communities that have been successfully integrated and have shared common interest."

Democrats marginalized?
Democrats across the state have argued that the maps make Democratic districts more Democratic and Republican districts more Republican. While at first that seems equal to both sides, Republicans have a clear majority in both the house and senate and could easily maintain that control in future elections based on voting patterns.

Democrats also worry about the GOP getting a super majority in both houses, which would allow the party to pass bills without a single Democrat's vote.

For example, District 113 is expected to lean heavily Democratic, but "packing" the majority of the county's minority and Democratic voters into one district makes it very difficult for Democrats to compete in any surrounding districts.

Dickerson's current District 95, which contains portions of Gwinnett, Rockdale and Newton, is also heavily Democratic; she won the 2010 election with nearly 60 percent of the vote.

Similarly, house District 110 was 66 percent Republican, but the portion in Newton - the county's southwestern corner - actually leaned Democratic in 2010.
With the redistricting, it appears that many of Democratic voters from District 110 will be moved into District 113, which would make that district heavily Democratic and the surrounding districts more heavily Republican.

The house map actually creates eight additional majority black districts, but it sets up 10 face-offs in which incumbents must run against fellow incumbents from the same party, according to the Associated Press. Six of the face-offs are between Democrats.

Lawsuit in the works
The house and senate have approved the maps redrawing state legislative offices and federal congressional offices. The maps must still be approved by the U.S. Dept. of Justice because of Georgia's history of discrimination toward black voters.

Even if the justice department approves the maps, Democrats are expected to challenge the maps in court, according to the Associated Press. Democrats contend that the maps rip apart their party's successful efforts to forge multi-racial coalitions.

During the last redistricting, it was the GOP who cried foul over Democratic maps they claimed were drawn to save their party's incumbents and make Georgia even more blue. The maps were struck down by the federal courts and the state's lines were redrawn in 2006.

More Newton reps?
Despite having four state representatives and two senators under the proposed maps, only one of those legislators is currently from Newton County - Doug Holt (R-Social Circle) of District 112.

District 113 would seem to be another prime opportunity for a Newton-based rep, because the only section of the district not in Newton is the portion of Rockdale where Dickerson resides.

However, in the 2010 Democratic primary, local candidate Andre Cooper finished last in the voting in Newton County - with 29 percent of the vote - behind Conyers' residents Dickerson and incumbent Toney Collins.

Dickerson said it's too early to know how the maps will play out, but she's dedicated to representing all constituents regardless of location.

"I am representing constituents, current, new or wherever they may be located to make sure that they have the best representation, based on issues that affect their quality of life. I have a proven record of interacting with my constituents, wherever they may live," Dickerson said in a Friday email.