The public will get its first chance to comment on two proposed county redistricting maps at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Historic Courthouse.
The maps were created by the state’s redistricting office based on demographic information as well as input from the Newton County boards of commissioners and education.
County Attorney Jenny Carter said there was not unanimous support for either map from elected officials; however, in order to get a map change approved in time for 2012 elections, public hearings need to be held in December.
In order for Newton County’s district map to officially change, the Georgia General Assembly must pass legislation and the map must then be precleared by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, which takes 60 days. The county is hoping to be able to introduce the local legislation to the General Assembly by January, when the 2012 session starts. The map would then be on schedule to be approved before the 2012 election qualifying period, which begins May 23.
Because Newton County’s 2010 Census county was 99,958, each of the county’s five districts should have around 20,000 residents. Currently, District 3 had 26,791 residents, while District 4 has only 13,372. These two districts will have to find a way to exchange nearly 7,000 residents, while the remaining districts would experience small shifts.
The two proposed maps both expand District 4 to the west, adding much of the chunk of the county contained between Brown Bridge Road and Ga. Highway 81, bordered by McGiboney and Salem Roads on the west side. A portion of the county southeast of Kirkland and Jack Neely roads would also be added.
Where the maps differ is in how much they expand District 4 to the northwest. Proposal 1 would extend District 4 north to Edwards Road, being bordered by Mount Zion Road to the west and roughly the western most part of Oxford to the east.
Proposal 2 would actually reduce the northwest portion of District 4, but in exchange would retain more of its southernmost portion, which is lost in Proposal 1.
Both elected officials and residents will have the opportunity to comment at Tuesday’s public hearing.
Currently, District 4 is 58.82 percent black, District 3 is 56.93 percent black and District 2 is 44.73 percent black.
The exact percentages don't have to be kept, but those districts should be kept as majority black districts - greater than 50 percent - if at all possible, County Attorney Tommy Craig said previously. He said using percentage of voting age residents is more accurate than using general population numbers.
Under Proposal 1, District 4 would be 56.88 percent black, District 3 would become 59.29 percent black and District 2 would be 43.99 percent black.
Under Proposal 2, District 4 would be 57.69 percent black, District 3 would be 59.17 percent black and District 2 would be 43.99 percent black.