Newnan redistricting: Council to vote on new district lines

By JOHN A. WINTERS
john@newnan.com
Newnan City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on new redistricting maps that will change how council members are elected and what districts voters live in.
The decision likely will mean council will have at least two sitting members in the same district and possibly three, meaning they will have to run against each other in the next election.
There are three maps under consideration, although one known as the “Butterfly Option” because of its shape, has little chance because it would dilute minority voting strength. And because the U.S. Department of Justice has to approve the new districts, there’s little hope it would pass their approval.
That option is the only one where none of the council members would have to run against each other. It would create six separate districts with voters in each district voting for one council member. The current makeup, which also includes six council members, splits the city into four districts and two super districts — voters select the council member from their district, as well as one super district representative.
The city’s population has grown by 103 percent since 2000. The biggest changes will be seen in what is now Ward A, which covers the eastern part of the city represented by Clayton Hicks. Currently, about half the city is in that district. The districts must be redrawn every 10 years after the Census to ensure equal representation.
About 30 to 35 percent of the city’s population is minority, meaning at least one-third of whatever districts are decided on will have to have a majority of minority voters.

Of the remaining two proposals, one known as 6D also would create six separate wards with one council member elected from each district. The mayor would be elected citywide. District 6 would be about 55 percent minority voting population, and District 5 would be about 48 percent minority voting population. The other four districts would be predominantly white.

Under that proposal, no sitting council member currently represents what would be District 1. Council members Bob Coggin and George Alexander would be in the same district - District 5.

The third option, known as 3D, would split the city into three larger districts. Voters would vote for two council members from their district. The mayor would continue to be elected on a citywide vote. Under that scenario, District 3 would have a minority voting population of about 52 percent. The other two would be predominantly white.

Hicks would be the only sitting council member for the proposed District. 1. Coggins, Alexander and Cynthia Jenkins would all be in District 3.

In other action Tuesday:

• Council will consider a new contract between the city and the Coweta County School System to provide School Resource Officers for public schools within city limits. The last time the contract was amended was in 2006. The new contract is for one year.

The city would provide five officers — two at Newnan High School; one at Evans Middle School; one at Fairmont Alternative School; and one at Central Education Center. The officers will remain city employees, but the city will pay 55 percent of their compensation and the school board the remaining 45 percent. The city will provide five vehicles for the officers’ use, and the school board will buy replacement vehicles as needed as a cost not to exceed $24,500.

• Presentations will be heard from three firms for professional architectural services for the city’s proposed public safety complex. The new facility, estimated to cost between $8 million and $9 million, will be paid for with 2013 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.

• An update will be heard from Rakoo School of Creative Learning and Artistic Expression Inc., which has an agreement from the city to lease part of the Howard Warner complex. Rakoo wants to use the facility for a preschool program focusing on art and music. The city and Rakoo entered into a six-month memorandum of understanding on developing the facility and creating a business plan. That agreement is now at the four-month mark.

According to council documents, Rakoo is still waiting approval on its 501-C3 status and thus has not been able to solicit funds or apply for grants. However, the company does have a proposed building layout to assist them on cost estimates for renovations.

• White Oak Golden K-Kiwanis Club is asking for permission to set up a kiosk on Fridays and Saturdays from Nov. 2-17, and Nov. 11 for their 18th annual pecan sale on the downtown square.

• Four Corners Church to close West Washington Street between Jackson Street and Brown Street from noon until 4 p.m. on Oct. 13 for a fundraising event.



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