The title of a Bob Dylan song says it well, “The Times They Are A-Changin.’”
That is very true for the county and County Commission. For those not sure of what is going on and its meaning, it bears serious examination.
How have the commissioners been elected to date? The county was divided into three geographical areas know as districts. Each of those districts produced commission candidates for one post each, specifically Posts 1 through 3. To run for those posts you had to live within the district the post represented
Another two posts, 4 and 5, were countywide positions. That meant you could live anywhere in the county and run for either.
When it came to voting for who to elect to any of the five posts, that was countywide. You could vote for every post regardless of where you lived.
What that meant, politically, is once you met the requirements to run for a post, it became a countywide campaign and election. You didn’t worry about your district’s support, you worried about all the voters from the whole county.
That was then, so where are we right now? That moves from Dylan to Chicago’s, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”
A lawsuit filed by the Fayette NAACP, under the Voter Rights Act, has resulted in a minority district being mandated and the court creating all the districts. All that is currently missing is the districts map which will tell you where you vote and who can run to represent you.
From now on anyone considering running can only do so for their district. Voters can only vote for candidates in their district. There will be no more countywide posts.
That means the winner will have to be appealing to their district’s voters, no one else.
There will be five districts of approximately 22,000 residents each. We have five cities and the unincorporated area. Each has it own distinctive identity, wants and needs. That means while the commissioners elected from the districts will be making decisions for the whole county, their district will be influencing their thinking and votes.
Peachtree City will be divided between at least two districts. Will there be an attempt to water down the representation, since Peachtree City is about a third of the county? Will there be two Peachtree City-dominated districts?
Who will be running to represent Peachtree City in however many districts it is divided between?
It all depends on how the districts are drawn.
All of this adds up to very interesting, and very important elections, in 2014 and 2016, with all the legal ramifications in-between. It signals a major change to Fayette County politics.
Next up, the district maps. Until then, plenty of food for thought as you can easily see.
Peachtree City, Ga.
[Haddix is the former mayor of Peachtree City.]