State override of redistricting maps prompts Gwinnett legislator’s resolution

State Sen. Sheikh Rahman

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State Sen. Sheikh Rahman

State Sen. Sheikh Rahman, D-Lawrenceville, plans to introduce a resolution this week that would prevent local bills — such as redistricting maps for county commissions and school boards — from being sent to general committees in the Legislature without approval from a majority of the local legislative delegation.

Rahman announced the resolution during a Tuesday news conference at the Capitol, during which Democratic legislators and commissioners from across Georgia blasted Republicans for redrawing local maps over the objections of lawmakers representing Democratic-leaning areas.

ExploreNew Gwinnett County commission and school board maps signed into law

As required by federal law, county commission maps and school board maps are being redrawn based on the latest census results. The maps will remain in effect until 2030.

The Legislature normally defers to local delegations in approving local maps, but this year Republicans redrew the maps of two suburban Atlanta county commissions that recently flipped to Democratic control — Gwinnett and Cobb — as well as Augusta-Richmond and Chatham County, which includes Savannah.

“People in our counties send us here to do a job, which is to carry out their will, protect their interests,” said Rahman, who chairs the Gwinnett delegation in the state Senate. “This is exactly what we want the ability to do.”

Gov. Brian Kemp last week signed the new Gwinnett commission districts map.

Gwinnett, the second-largest county in Georgia by population, is the most diverse county in the Southeast. In the past four years, its commission has flipped from totally Republican to totally Democratic. Republican legislators redrew the map that the Democratic majority of the Gwinnett delegation introduced, creating a Republican-leaning district.

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District 4 Commissioner Marlene Fosque, the first Black person elected to the commission in Gwinnett’s 200-year history, is running for re-election in the new conservative district.

“I am Black history,” Fosque said Tuesday at the news conference. “Diversity is our strength.”

Commissioners are elected to the Gwinnett board on staggered terms, with even district numbers on the ballot in midterm years and odd numbers, and the chair, on the presidential ballot. The new Gwinnett map shifts more than 130,000 voters from districts on the ballot this year to those on the ballot in 2024, meaning they will go six years without the ability to vote for a commissioner, Democrats said.

Fosque said she has proven herself in the last four years. She said she was involved in developing the Exchange at Gwinnett shopping center and the county’s eviction prevention program, and has met with federal and state legislators to bring money to Gwinnett.

“I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work, but I can count on the people of Gwinnett County to make the right choice,” she said.