As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports today, a voting rights lawsuit against Gwinnett County highlights issues that some minorities see as evidence that elected officials don’t take their concerns seriously.
The lawsuit seeks to create new majority-minority county commission and school board districts. It says the current districts are drawn to minimize minority voting power. Though more than half of Gwinnett residents are black, Latino or Asian, no minority has ever been elected to the county commission or school board. As a result, the lawsuit says, elected officials pay little heed to minority opinion on some issues.
Representatives of Gwinnett County and the school district dispute that.
“I spend 99 percent of my time meeting the needs of minorities,” said school board member Louise Radloff, who represents the only board district in which minorities are a majority of the population.
Though they declined to discuss the lawsuit, county and school officials provided information on minority outreach efforts and services.
Gwinnett County cited numerous initiatives to work with groups ranging from the Korean Association of Greater Atlanta to African American Churches Transforming Societies. It also cited programs like its Gwinnett 101 Citizens Academy and Dinner and Dialogue with County Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash, as well as events like a Hispanic Heritage Month reception and a citizenship clinic.
School district spokeswoman Sloan Roach cited similar outreach efforts. Among other things, she said the district uses translators and mentoring programs to help minorities and provides student/parent handbooks and other materials in multiple languages.
Some minorities say those positive steps are offset by the disregard shown by elected officials on issues like immigration enforcement and student discipline. You can read more about the debate on those issues here.