Wednesday, March 18, 2009

State Rep. Ellis Black opposes county commission bill, but State Reps. Amy Carter & Jay Shaw supports it.

A bill introduced in the Georgia House of Representatives Tuesday whose purpose is to enable the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners to expand its representation by adding two new super-districts is being opposed by State Representative Ellis Black, district 174, but has the support of State Representatives Amy Carter, district 175, and Jay Shaw, district 176.

Carter said “My understanding with the Board of Commissioners was that if they succeeded in getting the maps drawn and unanimously approved, I would support it, which I did.”

The population of Lowndes County has increased significantly without any corresponding increase in representation. With only three elected commissioners, each has around 32,000 citizens to answer to. The city of Valdosta has seven elected councilmen for a population of less than 50,000.

The expansion process is rather complex. The maps must pass muster with the Justice Department, be approved in the Georgia House and Senate, then go before the voters in the form of a referendum. If the bill succeeds and has voter approval, two more commissioners will be elected to the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners to represent the super-districts, which split the county east/west.

Commission Chairman Ashley Paulk said the issue was one of the most talked about during his election campaign, and citizens are pushing for it. With so much interest and so many missed attempts in previous years, Paulk and the commissioners believe it’s time for the legislative delegation and the public to combine to help the county commission keep up with the growing needs of Lowndes County by supporting the expansion.

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