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City Districts ... the What, Where and Why

Have you wondered what is going on with the new city's city council districts? Get all your questions answered here

Greetings,
I hope everyone had a very relaxing and enjoyable Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Since November 8th, the last few months have been a very exciting and busy time in the life of our new city as twenty local residents qualified to run for six city council seats and the new mayor was chosen as Mike Mason is running unopposed.

As many of you know, I have decided to run for the city council seat for Post 3.  I am very excited about the opportunity to serve my fellow citizens as a member of our city’s first city council.  I believe that service to one’s community (whether that be by serving on the city council, as a mentor to a student, as a youth coach or in the military) is one of the best ways to make a profound and lasting difference in the world.  

Over the next few months I look forward to sharing more about myself, my campaign and also discussing various topics that I find the voters are interested in learning more about.  One of the topics many residents seem very interested in is understanding more about the city council districts.  Specifically, the questions center around what are the boundaries of the districts, what is the difference between at-large districts and geographic  district, and why do we have a mix of at-large and geographic districts instead of all of one or the other.  

What are the Boundaries of the Districts?  There are three geographic districts and three at-large districts in the new city.   All at-large districts (Posts 4, 5 and 6) have the same boundaries as those of the city.  The three geographic districts are divided up based on population, with each district having approximately 13,000 residents.  I have a link below that will take you to a PDF file showing the district boundaries but in general the districts are divided in this manner:

District 1 – Starts at DeKalb border and extends northward to Holcomb Bridge.  Its other borders are the river and Buford Highway.

District 2 – Starts at Holcomb Bridge and extends northward to a combination of roads including Medlock Bridge, Peachtree Corners Circle, West Jones Bridge and Fitzgerald.  Its other borders are the river and the Norcross city limits.

District 3 – The southern border is roughly Medlock Bridge, Peachtree Corners Circle and West Jones Bridge.  It extends northward to the river and the borders with Duluth and Berkeley Lake.  Its boundary to the east is Buford Highway.

What is the difference between an at-large district and a geographic district?  At-large districts cover the entire city, while geographic districts cover only a portion of the city based on population.  Each geographic district has approximately thirteen thousand residents.  These divisions were based on 2010 census results.

Why do we have a mix of at-large and geographic districts instead of having all one or the other?  During the creation of the city when city boundaries were being drawn there was discussion about how many city council seats there should be.  A consensus was reached that the number should be limited to a total of six.  The discussion then shifted to whether these districts should be at-large or geographic. Discussions were had with neighboring cities about what worked best for them. Norcross and Berkeley Lake have only at-large districts and both cities preferred this method because it eliminated the problem of territorial issues.  Sandy Springs has only geographic districts and they apparently have developed territorial issues as a result.

What are territorial issues you may ask?  An example of a territorial issue would be when a councilman from one district consistently votes in a manner that benefits just his district without taking into consideration what is the best for the city as a whole.  

Dunwoody, unlike Norcross, Berkeley Lake or Sandy Springs, has a mix of at-large and geographic districts.  The reason they have the mix of district types is that they wanted to avoid territorial issues by having geographic districts, but they also wanted to avoid any issues with the 1965 Voting Rights Act by having only at-large districts.  Since at-large districts allow everyone in the city to vote for all the candidates there is a belief in some corners that this dilutes minority voting strength and could result in election outcomes that were not reflective of the demographic makeup of the city.  

So, while it would seem advantageous from the standpoint of eliminating territorial issues to have all our districts be at-large, it was also deemed important to avoid any legal entanglements with federal voting law by not having only geographic districts.  The mix of at-large and geographic was seen as a compromise that would partially eliminate the territorial issue while also avoiding legal problems with the Voting Rights Act.

I hope you have all found this information to be helpful in understanding what district you live in, what type of district you live in (actually everyone lives in both kinds) and why the city decided to create the districts the way they did.  

In the meantime if you are interested in learning more about my specific campaign (that would in District or Post 3) please visit my campaign website at www.wright4pccouncil.com or at our Facebook page, wright4pccouncil.

Leave a question or comment in the Comment box below.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Alex J. Wright January 11, 2012 at 07:01 PM
I have attached a link to an AJC article http://www.ajc.com/news/fayette/fayette-school-board-settles-1298490.html that discusses a recent lawsuit between Fayette County and the NAACP. Fayette County was being sued because its five school board seats were all At-Large instead of geographic. The lawsuit claimed that this arrangement resulted in minority voting strength being diluted. The county agreed to change its districts from At-Large to geographic. This is an example of where Peachtree Corners having a mix of geographic and At-Large districts should minimize the possibility of these types lawsuits against the city.
Harry Dorfman January 12, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Seems all candidates bios focus on their desire to serve, but you have my vote because I believe you are the only candidate that has demonstrated this through military service.
Alex J. Wright January 12, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Mr. Dorfman, Thank your very much for your support. I hope I will have the opportunity to serve you and the people of District 3 as your councilman. Regards

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