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GOP State Reps file Cobb commission map drawing Richardson, Birrell into same district


Cobb GOP State Rep John Carson has filed a Cobb Board of Commissioners redistricting map which draws Commissioners Jerica Richardson and JoAnn Birrell into the same northeast Cobb district. 

With this proposed map, the existing commission boundaries shift from a rough split into north, south, east, and west Cobb, to one that has districts for northeast, west, and south Cobb, with District 2 taking up the I-75 corridor from Vinings to Marietta. 

This new map competes with one submitted last month by Rep. Erick Allen which ticks closer to the existing commission boundaries. Carson and GOP state Rep. Ed Setzler of Acworth allege that Allen’s map would create an immediate 4-1 majority for Democrats on the board, with a 5-0 majority by 2026. 

Carson says his map preserves the existing 3-2 Democratic majority. He claims that it has the signature of all six of his House Republican colleagues from Cobb. If made law, it will take effect Jan. 1, 2023, and apply to the upcoming November elections of Republican Commissioners Keli Gambrill and JoAnn Birrell.

 Said Setzler, “We feel like there’s clear communities of interest that are fairly defined in

recognizable ways.”

 In 2020 when she was elected, Richardson resided in Smyrna. She has since moved to the northern end of the existing boundaries of District 2. Allen’s proposed map would keep Richardson just inside her district while Carson’s map places her firmly within Birrell’s District 3. County commissioners are required to live within their respective districts for the duration of their term. 

Should Carson’s map becomes law, and if Richardson does not move within the new boundaries by next January, county code says her seat “shall become vacant.”

Both Richardson and Birrell provided comments on the map battle with Richardson saying, “One of the things that I believe made District 2 so successful is how diverse it was. This proposed map takes something that is truly unique and incredible about this district and splits it right down party lines, (and) turns it into two different areas. I care about economic development, I care about thriving and safe communities, and I think the way you get there is by not creating echo chambers.”

Birrell provided the following statement: “As I have previously commented, I do not like or endorse the idea of any commissioner being drawn out of her district. I tried to revise the 2012 map drawn by a US District Court Judge with updated Census information but could not get the numbers to work out adequately. The General Assembly has authority over all maps so they draw our district lines, too. It is their job — not ours — even though it ultimately affects us here at the local level.”

At competing news conferences last week that turned into competing shouting matches, Democrats called the proposed map “shameful” and “anti-democratic” while another called it “an attack on people of color.” Setzler defended the map, insisting it was “fair and reasonable.”

By law, the General Assembly, which is led by Republicans, controls the map-drawing process, however, they don’t have the final say. A decade ago, a judge placed a court-approved map in place after throwing out one proposed by the legislature.


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