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Vote by district closer
Hamiltons bills shift to Senate
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Forsyth County News
Forsyth County’s commissioners and school board members are a step closer to being elected by district after two bills introduced by Rep. Mark Hamilton cleared the state House.

Hamilton’s HB 373 and 378 await Senate approval after the House passed each unanimously with 138 votes on Wednesday.

“I’m glad to see that it’s moved on,” said Hamilton, a Republican from Cumming.

The measures would revise the county’s current election process to require each of the five seats on the school board and commission be decided by voters living in the respective districts.

For example, voting for posts in District 5 would be limited to voters living in that area, which includes Cumming and much of eastern Forsyth. Voters in the other four districts would not have a say in District 5 contests.

Currently, officials for the two panels are elected countywide, though they must qualify in the district where they live.

The legislation was inspired by a 2008 primary election ballot question in which voters overwhelmingly said they preferred district voting over the current at-large setup.

The two county commissioners up for re-election in 2010, Charles Laughinghouse and Jim Harrell, have expressed their discontent with the bills.

In Laughinghouse’s case, had district voting been in place in 2006, he would not have been re-elected.

Some residents also have spoken out against the measures, arguing voters would lose their voice on commission decisions, which impact the entire county, not just the districts.

“All the voters and citizens of Forsyth have representation,” Hamilton said. “And should this pass, their representation is that much closer to the people, which is the basis of the type of government that we want.

“Most of the people I’ve talked to would rather be one of 35,000 or 40,000 in a constituent base, versus one of 170,000.

“That’s what the people of Forsyth County told us back in the primary that they wanted.”

E-mail Jennifer Sami at