Mayor Rick Ford and the city’s attorney have a meeting scheduled for Thursday in Atlanta to get the maps redrawn. The annexed properties that were not included were in the Ringer’s Crossroad, Gentle Breeze, Lakeland Park and Azalea Hill subdivisions.
“The changes involve a couple of subdivisons that hadn’t fully been developed,” Ford said. “There’s not that many people living in those areas so I don’t anticipate any drastic changes.”
It is expected that after Ford’s meeting on Thursday to redraw the lines that a special called meeting will be held for the official first reading of the reapportionment maps and the second reading and vote will take place at the regular July meeting. All maps must be approved by local municipalities and other governing bodies before being sent to the Department of Justice for its final stamp of approval in time for the August qualifying period for the November general election.
Villa Rica held its first reading Tuesday of an ordinance that would change the city’s charter to reflect the changes to each ward made by the Office of Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment. A second reading and final approval will take place next month following a public hearing.
The 2010 Census showed Villa Rica grew dramatically over the last 10 years from less than 5,000 residents to nearly 14,000 and the voting districts changed dramatically because of this growth. In some cases, members of the council will basically be representing totally different wards and in other cases the wards have shrunk or grown. One of the most dramatic changes was that of Ward 4 represented by Councilman Patrick Henrickson, which currently includes all city residents living in Douglas County but would shrink by more than half to just those residents in Mirror Lake under the proposed maps.
“Bottom line to this whole scenario, in my opinion, is this is for the city of Villa Rica,” Councilman Verland Best said. “We represent the city of Villa Rica and that’s the way it should be. These wards give the people who live there the person who they can contact, but we’re here for all the people of Villa Rica.”
City Attorney David Mecklin explained that the data from the U.S. Census was entered into computers and the new districts were drawn based on census blocks. These blocks were moved around so the districts would be relatively balanced.
“Because of the significant population shifts in the city between the 2000 Census and the 2010 Census some of the wards had to be significantly reconfigured,” Mecklin said. “For example, the Mirror Lake district has significantly shrunk because it was about three times larger than any of the other districts.”
Villa Rica’s proposed new district voting maps are available for review at City Hall.