College of Coastal Georgia will host a town hall meeting July 26 to discuss the upcoming redrawing of voting district lines.
The meeting from 5 to 7 p.m. at the college’s conference center is one of a number of town halls being held across the state by the Senate Reapportionment and Redistricting and Congressional Reapportionment committees.
The agenda includes an explanation of reapportionment and redistricting and public testimony.
District boundaries are redrawn to reflect changes in the population once every 10 years after the U.S. Census data is released.
It is a virtual certainty that nearly every district in the state will have new boundaries based on the past 50 years in the state, said state Rep. Steven Sainz, R-Woodbine, whose District 180 stretches from downtown St. Marys to Waycross.
A decade ago, District 180 encompassed all of Camden County and part of Glynn County. The new lines, drawn by the Republican Party, put former Republican state Reps. Jason Spencer and Mark Hatfield in the same district. Spencer won that election and served several more terms.
Sainz said he is uncertain how the new district lines will be drawn but with much of the state’s population growth in the metropolitan Atlanta area, rural districts could get geographically larger, while urban ones get smaller.
“It will be interesting to see,” he said. “I would expect there are no district lines that won’t change.”
Sainz said he plans to attend the meeting at the college and is encouraging the public to show up to learn more and voice their opinions.
“I expect to take a fully active role,” he said. “Folks should come and give their thoughts. It matters a lot to how the legislature works.”
State Sen. Sheila McNeill, R-Brunswick, said there is not enough information available yet to predict how District 3 boundaries could change.
“I feel there will be changes to assure that all citizens of Georgia will have the appropriate representation they need,” she said. “I am happy with the districts that I have at this point and feel my staff and I are equipped to handle the constituents of District 3.”
State Rep. Buddy DeLoach, R-167, a member of Glynn County’s state delegation, serves on the House committee charged with drawing new lines. His district includes Long, McIntosh and Glynn counties.
It may not be easy to redraw the lines in Glynn County, where the population on St. Simons Island has grown large enough to be divided to meet the state guidelines to have districts of approximately the same population.
Chris Channell, supervisor of the Glynn County Board of Elections and Registration, said he plans to present five different maps with different suggestions for boundary lines after he receives U.S. Census data needed to complete the work.
County commissioners will ultimately choose a map with new boundaries that will be sent to the state for approval.
One challenge in drawing new lines in the school board and county commission districts, which have the same boundaries. If lines are redrawn, the challenge is to do them in a way that won’t put two incumbents in the same district.
“I don’t see a problem with county commission districts,” Channell said. “If school board and county commission incumbents live far apart (in the same district), it could be a problem.”