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City redoing districts

POSTED: May 9, 2011 9:29 a.m.
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Darden

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The Hinesville City Council voted Thursday to redraw its voting districts to comply with the Voting Rights Act. The city’s 2010 Census numbers shows two of its districts’ populations swelled in the past 10 years, and another district’s population has declined somewhat.
Hinesville Attorney Linnie Darden advised the council to move forward on redistricting immediately, although the qualifying period for the upcoming municipal election starts Aug. 29. Hinesville will hold its municipal election on Nov. 8.
Darden said to avoid any potential lawsuits over the fairness of the upcoming election, city leaders must show they are making a sincere attempt to adhere to the Voting Rights Act concept of one person, one vote. Redistricting is not mandatory or required under Georgia state law, but not complying with the Voting Rights Act could open the city up to legal challenges, he said.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed discriminatory voting practices, particularly as it pertains disenfranchising minority voters. The act also served to diversify the electorate, according www.civilrights.org.
Darden added it should take the Justice Department about 60 days to give the city the necessary pre-clearance on redistricting.
District 4 Council Member Keith Jenkins voted for the redistricting, but said he is concerned some voters will be “confused” by it. 
Jenkins said he doesn’t believe the 2010 Census accurately reflects the city’s population, as many soldiers were not counted as residents. He asked if the city could conduct its own “in-house” population survey.
Darden said it would be wiser for Hinesville to bring its districts “in line” with the Census Bureau’s official figures.
Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier said the city will just have to make an extra effort to inform residents of the district changes before the next election.
In other city business:
• The council accepted a $148,628 bid from Palm Coast Utilities of Allenhurst to replace failed storm drain piping in Windhaven subdivision.
• Hinesville Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Vicki Davis informed the council of the Buy-A-Brick campaign to raise funds for the Memorial Drive traffic circle sculpture. The project cost is estimated at $75,000. The city, in partnership with Savannah College of Art and Design classes, held a sculpture design contest last year and a winning design was chosen. The project is on hold pending funding. Memorial bricks will cost $50 and $100, depending on size, and $500 for granite tiles.
• The council scheduled an administrative show-cause hearing to determine an appropriate alcoholic beverage license holder for Buffalos Southwest Café. It will be at 5 p.m. May 19, in the municipal courtroom inside the Hinesville Police Department.

 

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