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ACC Mayor and Commissioners condemn GOP map

Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz and District 7 Commissioner Russell Edwards joined commissioners from Gwinnett and DeKalb counties Wednesday to speak out against what one lawmaker characterized as an “egregious hijacking of the local redistricting process” by GOP state lawmakers.

Speaking at the event in Lawrenceville, Girtz condemned the ACC redistricting map created by Republican members of Athens’ local legislative delegation and pointed to what he called the underlying politics. "

"We are in a changing Georgia. We are moving toward an inclusionary version of this state…. Just in Athens-Clarke County, we have made historic commitments to affordable housing, and affordable transportation, and infrastructure that connects to communities that had been left behind for generations. And as we move into this era, what we’re seeing is the last gasp of a dying political dynasty," said Girtz.

Mayor Girtz also disputed the argument made by supporters of the map—that the districts are more compact and create additional majority-minority districts—calling these arguments inaccurate and citing the split of inner-East Athens and the separation of Winterville from its long-time district as examples.

ACC commissioner Edwards, who will lose his seat and be ineligible to run for re-election in May responded to a question about planned legal challenges. "Former Attorney General Michael Bowers is representing us, looking into this issue. We want to be certain that the steps were followed appropriately and legally. And that’s what we’re gonna find out.”

ACC Commissioners Tim Denson and Melissa Link, the other two commissioners who will lose their seats, were also present.

“I am certain that we are still going to have strong progressive candidates who care about the people of Athens-Clarke County, care about the people of Georgia and prioritize the needs of those people," said Commissioner Denson.

Commissioner Link emphasized that ACC local elections are the third week in May. "This gives an extremely limited time for any new candidates who might want to step into those empty seats that the Republican legislative delegation has created. It gives an extremely limited time for these folks to fundraise and plan a campaign or even decide if they want to run for this local office," said Link.

The ACC local redistricting map was opposed by the majority of commissioners. It was drawn up by the four Republican members of Athens’ local legislative delegation and signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp last week.

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