Most of the growth has been in District 2, the southern side of the city, which is represented by Norma Tucker, LeGree McCamey and Willie Edmondson. The city’s other district is represented by Bobby Traylor, Jim Thornton and Nick Woodson.
A proposed new map expands District 2 in an area generally north from Barnard Avenue to Commerce Avenue and a second area generally north of a line from Brownwood Avenue to the railroad tracks.
A map of the new lines will be available on the city’s website, www.lagrange-ga.org.
City attorney Jeff Todd said the change balances the population and in particular, keeps the city’s minority population balanced, in keeping with the federal Voting Rights Act. The city’s two voting districts were created in 1997 in accordance with that act and the new changes must be approved by the U.S. Justice Department.
“With the 2000 census, there wasn’t enough growth” to make a change in the districts, Todd said. “We have to do it now whether we want to or not.”
With the growth, the districts are out of balance in population by 15 percent.
None of the council members objected to the redrawn lines at a Tuesday work session. In the proposed map, no member is “drawn out” of his district, meaning no incumbents would be forced to run against each other in the next election.
Todd said the city needs to make the changes before the next election in November, or the results could be challenged. Since the legislature isn’t in session, council can change the map by changing its charter, but it has a narrow window to get it done. The first reading of the change must be done at the next council meeting, May 24, then have a second reading of the change twice, at the two consecutive council meetings after that. The change then gets sent to the Justice Department for a 60-day review.
The new map must be in place before qualifying for municipal elections opens Aug. 30.
Jennifer Shrader can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (706) 884-7311, Ext. 236.