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City’s Redistricting Plan Bound for State Consideration

Hundreds of Powder Springs residents later this year would see their city council districts changed should state and federal officials sign off on a ward redistricting plan approved last week by city officials.

Powder Springs residents will head to the polls this November to select three city councilmen, but for some residents, the potential choices on those ballots are likely to change.

The Powder Springs City Council at its Feb. 18 meeting gave its approval to a redistricting plan for the city’s three council wards.

During the Feb. 12 State of the City event, City Manager Brad Hulsey explained that the redistricting is required to occur after each Census. The latest Census occurred in 2010. While this will be the second municipal election since that Census, it is the first to be impacted by it, as the 2011 elections featured the mayoral and two at-large council posts—all citywide races.

“As the Census Bureau finished the census, we realized that our population in Powder Springs in 2010 is 13,940 residents, and what we also have realized is the numbers are unbalanced as it relates to the number of persons residing in each ward, and therefore we are required as a city to take a look at these wards and balance them out to the best of our ability, with plus or minus a 5-percent deviation,” Hulsey said.

Based on the city’s 2010 population, the “ideal” ward, Hulsey said, would have 4,647 residents. All three wards currently have populations outside of the 5-percent swing from that number.

Under the current ward map, Ward 1 has 5,853 residents, a deviation of nearly 26 percent. Ward 2 has 3,957, a deviation of minus-15 percent, while Ward 3 has 4,130 residents, a deviation of about minus-11 percent.

Under the proposed ward maps, Ward 1 would have 4,733 residents, Ward 2 would have 4,705, and 4,502 residents would be in Ward 3.  Hulsey said the changes in the map get all three wards within the plus-or-minus 5-percent maximum deviation without significantly changing the balance of the black and minority populations within the districts—one of the requirements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965’s concept of “one man, one vote.”

“We did not make any significant change in the minority population of any of the wards,” Hulsey said. “In fact, we increased the minority population within Ward 3. Ward 2 decreased about 1.5 percent in minority population, and it is our most heavily populated minority ward.”

PDF copies of the proposed maps are attached to this article.

As the proposed ward maps now have city council approval, the next step in the process will see Cobb County’s legislators introduce the plan into the Georgia General Assembly as local legislation. Once approved by state officials, the city will forward it onto the U.S. Department of Justice for preclearance under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“What we hope to do is to have this map approved and the wards changed to give the proper balance before we have qualifying for [the council positions] in August,” Hulsey said. “We feel that we’ve been able to accomplish this in a time frame that will allow us more than enough time to accomplish [that].”

If the maps earn DOJ approval, they would be effective for the November elections. Residents on Nov. 5 will head to the polls to select council members for Wards 1, 2 and 3, which are currently being represented by Cheryl Sarvis, Al Thurman and Nancy Hudson, respectively.

Qualifying for the November election has yet to be scheduled, but the qualifying fee for the council seats has been set at $360.

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