Cobb Commissioner Woody Thompson, whose District 4 includes South Cobb’s Austell and the bulk of Mableton, is opposing a new redistricting plan which would add much of Mableton to neighboring District 2, which covers Smyrna, Vinings and a tiny portion of Mableton.
Every 10 years following the U.S. Census results, the county examines and redraws its district boundaries to maintain equal population in each. According to the most recent Census, Cobb’s total population is a little more than 688,000 people, which means each district should have close to 172,000 people in it.
Since most of the county’s growth was in South Cobb’s District 4 and West Cobb’s District 1, the boundaries for these districts were redrawn to add more constituents to the remaining two county districts.
The western boundary of the new District 2 “cuts the heart right out of Mableton,” Thompson said. “It’d just distort things. You’d have an East Cobb commissioner serving areas I’ve been serving going on my 12th year.”
The new map, created largely by Rep. Rich Golick (R- Smyrna), includes a larger portion of Mableton to Veterans Memorial Highway to be included in southeast Cobb’s District 2. Currently, the district, served by Commissioner Bob Ott, extend slightly west of South Cobb Drive.
State Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) gained the needed votes in the Georgia House and proposed the map in a bill on Feb. 6. The House heard the bill twice and will vote on it on Wednesday before sending it to senate to have the process repeated.
Thompson said he foresees the new boundaries being an issue because Ott, “as bright as he is,” does not know South Cobb or its people as well as he does having grown up in Mableton and served the area as commissioner for 12 years.
“It doesn’t mean the district can’t function. It just doesn’t function the way I want it to,” Thompson said.
Thompson told the Marietta Daily Journal in a recent report that he did not feel that the redrawn district was retaliation for him switching parties to run as a Democrat.
According to the report, Thompson said he switched parties because it was the only way he could win.
Thompson and fellow Commissioner Joann Birrell modified the proposed map on Friday and tweaked it a little more on Monday morning, Thompson told South Cobb Patch.
At Tuesday’s county commissioners regular meeting, the commissioners will vote to add the new map as a discussion item to the agenda. If added, the commissioners will have a chance to voice their opinions and vote on the map.
The commissioners’ vote “lets them (in state legislature) know what the majority of the commissioners think,” Thompson said. However, the final redistricting plan is decided wholly by the state legislature, he explained.
Thompson said his map would include “essentially what I have now.”
Golick called Thompson on Friday night.
“He said he’s willing to give me a couple precincts back to put the Barnes Amphitheatre back in my district,” Thompson said.
It is not just the Mable House property that Thompson believes should be in District 4, but the portion of Mableton, which stretches beyond Veterans Memorial Highway as well.
Golick was quoted in a December news report about another redistricting map, created by state Rep. Judy Manning (R-Marietta) and Cobb Chairman Tim Lee, which would carve out Republican-filled neighborhoods like Indian Hills, ““The existing communities of interest that are in place right now within District 2 — it’s my intention to preserve those because that’s the best thing for the community.”
The Mableton Improvement Coalition is also opposing the Golick map.
“Mableton should be kept in one community,” said MIC Chairman Joel Cope, adding that the community shares “one ZIP code” and “common interests.”
Golick said he received no complaints about his map, which was sent to commissioners on Dec. 8. He told MDJ that his map would be in the best interest of Mableton residents because they would likely be represented by both a Democrat and a Republican.
Cope explained that having commissioners with opposing views could mean that their votes cancel each other out and residents are not fairly represented.
In a letter to the Cobb delegation, MIC representatives wrote, “Our opposition to this proposed map for the Commission boundaries is based on the fact that Mableton is one (1) seamless community made up of citizens with common interests and should be preserved as such through the political boundary system.”