Athens News Matters: Democratic State Representative Proposes ACC Commission District Map of his own
After widespread criticism of a Republican-drawn map of proposed ACC commission districts, the city’s lone Democratic state representative is out with a proposal of his own.
In a special called meeting on Thursday afternoon, the ACC Mayor and Commission debated Frye’s proposal. We’ll get an update on what happened, and what it all means.
Last week, you heard about a controversial Republican-backed proposal that would make sweeping changes to Athens-Clarke County’s commission districts. Now, the county’s lone Democratic representative in the Georgia General Assembly, Spencer Frye, has a competing proposal.
Alexia Ridley spoke with Frye about his map. Here’s their conversation.
This transcript was edited for clarity:
Alexia: What can you tell me about your proposed district map? How does this version differ from the one your Republican colleagues drafted?
Rep. Frye: Well, certainly they created a map that seemingly targeted individuals that are sitting on the commission. They split up neighborhoods of interest. They split up certain voting precincts to achieve their goals.
And what we did was tighten the map back up to where it keeps more communities of interest together. It separates fewer voting precincts, which creates better accuracy and less cost for the board of elections; a better accuracy when we're voting. It's just a less disruptive map that achieves all the goals that they touted that their map did.
Specifically, and I'll talk to you about this, I'm going to say this on the radio and I'm not happy to have to say this stuff. Within a normal redistricting period you would potentially attempt to create districts that your own party could win seats in. This is the first time I have witnessed redistricting that would target specific individuals that are sitting and duly elected commissioners based on personal feelings and childlike behavior.
I feel like we're seeing the subversion of the will of the voters of Athens-Clarke County. And it is merely done out of spite and not any sort of political gain for either party. It is merely a disruption of our government. And it's the exact behavior that we have come to recognize from the party of Trump.
And I use that term because the map that they presented to disrupt and disenfranchise the Athens voters was presented to the public on January 6th—the one-year anniversary of the storming of the Capitol by American terrorists. This is the exact type of shenanigans that we expect. And I'm extremely disappointed in the local delegation for even attempting something like this.
Alexia: What would you like Athens-Clarke County residents to know about what prompted you to come up with your own version of the map?
Rep. Frye: I would like the Athens-Clarke County residents to know that for us to be spending so much time on these maps, on these sandbox politics maps, is taking away from valuable time that we could be spending, as legislators and as a government, solving real problems. This is not a real problem. This is a problem that is being created. It’s sucking out all the energy in our community and sucking up a lot of energy at the capitol as well. And this is not what we need to spend our time doing. We should spend our time working on solving issues for the citizens of this state.
Alexia: What would you like to see when the final map is actually approved?
Rep. Frye: I'd like to see a final map that doesn't disrupt the Athens-Clarke County duly elected government—a map that's made by the people, for the people; not a map that is being used as a bullying tool or as a revenge tool. This is the United States of America and we are one of the original 13 colonies. The right to vote for who we want to represent us is a sacred American right that this local Republican delegation—the party of Trump—is trying to take away from our Athens citizens. We should not stand for that.