The defendants joined the plaintiff Monday as U.S. District Judge Steve Jones raced to enact new Cobb County commission districts in time for the July 31 primaries.
The main issue now appears to be how far west Northeast Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell’s District 3 will reach.
Jones approved a motion to switch the and its five members from defendants to plaintiffs in Marietta lawyer Jonathan Crumly’s redistricting lawsuit.
The court agreed that Crumly and the commissioners share the goals of creating constitutionally balanced districts and doing so quickly enough to avoid a special election.
What you think of the judge's proposed map?
In a Monday afternoon hearing, Jones presented his own proposed map of the four commission districts and generally found support.
Jones drew the map, different from previous proposals, with the help of the legislature’s Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office.
“It’s about as good as can be expected,” Southwest Cobb Commissioner Woody Thompson told South Cobb Patch. “It’s not perfect, but we got Mableton back.”
The fate of Mableton was one of the issues that blocked legislators from drawing new districts based on the 2010 census.
In an attached affidavit filed with the court, Republican state Rep. Ed Setzler, who heads the Cobb legislative delegation, blames Thompson’s brother, Democratic state Sen. Steve Thompson, for that failure.
Jones’ map keeps Mableton in Thompson’s District 4 instead of moving all or part of it to Bob Ott’s District 2.
Those two commissioners, along with at-large Chairman Tim Lee, are up for re-election this year.
Qualifying for the seats is a little more than two weeks away, and to keep the process on schedule for the July primaries and avoid a $200,000 special election, Jones has imposed a deadline of next Monday to resolve the case.
Because Jones’ map is not a legislative creation, it is not subject to Justice Department review, thus removing a potential roadblock, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said. The General Assembly has the power to redraw the lines any time.
Lee, Ott and District 1 Commissioner Helen Goreham testified Monday.
Crumly praised the judge’s proposal as closer than any other map to dividing the county’s population into four equal parts, The Marietta Daily Journal reported.
It also keeps Marietta divided among the commissioners, as requested by Mayor Steve Tumlin.
Viveca Famber-Powell filed a motion to become a defendant in the case—that is, in opposition to Crumly and the commissioners—and submitted her own map that would keep Marietta whole and, attorney Jeff Jeter argued, protect minority rights.
Jones plans to rule today on whether to let her join the lawsuit.
The remaining nit is the exact line between Districts 1 and 3, the MDJ said.
Northwest Cobb’s Goreham loses the Town Center Area Community Improvement District, and under the judge’s map, and she wants them back.
Crumly has until noon today to file any additional information, and everyone else has until 4 p.m.
The judge plans to rule on a finale map this week.