Monday afternoon, State Representative Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee, released a proposed district map for the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners.

“After sharing this proposal with Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Hendrickson, I am releasing this updated map that equalizes population, recognizes population shifts and complies with the Voting Rights Act,” Rich said. “This map also adheres to traditional redistricting principles of compactness, including keeping communities of interest together and not pairing incumbents in the same district.”

Once a county with a predominantly white population, Gwinnett County has grown increasingly diverse and has become the most ethnically diverse county in the Southeastern United States. According to the 2020 census, 30% of Gwinnett County’s residents are Black, 13% are Asian American Pacific Islander and 22% are of Hispanic or Latinx origin.

“Also, in keeping with Gwinnett’s diverse population, four of the four districts are majority nonwhite,” Rich said. “There is zero partisan gerrymandering reflected in this proposal, which seeks to comply with all aspects of the laws of redistricting.”

“The Republicans’ map draws much of northern Gwinnett County, including Buford and Suwanee, together and labels it District 1. The current commissioner, Kirkland Carden, does not live in District 1. His term expires in two years.

Districts 2 and 4 are on the ballot during midterm elections, while Districts 1 and 3 and the countywide chair appear on presidential ballots, according to the legislation that created Gwinnett County. Districts 2 and 4, on this year’s ballot, are currently represented by Ben Ku and Marlene Fosque, respectively. But under the Republicans’ proposed map, Fosque now lives in District 1, Carden in District 2 and Ku in District 4.

Democrats have countered saying the map would split Black districts in Gwinnett County and Latino districts in western Gwinnett County.

The House Governmental Affairs Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the proposed map Tuesday at 8 a.m. The Gwinnett commission meets Tuesday beginning at 9:45 a.m.

Georgia Republicans seek to strip party labels from Gwinnett Board of Education Elections

Meanwhile, the battle for the Gwinnett County Board of Education continues to rage on. Tarece Johnson was elected to chair the Board on January 27th. Johnson will also be the first Black woman to serve as chair of the Board after she was elected 3-2 along party lines.

With 180,000 students, Gwinnett educates more than 10% of all public school students in Georgia.

Johnson succeeds Everton Blair who is mounting a campaign to become Georgia’s State School Superintendent. 

On the same day, State Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Buford, filed his legislation to switch the Gwinnett school board to nonpartisan elections. Senate Bill 369 advanced from committee by a 4-2 margin. Johnson was not confident regarding after her party’s victories and said it would result in lower voter turnout since nonpartisan elections are held months before general elections.

State Senator Nikki Merritt, D-Lawrenceville, supports the idea of Gwinnett’s residents  voting in a referendum whether school boards should be elected by party.

Merritt also inferred Republicans lost their majority on the county school board in 2020.

“Losing is not a cause for overhauling policy. Instead this issue has become an ideological battleground over school mask mandates and truth in education,” Merritt said. “Now that Gwinnett County has flipped, we are just witnessing a power grab over local control.”

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...