Bill would give Gwinnett board more commissioners — and diversity?

A piece of legislation filed this week would add more seats to Gwinnett County’s Board of Commissioners — and potentially pave the way for more diversity on a body that’s never had a non-white member.

The bill filed Thursday by State Rep. Pedro Marin, a Democrat from Duluth, would add create two new positions on Gwinnett’s highest governing body, reworking the four existing districts to make room. Add in the chairman, who’s elected at large, and the board would ultimately go from five members to seven.

“It’s not that I believe in big government,” Marin said. “But I believe in good representation. Better representation.”

And in Marin's mind — and those of several of his statehouse counterparts — the road to such representation is two-fold. Marin said only having four districts in a county of more than 900,000 residents has left commissioners to serve huge swaths of voters. His constituents also feel like the commission "doesn't really represent a minority-majority county."

In a still-diversifying county that voted for Hillary Clinton in November’s presidential election, the re-worked districts likely would give minority candidates a better shot at breaking the board’s color barrier.

Expanding Gwinnett's Board of Commissioners has been proposed before. But the current make-up of the county — and the controversy that has arisen from current Commissioner Tommy Hunter's polarizing remarks about U.S. Rep. John Lewis — add intrigue to Marin's quest.

His bill, however, has a long way to go — and not everyone’s sold.

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