The attorney who has filed suit against the Cobb Board of Commissioners to obtain a map that reflects the latest census data says he’s willing to agree to a couple of the maps drafted in the General Assembly, yet the commission is insisting on a map of its own.
There are several proposed maps in question.
The first map is one that the Georgia House approved, but that the Senate rejected, which carved a portion of Mableton out of Commissioner Woody Thompson’s district and put it in Commissioner Bob Ott’s.
The state Senate drew a second map, referred to as the “Compromise map,” which draws more of Mableton back into the district represented by Thompson.
The attorney, Jonathan Crumly Sr. of Marietta, says either map is acceptable to him.
“I offered to agree if they wanted to pick either the House map or the Senate compromise map, we could enter a consent decree,” Crumly said. “I got word Monday afternoon that they are opting instead to pursue a map that the commissioners presented to the legislators.”
Crumly is referring to the map that commissioners voted on in a 3-2 vote on Feb. 28, where commissioners Helen Goreham and JoAnn Birrell, both Republicans, joined Democrat Woody Thompson in voting for the map, while the other two Republicans on the commission, Bob Ott and Tim Lee, opposed it.
“That’s the one they are going to be advocating for,” Crumly said.
Lee told the Journal that he would not be addressing Crumly’s remarks since it was a matter the board took up in executive session. However, he did reveal why he voted against the Thompson-Birrell-Goreham map.
“It changed the geographical composition of Woody’s district too drastically for my comfort level,” Lee said. “Woody didn’t like (state Rep. Ed Setzler’s House map) because it carved up Mableton. The map that Woody and JoAnn came up with I thought changed too much in the other direction. It changed the shape of the existing district drastically on the border between Ott and Woody, and I didn’t think that was the best.”
Crumly said he also objects to the Thompson-Birrell-Goreham map.
To begin with, now that the maps have to be addressed through the court process, there is less latitude in population variances, Crumly said.
“As I read the statistics, the Cobb Commission map, while very tight on the distribution, has a greater population variance than the Senate Compromise map, which is actually closer to perfect alignment of the districts,” he said.
Crumly said there also looks to be problems with how the communities of interest in the Mableton-Smyrna-Vinings area are treated in that map as compared to the House and Senate Compromise maps.
“Finally, the Cobb Commission map was presented to the Cobb delegation and was rejected,” he said. “The Cobb Commission map has not gone through the intense vetting process that occurs in the committee work during the legislative session.”
Georgia law calls for the General Assembly, not the county commission, to adopt a map.
But because the General Assembly failed to reach an agreement before session ended for the year last month, Cobb was left without a map that reflected the latest census numbers.
The matter will ultimately be decided in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia by Judge Steve Jones.
A hearing has been set for 3:30 p.m. on May 7.
Ott, Thompson and Lee are up for re-election on July 31. Crumly said his goal is to have a decision on a new map before the May 25 qualifying deadline for those races. Otherwise, a special election would be required, which could cost $500,000.