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02 February 2013

Proposed Fulton County Maps Actually Increases Minority Voting Strength

State Representative Lynne Riley (R - Johns Creek), a former member of the Fulton County Commission, recently introduced a proposal to re-shape Fulton County.

House Bill 171 eliminates one of Fulton County's two at-large commission seats in favor of six contiguous districts of equal size and one countywide commission seat. Rep. Riley, in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said, "The resulting map is fair, complies with constitutional and federal mandates, respects precinct boundaries and communities of interest and consists of compact districts."

I agree.

Not completely unexpectedly, however, some county commissioners say the new maps dilute the votes of black voters.

I disagree. In fact, a side-by-side comparison of the old maps versus the new maps suggest black voters would get even more representation on Fulton County's governing authority. Once again, here are the old maps and the new maps:

Proposed Maps
Current Maps

The current commission districts (shown above right) places the communities of Chattahoochee Hills, College Park, East Point, Fairburn, Palmetto, unincorporated south Fulton, Union City and part of Atlanta in a single district; district 7. These are all majority black communities packed into a single commission district. The maps proposed by Rep. Riley (shown above left) takes into account the population increase --from 162,879 in 2000 to 212,066 in 2010 according to Census data-- occurring in these eight black communities over the last decade, and gives these communities an additional seat on the Fulton County Commission.

Additionally, six individual districts puts county commissioners closer to their constituents.

The current composition (5 district, 2 at-large) of the Fulton County Commission has five commissioners representing 184,117 people in each respective district. The Riley proposal (6 district, 1 at-large) has six commissioners representing 153,431 people.

All 920,583 Fulton County residents, black or white, still gets a say on who chairs the commission. That seat remains untouched.

The Lynne Riley map is a good map for all of Fulton County, and those county commissioners (Bill Edwards et al.) opposing the Riley map are only doing so because the status quo favors those in power. All those who gain power are afraid to lose it, even Bill Edwards and John Eaves.