The final word to go with the new redistricting maps was given to the Cherokee County elections supervisor late Tuesday afternoon, the final hour for the maps to be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice before qualifying.
Elections official Janet Munda said she was excited to see both maps approved, “just because it gives clarity” to declared and potential candidates, she said.
As is legally required, the Justice Department must preclear any changes to district maps. The Cherokee Delegation was called to make the changes based on 2010 Census data.
However, House Bill 978 not only changes the post lines, it also changes the structure of the school board.
Under the new legislation, the school board will change from seven countywide elected board members with a chair selected by the board to six board members elected within their post and one countywide elected at-large chair.
The bill was signed by Gov. Nathan Deal the penultimate day of the legislative session, leaving a smaller window of time for school board attorney Tom Roach to submit redistricting paperwork for the maps and have it OK’d by the Department of Justice, which he said typically takes 60 days.
Munda said she learned Monday that the county commission maps were approved May 17. However, the board of education maps had not been precleared.
Roach said at Thursday’s school board meeting that all pre-clearance for Cherokee County district maps was expected to be received this week either Monday or Tuesday, despite the fact that the U.S. Department of Justice had to approve about 2,700 new maps.
With the confirmed preclearance, announced candidates school board Vice Chairwoman Janet Read and her opponent, Danny Dukes, can now run for the newly created countywide chair seat. Kelly Marlow and Kyla Cromer have both announced they will be contenders for the new Post 1 seat and Kim Cochran will run for Post 2, which has yet to draw an opponent.
Board Chairman Mike Chapman, who like Read was drawn out of his current district under the new maps, has not announced his candidacy for any other elected position.
Throughout the 2012 General Assembly, Chapman sent letters on behalf of the school board to Deal calling the local delegation’s maps gerrymandering, with the leader of the national school accrediting council authoring similar protests to the governor.