Cloak-and-dagger redistricting in Athens

Look for Athens to boil over in the next few days. We’re hearing that a certain state Rep. Doug McKillip, a former Democrat in the area, is backing local legislation to force a March 6 – that’s right, in five weeks – referendum on some specifics of Athens/Clarke County’s consolidated government.

The bill hasn’t been dropped. Yet. But note that March 6 is the day of Georgia’s presidential primary, when hordes of Republican voters will be driven to the polls. Not so many Democrats are expected. President Barack Obama’s name is the only one on the ballot.

As a university town, the A/CC area leans Democratic, but its government is officially nonpartisan — a mayor and 10-person commission. The latter is made up of eight district commissioners and two elected at-large.

The at-large commissioners – Mike Hamby and Kelly Girtz — appear to be one set of targets. The choice that is to be placed before voters, we understand, would do away with the at-large commissioners, in favor of nine commissioners elected by district.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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16 comments Add your comment

Big John

January 24th, 2012
2:32 pm

McKillip will be beat in the primary.

The Ghost of Lester Maddox

January 24th, 2012
2:47 pm

Good luck trying to get the March 2012 election pre-cleared thru the Obama US Justice Dept.

Yeah boy.

Chuck Jones

January 24th, 2012
3:02 pm

The Athens government is unfortunately one of the most crooked in existence; a one-party system dominated by one faction, Boss Davison and his in-town cronies. Any attempt to reform this system can only be a positive. Furthermore, large districts (known in Athens as “superdistricts”) dilute African-American representation. Finally, I strongly suggest that any districting include a student district, such that students should have a voice on the Commission. As it is now, the student vote is divided among districts 4, 3, and 7, diluted so that they can never elect a representative.

(By the way, one correction – Hamby and Girtz each represent one-half of the county, not at-large. The Mayor is the only one elected at large.)


January 24th, 2012
3:09 pm

That’s six weeks away not five. If it complies w/ the law, what’s your complaint?


January 24th, 2012
4:01 pm

Leans Democrat? How do you think they got title Peoples Republic of Athens?


January 24th, 2012
4:28 pm

The last good mayor in Athens was John “Big Man” Padgett. What ever happened to him?

There's a Sickness In GA

January 24th, 2012
4:35 pm

…either by hook or crook Republicans (even the fake ones, McKillip I’m lookin’ at you) will force us all under their yoke.

@ Chuck Jones “…one of the most crooked in existence; a one-party system dominated by one faction…” and this would make it different from most of the rest of GA how exactly?

While creating a student district sounds great in theory, students generally don’t vote in elections that far down the ballot (and what would happen if a special election was held when school wasn’t in session). If you created such a district, you’d essentially be creating a district that could be controlled by a very small group of people…you’d be providing them with out-sized influence in how the County operates.

Chuck Jones

January 24th, 2012
6:10 pm

Districts controlled by a very small group of people are the way ALL districts in Athens-Clarke County are currently. If you live in Cobbham or Five Points, you control everything, and to heck with everyone else. Any proposal to change this is a positive in my opinion.

You are correct that students generally do not vote, particularly in non-marquee races, and I believe this needs to change. But even if it did change, it wouldn’t make any difference with the district lines drawn as they are now. I do not really think that giving them a fair chance (not a guarantee, but a fair chance) to elect one of nine Commissioners would give them an undue influence, particularly when things are now set up such that students have NO influence.

Look towards Statesboro

January 24th, 2012
7:12 pm

@sickness: City of Statesboro had a majority campus district and its elected several student members since 1996. They voted!


January 24th, 2012
7:30 pm

Sorry Chuck, but Doug McKillip isn’t the least bit concerned about student or African American representation. His only concern is trying to get a republican seat as payback for the party taking him in. I’m no fan of Nathan Deal, but it’s no surprise that he was elected. Georgia is a republican state, so republicans get elected to most statewide offices. Athens elects democrats, just like most college towns. The Chuck Jones and Doug McKillips of the world need to get over it.

There's Is a Sickness In GA

January 24th, 2012
7:45 pm

@Look Well, I stand corrected.


January 24th, 2012
8:53 pm

Chuck Jones says The Athens government is unfortunately one of the most crooked in existence; a one-party system dominated by one faction, Boss Davison and his in-town cronies. Any attempt to reform this system can only be a positive

Who is “Boss Davison?” There was a mayor named Davison but she was a woman and has been out of office for over a year. Do you have any idea what you are talking about?

Chuck Jones

January 24th, 2012
9:35 pm

Al Davison is the political boss of Athens, who does enjoy a marital relationship with the mayor Davison you reference. I believe he also managed the campaigns of several (if not a majority of the) Commissioners. Political bosses rarely hold office themselves,

outsider may be entirely correct as far as Mr. McKillip’s motivations – I have no idea. I don’t believe I have ever spoken with the man. My position is that any reform of the present system, however motivated, is a good thing.

[...] with Republican Doug McKillip on the local redistricting map. This came in from Jim Galloway at the AJC: We’re hearing that a certain state Rep. Doug McKillip, a former Democrat in the area, is backing [...]

Real Athens

January 25th, 2012
8:29 am

Chuck: Just because you “believe” something does not make it so. Athens elections are non-partisan. How can one-party rule be so evident.

Are you trying to say Al Davison ran the campaign of current Mayor Nancy Denson? You’re high on glue.

The current system was “reformed” several years ago by the last “Republican” or conservative leaning mayor – Doc Eldridge. He’s now president of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce.

Al Davison

January 25th, 2012
9:48 am

LOL! I quit politics completely following my wife’s re-election about 5 years ago. I want nothing more to do with politics on any level.

It turns out I’m pretty inept when it comes to “corrupt” governments because I made a grand total of $200 (two-hundred-dollars) in over 10 years of working in campaigns. And, if I were any good at electing “corrupt” politicians, I wouldn’t be sitting here working my butt off just to keep a roof over my head and without 2 dimes to rub together.

Y’all have at it. I’m busy. If I had any time to do anything other than run my business, I’d be bass fishing – not messing about with campaigns.

Hahahahaha! Time to find somebody else to blame your misery on – maybe a quick look in the mirror would give you a clue.