Has the thought ever crossed your mind that South Georgia is an entirely overlooked part of Georgia? It seems that our state government (especially the Atlanta crowd) has the tendency of viewing us as little peons past the gnat line and of little or insignificant value. Insignificant, that is, unless they need our votes come election time.
I read with interest a column last week in a neighboring newspaper written by columnist Tom Crawford. Crawford is editor of Capitol Impact’s Georgia Report and his column regarded Georgia’s redistricting process. Crawford states that in the Georgia House of Representatives, due to population loses, there could be as many as four to five South Georgia seats lost during reapportionment. In regard to these seats he cites, “A legislator like Tommy Smith (R - Nichols, represents Appling), who’s not particularly popular among some of his colleagues, may also see his district disappear.”
Boy, I tell you what, this just makes me thrilled knowing that our portion of the state could lose even more representation in Atlanta. (In case you missed that, I am being sarcastic.)
Currently the Georgia House and Senate are holding 12 joint public hearings across the State of Georgia to gain public and community input into the legislature’s reapportionment and redistricting process. Locations of hearings that have been held include Athens, Augusta, Savannah, Albany, Valdosta and Columbus. Upcoming hearings will be held in Cartersville, Macon, Stockbridge, Dalton, Gainesville and Atlanta. The nearest hearing location remaining for us folks in the southeast will be Macon on June 13 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Take a look at the map above. Notice anything unusual? No hearings were scheduled south of Interstate 16 or east of Interstate 75, what I consider Southeast Georgia. Why? That is the question weighing on many minds in our area. You would think that if our community, or other communities in the area, are going to have to combine with another house district we might want to have some say in how this is going to come to pass. Yet our area was completely overlooked during the state hearing process. Was this done purposely?
The News-Banner asked State Representative Tommy Smith and State Senator Tommie Williams why no hearings were held in this part of the state. Smith and Williams responded by saying that they agree, a hearing should be held in the area.
I have often joked during conversations with others that any area below Macon is an entirely different state. When an entire section of the state is not included in this process, whether purposely or not, it drives home the fact that we are the stepchild portion of the state.