Forum set to discuss redistricting

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

CONYERS -- The Rockdale-Newton Chapter of the League of Women Voters will hold an information forum on the upcoming redistricting process for Congressional and state General Assembly districts.

It will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, at the Rockdale Career Academy, located at 1064 Culpepper Drive in Conyers. The forum will have a brief explanation of the redistricting process followed by a panel discussion and question and answer session, according to Carole Copeland, vice president of the Rockdale-Newton LWV.

"Redistricting is very important to Newton and Rockdale counties, I mean, Rockdale alone has four different representatives in the Georgia House and there's been a lot of talk of having just one," she said. "It's an important process that wil affect everyone."

Georgia Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Robert Brown of Macon is scheduled to join the forum discussion along with local legislators Sen. Ronald Ramsey, D-Lithonia, Rep. Pamela Stephenson, D-Decatur and Rep. Dar'shun Kendrick, D-Lithonia.

Brown also serves on the Senate's Reapportionment and Redistricting committee.

Joining the legislators on the forum's panel are William Perry, director of Common Cause of Georgia, Nancy Adudu, senior staff counsel for American Civil Liberties Union, and Tracey-Ann Nelson, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Georgia.

The Georgia General Assembly will call a special session sometime this summer to redraw Congressional districts and state House and Senate districts.

Redistricting occurs every 10 years following the U.S. Census. The latest population count released from the 2010 Census shows Georgia added 1.5 million residents since 2000 which means the state is set to gain a Congressional seat.

The work by nature will be complex because Georgia is one of nine states that must receive preclearance for their redistricting from the federal Department of Justice under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Shifting of population among counties also showed some metro Atlanta counties did not grow as fast as others and could lose seats in the state House and Senate.

Rockdale County grew by 21 percent to 85,215 residents since 2000, according to the 2010 Census.

The number is lower than expected. Rockdale officials had predicted the population would exceed 100,000. The county's population was reported at 70,111 for the 2000 Census.

Newton County's population is 99,958, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday.

That number is also lower than expected. Newton officials had predicted the population would exceed 100,000. The Newton's population was reported at 62,001 for the 2000 Census.