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Forum on redistricting Monday night
Local political parties come together for event
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Forsyth County News

If you’re going

The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday in Suite 220 of the Forsyth County Administration Building, 110 East Main St. in Cumming. Doors will open at 6 p.m. Interested parties unable to attend can e-mail inquiries and suggestions to forsythredistricting@gmail.com.

Change is looming.

Perhaps the lone certainty when voters cast ballots in the 2012 presidential primary will be that some things will be different.

Anticipating that county, state and federal districts likely will undergo changes in the coming months, local political parties have organized an informational meeting Monday.

The Forsyth County Democratic, Republican and Tea parties have joined forces for a non-partisan session on the reapportionment of voting districts.

A map of proposed changes to Forsyth County’s districts, presented during Thursday’s county commission meeting, will be part of the discussion.

But the meeting will focus largely on state and congressional changes.

New reapportionment maps are typical after U.S. Census numbers are released every 10 years.

With Forsyth’s substantial population growth in the past decade, all three parties agree the county should not be split between congressional districts.

As is stands, most of the county is in District 9, with some of south Forsyth in District 7.

"The purpose is to try to build a sense of community," said Ethan Underwood, chairman of the Forsyth County Republican Party. "My concern is that if we get carded up into lots of different political districts, it takes away from the sense of belonging to a Forsyth County community.

"When we got talking with all three parties, everyone was on board with the concept … so we thought it makes sense to get the rest of the community on board and show the state and the folks in the General Assembly that it’s important to us from across the political spectrum that we stay whole throughout the reapportionment process."

Ultimately, the state legislature will approve all new maps, including those for Georgia’s 159 counties, along with state and congressional district maps.

The maps must then be approved at the congressional level before the U.S. Department of Justice can grant final approval.

Several speculative maps are floating around, based on Census data, but the legislative reapportionment committees have not released any of their possible maps.

The three Forsyth political parties, however, have agreed on a congressional map they plan to present Monday.

Pending feedback at the meeting, Steve Voshall said the proposed map would be submitted to let the legislature know what residents want.

"The main thing we’re trying to do on the federal level is to keep Forsyth County, Cherokee County, Hall County, Dawson County and Lumpkin County together," said Voshall, founder of the Forsyth County Tea Party.

"As long as those core five counties stay together, I think we’ll be pretty flexible beyond that."

Voshall said it was refreshing to see all three parties so easily agree on one map.

"It proves to me it’s not an issue of Republican or Democrat, it’s an issue of values and concerns," he said.

While the parties may disagree on federal issues, Forsyth County Democratic Party chairwoman Sharon Gunter said the state and congressional maps are about regional issues.

"If we’re down here needing assistance with traffic issues and congestion and in the district with the people up there all the way in Towns County [near North Carolina]… they don’t have traffic congestion issues," she said. "And if we’ve got the same representative, then traffic issues might not be his top priority.

"It’s really important that they connect us with like interests and similar types of community situations so that they’re serving one interest and don’t have conflicting interests within one district."

The three party leaders hope for a large turnout Monday to get feedback from as many county residents as possible.