Fayette’s new 5-district map dead for session; Rep. Fludd blames legal organ foul-up for bill’s demise
The new five-district map approved by the Fayette County Commission on Feb. 14 will not come to fruition this year.
Although the commission met a Feb. 15 deadline to submit the new commission district map to the Georgia legislature for consideration, the associated legislation couldn’t be introduced until after a public notice ad ran in the county’s legal organ, according to Rep. Virgil Fludd, D-Tyrone.
That legal notice was not published until Feb. 29, which didn’t give enough time for the bill to be approved by both sides of the legislature, and be signed by the governor, Fludd said.
“The legislation was crafted, it just could not be introduced,” Fludd said.
That means the upcoming election for the Post 1, 2 and 3 seats currently held by Robert Horgan, Herb Frady and Lee Hearn will go by the existing three-district map that has been in place dating back to the 1980s.
The commission intended to adopt the new map to create a five-district scenario and balance the population in each district according to the results of the 2010 Census. Doing so would have removed the current process of having three seats tied to district posts and the other two seats allowing candidates to run at-large, meaning they can live anywhere in the county.
Fludd noted that the requirement for legal ads to run in advance of legislation being considered for such local matters has been around for a long time.
“The people on the board of commissioners are familiar with that concept and their attorneys are as well,” Fludd said. “... It’s not something out of the ordinary or unusual or unexpected. It’s very typical and it happens frequently.”
Responding to criticism that Fludd held up the map approval because it did not comply with the wishes of a lawsuit filed by the Fayette County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, he replied that “this has nothing to do with my personal opinion.”
The commission’s new map retained the at-large voting process for each district, meaning that any registered voter in Fayette County would be able to vote for all five commission seats regardless of which district they live in.
The NAACP lawsuit is seeking to impose district voting, which would restrict voters to voting only for the district seat corresponding to where they live. The NAACP contends doing so will allow the creation of one minority-majority district that will allow for the election of a black person to the county commission.
The Fayette County Board of Education has already settled the same NAACP lawsuit and agreed to district voting for this year.