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Georgia Senate lawmakers approve House redistricting map

Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 10:13 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - If you live in Savannah, Pooler or Garden City... you may have a new statehouse representative come next year’s midterm elections.

Georgia state lawmakers are working on a new house district map... a process known as redistricting. Every ten years, lawmakers create new maps based on new Census data.

The state senate voted to pass a Republican proposal Tuesday. It would impact Georgia’s 162nd, 163rd and 165th districts. But this new map has some local lawmakers concerned about the possible changes.

This bill passed the Senate among party lines 34-21. Representative Carl Gilliard and Representative Derek Mallow say the amended version of the House voting district map was made public Monday.

The proposed map for the House voting districts is expected to be voted on by lawmakers in the House Wednesday.

Here in Chatham County, the proposed map will affect some voters in Representative Carl Gilliard and Representative Derek Mallow’s districts.

The proposed map would change more than 20 Metro-Atlanta districts and even some in Chatham County.

“My district as it is drawn is more southside, Bamboo Farms, Hunter Army Airfield, Southside of Montgomery Crossroads on up to Crusader Community Center, Windsor Forest, which put us in a peculiar situation so I have about 60,000 voters now,” said Representative Carl Gilliard.

Representative Carl Gilliard serves House District 162. He sits on the redistricting and reapportionment committee. He voted against the bill. If it passes the house, he says he could gain thousands of voters in the Savannah area.

“What has happened that a good portion of my district that I love very well, which is the Westside area, has now been drawn into Representative Mallow’s district, so his district is a lot more discombobulated,” said Representative Gilliard. “Mine is a lot more firm to the left. It’s always a hardship to lose constituents that you love and work you for.”

Gillard says this new map will add between 5,000 to 6,000 voters to his district. He says he doesn’t think this map represents voters. Representative Derek Mallow who serves House District 163 agrees.

“These are folks who have been represented by Representative Gilliard for the last three terms that he’s been in the House,” said Representative Derek Mallow. “When they go to vote in the primary, they’ll see a new name on the ballot. And then that new name will be mine. I have not had a chance to serve these new friends and these new constituents yet.”

Representative Mallow says the proposed map overlaps his district with Representative Gilliard’s district and Savannah’s 165th district.

“For the current proposed map that I have. It does not represent the district that I have served. To me it’s almost completely an entirely new district.”

Some Democratic lawmakers believe there wasn’t enough time to provide feedback and inform voters on changes made to the proposed House voting districts map.

However the Redistricting and Reapportionment Committee Chairman says Republicans acted in the best interest of voters. For example, he says Democrats and Republicans will lose seats on both sides and this proposed map would split 29 voting districts between lawmakers instead of the current 39.

“You would think that the bedrock of our democracy is about to fail, said Senator John F. Kennedy. “That ‘Oh how horrible this is and how we went around the state and we heard about transparency and fairness and this can’t be fair to do it in three days.’ Well my dear friends how would you describe your conduct the last time you were in charge of running the maps? How would you do it? Three days was absolutely sufficient. Some of you might’ve even said perfect. That was just enough but when we do it, Wow! It’s just wrong.”

Congressional district maps are expected to be voted Friday or next week.

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