I appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight on Senate Bill 378.
Representative Holcomb finally dropped his ‘eliminate the CEO and redraw commission lines bill’ several weeks into the session.
Soon thereafter Senate Democratic Minority Leader Henson said verbally and in print that Representative Holcomb’s local bill was unlikely to advance.
I was not totally surprised by this development because for the past decade nothing has happened to eliminate the CEO position. Furthermore, I didn’t like several of the provisions in Representative Holcomb’s bill.
Therefore, to continue the process, I dropped my general bill (SB 378) on Tuesday and it was passed out of the State and Local Government committee that afternoon. At the hearing on the bill, I indicated I was willing to entertain amendments to the bill.
Ten days later my bill went to the Senate floor and it passed 36-15.
I never received any input from the Senate members of the DeKalb delegation. Instead two alternative commission maps were distributed by Senate Democratic Minority Leader Henson. One map looked like a collection of serpents and the other map put several commissioners in the same district (as did mine).
In advance of presenting my bill, I spoke with several commissioners and told them I was willing to take changes to the three South DeKalb districts. I relayed this information to DeKalb House Chair Mosby as well. Finally, I did credit Representative Holcomb for his work.
There are seven commission districts in my map. When we did the statewide school board legislation, it was determined this was the maximum number of members for efficiency. Holcomb’s bill has eight.
My map has four majority African-American districts with the black district population ranging from 61 to 92 percent. Four out of seven commission districts majority African-American reflects our county demographics.
Like Holcomb’s bill this legislation eliminated the CEO and super district positions. However, unlike Holcomb’s, I do not have term limits for the commissioners.
The people vote on this measure in November, and if successful, the changes take place Jan. 1, 2019 (Holcomb’s date 2021). The proposed Charter Commission is scheduled to complete its work in October 2017. Any changes could be adopted in the 2018 session.
The commission district lines are an attempt to follow communities of interest and transportation corridors. Also, for years I have heard of the need to revitalize Memorial Drive (Cynthia McKinney Parkway). This map creates a district for this area.
Bottom line, our Governor has said it is time to abolish the CEO position.
I also called Mike Thurmond, CEO candidate, and explained he could theoretically be CEO for two years and Chair for eight years. You do not create a form of government for an individual. Have we learned nothing?
Finally, I am willing to work with the House on the commission lines. I can assure you what was drawn was much fairer than when the Democrats controlled the General Assembly. I speak from personal experience.
Your thoughts and comments are welcome.
Senator Fran Millar