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Candidates line up in new commission districts

Dexter Fisher
Clarke County School District administrator Dexter is one of several candidates who have announced a run for ACC Commission in the newly redrawn districts signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp in February.

Candidates are lining up to run in newly created districts for Athens-Clarke County Commission, after Governor Brian Kemp signed the controversial local maps into law last week.
Allen Jones, founder of the advocacy group Timothy Forward, announced his campaign to run in the 7th district, which now spans the Timothy Road corridor, from the Atlanta Highway in the northwest of the district down to Whitehall Road.

Jones is the third candidate to announce a bid for ACC Commission in recent days. In district 5, Clarke County School District administrator Dexter Fisher and writer and activist Matt Pulver have also indicated that they will run, launching websites and campaign social media accounts.

But as candidates line up to run in the new districts, three sitting ACC Commissioners who have been drawn out of their seats are not ruling out legal action. Speaking at an event in Lawrenceville yesterday, current district 7 Commissioner Russell Edwards, who will not be eligible for re-election in his district, confirmed that possible litigation was in the works.

“We have retained legal counsel,” Edwards said. “We have former Attorney General Michael Bowers representing us, looking into this issue, and we want to be certain that the steps were followed appropriately and legally, and that's what we're going to find out.”

Bowers, who is affiliated with the Athens-based law firm Johnson Marlowe LLP, served as Georgia’s attorney general from 1981 – 1997, serving three terms as a Democrat and his final term as a Republican.

The process of creating maps for ACC Commission districts has been torturous and politically fraught. Commissioners voted last year to ask the county’s Board of Elections to create a proposed map, but that map failed to gather unanimous support among commissioners, a condition imposed by GOP members of the county’s legislative delegation. State lawmakers are responsible for introducing local redistricting changes, and county officials have no power in that process.

The four Republican state lawmakers who represent Athens then introduced their own map, which critics say was designed to draw three liberal commissioners out of their districts and make them ineligible to run for re-election this year. A compromise map produced by the county’s lone Democratic State Representative, Spencer Frye, incorporated many of the GOP map’s changes while keeping the three commissioners in their districts also failed to get unanimous support, leaving the Republican-drawn map as the one introduced to the Georgia General Assembly, passed, and signed into law last week by Governor Brian Kemp.

Martin Matheny is WUGA's Program Director and a host and producer of our local news program 'Athens News Matters.' He started at WUGA in 2012 as a part-time classical music host and still hosts WUGA's longest-running local program 'Night Music' which is heard on WUGA and GPB Classical. He lives in Normaltown with his wife, Shaye and dog, Murphy.
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