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POLITICS: Gwinnett legislators working on latest redistricting plans

Despite a special grand jury recommendation that the composition of the commission change, legislators said they are working on new district lines with the same number of districts.

"The county is becoming much more stable. We were much more fragile before," said Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford. "I would be much more reluctant to change it during this transition because it has gone so much smoother than we thought."

Unterman is referring to the past five months since a new chairwoman was elected to the Board of Commissioners. Ten months ago, the board was rocked by a special grand jury report on questionable land deals, which resulted in the resignation of then-Chairman Charles Bannister and indictment of then-Commissioner Kevin Kenerly.

On Wednesday, Gov. Nathan Deal officially called for a special legislative session, which will begin Monday, to draw new district lines based on 2010 Census figures.

Sen. Don Balfour, R-Snellville, is a member of the Senate Redistricting Committee. He said much of the attention has been focused on congressional and legislative maps. But district lines are also being drawn for the Gwinnett commission and school board.

The idea of increasing the membership of both boards has been mulled for years, but Balfour said the proposal now is to keep the number of districts the same -- four for commission and five for school board.

"We talked to the current members and some other people, and they didn't want to do that," he said of last year's special grand jury recommendation.

"Raising the amount of seats doesn't mean better members," Balfour added, comparing the scofflaws of the nine-member Atlanta School Board to Gwinnett's. "I know there are arguments that can be made both ways."

Balfour said proposed maps for legislative districts may be available today, while the county maps will likely be available Monday.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via email at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.