Proposed redistricting maps released by state legislators show the Fourth Congressional district includes all of Rockdale County and shifts east to include the eastern portion of Newton County.
COVINGTON -- Newton County's congressional districts will change under the proposed new maps released by the General Assembly this week.
The maps put Newton into the fourth and 10th Congressional districts. The fourth district is currently represented by Democrat Hank Johnson of Decatur and will be expanded to cover all of Rockdale and a portion of Newton, including Oxford, Porterdale, parts of Covington and the unincorporated county, taking up north and a large portion of western Newton.
Johnson is a former DeKalb County commissioner who was elected to Congress after defeating former Rep. Cynthia McKinney in the 2006 Democratic primary.
The proposal also puts Newton in the 10th District, currently represented by Republican Paul Broun of Athens.
The county has been drawn out of the seventh and eighth districts, represented by Republicans Rob Woodall and Austin Scott.
Georgia is gaining a new congressional district in the northeast corner of state. The map has to be approved on the state and federal levels. State legislators are expected to vote this week.
The Georgia House and Senate Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committee chairmen, Rep. Roger Lane, R-Darien, and Sen. Mitch Seabaugh, R-Sharpsburg, defended the maps in a press release. Both men say the maps meet standards set by the federal Voting Rights Acts and the process was fair and open.
In related news, state redistricting maps will now go to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature following approval by both the House and Senate. The new maps give Newton an additional senator and representative.
Georgia Democratic leaders criticized Republicans, who control both houses of the General Assembly, for the process used to create the district maps for state legislators as being closed to the public and pushed through quickly.
Several Democratic leaders said the maps are drawn to reduce the number of white Democrats in the state.
Sarah Todd, chair of the Newton County Democratic Party, said the process of creating the maps was not fair because, "Democrats were not included in any step of the process."
"We see the state and congressional maps for what they are -- the Republicans have finally, and, at the rate they are going, momentarily, gained the upper hand and are using this opportunity to do what is best for their party and as a chance to punish Democrats for past transgressions," she said. "No one with any integrity disputes the egregious gerrymandering of the 2001 maps the Democrats drew to protect their power bases. Obviously that backfired, just as this naked grab for power by today's ruling elites will backfire."
She added that the majority of Newton "has been moved from one congressional district that we have very little in common with to another one that we have very little in common with. We are still split between four house districts on the state level and now we are split between two state senate districts. Newton County didn't fare very well at all in the drawing of these maps."
A spokesperson with the local Republican Party could not be reached for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.