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Braselton chooses redistricting map

BRASELTON - Pressed for time and living under an unbalanced district map deemed illegal, the Braselton City Council chose one of two redistricting maps presented in a special called meeting on Friday. The proposed map

will be presented to the Georgia General Assembly this summer.

Braselton's city limits sprawl across four counties -Barrow, Gwinnett, Hall and Jackson - but most of the growth is taking place in Hall and Gwinnett. That lopsided growth has given Councilman Dudley Ray 767 homes in district 4, more than all three remaining districts combined.

District 1 is composed of 107 homes; District 2, 119; and District 3, 138.

Not only does that put Ray in the position of representative for the majority of Braselton, Mayor Pat Graham said, the current map could jeopardize the upcoming Nov. 1 election.

"We cannot go into the election with the current map because it violates the law," Graham said.

Braselton's current map violates the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which gives each individual equal protection under the law, or one man, one vote, said Linda Meggers, former head of the Georgia Reapportionment Office. Meggers drew the two proposed maps and suggested postponing the redistricting until 2011, when the 2010 Census figures would be compiled.

"You can't redistrict every time," Meggers said. "I would just live with it for four years."

Braselton was redistricted four years ago, after the 2000 Census.

Braselton officials also were struggling with a time limit, which affected their choice of the two maps. The law requires the proposed redistricting be advertised three times, and Braselton must advertise in the newspapers of the four counties. Because the Jackson Herald is a weekly newspaper, advertising will take three weeks, City Clerk Jennifer Scott said. Combined with council members' upcoming vacations and the time it takes for legislators to scrutinize and approve or reject the map, councilmen were under the gun to select a redistricting map.

"If we miss our window and don't get a map to the General Assembly, the election could be challenged," Graham said.

The map council members chose will move through the process faster because it already had been the subject of one public meeting.

Two council members live in Jackson County, one in Barrow and one in Gwinnett. Voters will elect a mayor and council members to represent Districts 2 and 4 Nov. 1.