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Emanuel heading to new senate district

Take note, Emanuel County. Some residents will soon have a different senator and, moving forward, the entire county will be under the umbrella of one district, thanks to upcoming finalization of redistricting that took place in mid-November.

Emanuel was once in two different senate areas: Senate District 4 (along with Candler, Bulloch, Evans, Effingham, and part of Tattnall) and Senate District 23 (comprised of Johnson, Jenkins, Screven, Burke, Jefferson, Glascock, Warren, McDuffie, and parts of Columbia and Richmond).

As such, the late District 4 Republican Jack Hill represented the local area. He was succeeded by another Republican, Billy Hickman, in a special election to fill the unexpired term left vacant by his passing.

The constituents in the county who resided in the District 23 areas were long represented by Republican Jesse Stone, who was replaced in November 2020 by Republican Max Burns.

Moving forward, Emanuel will be in District 23 only. Therefore, citizens should lobby concerns to Burns and follow him on the senate floor for a look at how local representation is being executed.

With the proposed changes, District 23 will consist of Emanuel, Jenkins, Screven, Burke, Jefferson, Glascock, Warren, McDuffie, and Taliaferro.

Emanuel will remain in House District 158, represented by Republican Butch Parrish, in totality like in years prior. However, the make-up of District 158 will see changes to some degree.

Currently, District 158 consists of Emanuel, Jenkins, and parts of Candler and Bulloch. With the redistricting, District 158 will include Emanuel, all of Candler, part of Bulloch, and a new area, all of Treutlen.

These redistricting changes were made necessary because of the latest census and the upcoming election cycle.

In coordination with the 2020 Census, all states in the U.S. must modify their boundary lines of statewide districts ahead of the 2022 election cycle. These modifications should reflect each state’s growth and the number of people in each legislative and congressional district so the population in each is as close to equal as possible.

According to the latest census numbers, Georgia’s resident population reached almost 11,000,000 people. The state as a whole grew by approximately 1,000,000 new residents over the last 10 years, an increase of more than 10 percent since the last census a decade ago. As a result, Georgia’s 14 congressional districts needed to be adjusted to have 765,136 people in each district. At the state level, all 56 state senate districts have been redrawn to include approximately 191,284 people, and all 180 state house districts have been increased to approximately 59,511 people.

As the house and senate worked to redraw their respective maps based on the new population, they considered other requirements, like compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, ensuring that communities of interest are represented, avoiding major changes to the existing representation in the legislature, and keeping local government jurisdictions whole.

While each state had its own way of redrawing the maps, in Georgia, the state legislature creates new district maps through the legislative process. Committees in both the house and senate work with the nonpartisan Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office to update these maps. This is a process that began as early as this summer with the House and Senate Reapportionment Committees preparing for a special legislative session by holding town hall hearings across the state as well as virtually to gather testimony directly from Georgia’s citizens about how the redistricting process and their current district lines impact their communities.

During these 11 joint public hearings, the committees heard from more than 300 speakers and received 22 hours of testimony. These meetings were live streamed to the public and archived on the House website. The committees also launched an online portal for Georgians to voice their thoughts, opinions, and concerns about this process.

The house and the senate voted to approve the proposed district changes on November 15. All that remains is for Governor Brian Kemp to sign the two bills into law, which should take place in the near future.

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