Friday, March 19, 2004
Redistricting plan for the State Legislature finalized
By J. FRANK LYNCH
The political face of Fayette, Coweta and South Fulton counties is about to change dramatically, and fast.
Thanks to the final version of a redistricting plan for the State Legislature issued Monday by a trio of federal judges, several new House seats have been carved in the region, some lawmakers find themselves living in entirely new districts, and others will have to challenge fellow incumbents if they hope to gain reelection this fall.
Qualifying to run for General Assembly seats begins in just six weeks.
The primary election is in July. The General Election will be held Nov. 2.
Among the brand new seats with no incumbents is 85-B, which cuts a narrow swath across the middle of the Fayette County including most all of Peachtree City, as well as western and southern portions of Fayetteville to just below Harps Crossing.
It likely guarantees Fayette will have Republican House representation starting in 2005. House seat 85-B is contained with the county's borders, is more than 90 percent white and heavily Republican, having elected George W. Bush president in 2000 by a 71 percent margin.
The rest of Fayette County was carved up into shares of four other districts, through two others, like 85B, are brand new and will have no incumbents challenging for the seats come November.
District 83 (new seat) includes northeast Fayetteville and follows a line right up Ga. Highway 85 through Riverdale; the district, 58 percent black, includes 39,175 Clayton voters and just 6,162 Fayette voters.
District 48D (new seat) covers northwest Fayette including Tyrone and a small portion of the Kedron precinct east of Lake Kedron in Peachtree City.
District 85A remains serving a small portion of South Fayette, as well as most of Spalding County including Griffin, where Rep. John Yates now resides. He's expected to seek reelection to the new 85A, that counts 10,064 Fayette voters in its ranks. The bulk of Yates new district, 26,479 voters, live in Spalding, while 9,270 Henry County residents, primarily in the Hampton area, round out the district. Rep. John Lunsford also served Fayette in the 85th District.
District 81 is also new, but it has a familiar Fayette name and face attached. Rep. Virgil Fludd, who has been sharing the multi-seat 48th District with three others since 2002's election, is expected to seek return to the statehouse via the new 81st, which covers his neighborhood in north Fayette and stretches up Ga. Highway 314 into Clayton County, ending at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
At 57.2 percent black, the new 81st includes 29,735 Clayton residents and 16,000 Fayette residents.
In an interview last month, Fludd declared that he intended to run for a second term in the General Assembly no matter what state House district he found himself living in.
Fludd, currently the lone Fayette County resident among the seven House representatives whose districts occupy a piece of the county, shared the 48th District with three other legislators, but the judges dismantled all multimember districts, as expected.
On the Senate side, Sen. Valencia Seays 34th District that covers most of northeast Fayette remains virtually unchanged. Voters in north and east-central precincts, primarily from Fayetteville to the Clayton line, live in Seay's district.
The remainder of Fayette makes up the largest single voting block of a new 16th Senate seat that covers all of Tyrone, Peachtree City and South Fayette, and stretches through Spalding, Pike and Lamar counties into Monroe County, where it includes the entire city of Forsyth.
Fayette will no longer be represented by Sen. Mike Crotts, whose old 17th district included parts of Fayette.
In Coweta County, residents will only have one Senate seat and two House seats to vote on in the fall.
The 28th district seat, currently represented by Mitch Seabaugh, now includes all of Coweta and Heard counties, but none of Fayette. The district also includes portions of Troup and Carrol counties.
The judges sliced Coweta into two House districts, the 86th and 87th. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, whos running for Congress, is the current representative in the 86th, while Newnans Lynn Smith is the incumbent in the 87th.
Voters in South Fulton County will be represented by one senator and one representative.
Fultons new Senate district, the 35th, is represented by Kasim Reed, while the House district, the 48th is currently a multi-member district represented by Sharon Beasley-Teague, Virgil Fludd, Joe Heckstall and Bob Holmes.