LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett could soon have three congressmen, according to maps released Monday.
A proposed map to be debated at the General Assembly divides Georgia's second-most populous county.
The proposal divvies southern Gwinnett into the DeKalb-based Fourth District, represented by Hank Johnson, with much of the county remaining in the 7th District, currently held by Rob Woodall. Those two, who currently represent Gwinnett, would be joined by Athen's Paul Broun, whose 10th District would be extended into Gwinnett's eastern boundaries.
During a special session under way, legislators are drawing new boundary lines based on the 2010 Census. Georgia gains a 14th representative based on the Census.
Also Monday, members of Gwinnett's legislative delegation reviewed proposed maps for the county commission and school board seats.
"We kept the communities of interest together," Rep. Tom Rice said of the four-district commission map, where the only city that is split is Duluth.
Despite the urging of a special grand jury last year, the proposals do not increase the number of districts for either governing body.
They also do not address calls for districts where minorities could elect representation.
In fact, Sen. Curt Thompson, a Democrat from Tucker who has expertise on the Voting Rights Act as an attorney, said the Republican-drawn county commission map likely violates the act.
While Sen. Don Balfour said he tried to draw a minority-majority district and was unsuccessful, Thompson said a southern Gwinnett district could be drawn with a majorty of blacks.
According to statistics, the proposed commission districts vary from just over 19 percent black in District 2 to nearly 35 percent black in District 3. The Hispanic population varies from 9 percent in District 3 to nearly 30 percent in District 2. The school board districts range from more than 15 percent black in District 3 to more than 31 percent in District 1 and from just over 12 percent Hispanic in Districts 1 and 4 to more than 45 percent in District 5.
Mike Berlon, a local lawyer who chairs the Georgia Democratic Party, said he was disappointed in the drafts.
"It makes it pretty clear to me there is almost no chance for a Democrat to win a seat any time soon," Berlon said, adding that since Democrats get about 45 percent of the vote in a county-wide election, there should be at least one on the commission or school board. "It's just not representative of the county."
Rice and Balfour said the maps were not likely to change while going through the process at the General Assembly. Rice said the Democrats had a chance to be involved in the process earlier and did not, but they are welcome to submit their own plans.
If the versions are approved by both Chambers and signed by the governor, they will then go before the Justice Department or a panel of federal judges.