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Former candidate Wilkerson: Fayette must move to district voting

How much longer can the two main governing bodies of Fayette County (County Commission and School Board) pretend to be living on an island? As much as our leaders try to ignore it and convince us likewise, Fayette does not exist on an island unto itself. Actually, the School Board has done a far superior job than the County Commission in governing as part of a much larger society than just the island of Fayette. However, this cannot be said of the County Commission.

The newly seated commission is bickering about the West Fayetteville Bypass and whether Fayette citizens should approve the 1 cent regional transportation tax. Both of these issues are “forward” thinking issues since they propose to address problems before they become insurmountable. One need only look to the west to see the traffic log jam that exists over in Coweta County from governing leadership that did not act to put in the proper infrastructure to support the growth that has occurred in my former hometown. Is that what the citizens of Fayette want to leave as a legacy for their children and grandchildren? I don’t think so.

But this article is not just about “forward” thinking on much needed transportation improvements, it is really about the failure of the County Commission and the School Board to Fast Forward Fayette to the 21st century and agree to elect local representatives in district voting instead of at-large voting.

It’s disappointing that the Tea Party activists don’t see how important this issue is and grab hold of it since it is so reminiscent of the original Boston Tea Party movement resulting from “taxation without representation.”

At-large voting in Fayette was an acceptable form of electing local representatives when the county had a population of 29,000 back in 1980 (data taken from County Commission website Fayette County Facts). It was reasonable for a 5-person commission and school board to be able to fairly represent and be in touch with about 6,000 residents each. But that is not the case today.

Based on data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the population in Fayette from the 2010 census is over 105,000 persons. That means that each member of the Commission or the School Board is attempting to represent over 20,000 people. Talk about a living example of “taxation without representation.”

There is a large contingent of the Fayette population who has little to no contact with their elected commissioner or school board member since they are elected “at-large” by every single voter in the county. The commissioners claim this makes them accountable to everyone, when in fact they are accountable to no one. Example: remember the punishment that fellow commissioners handed out to current Commissioner Horgan after his brush with the law in 2009.

It is past time for the leaders of the two main governing bodies in this county of over 105,000 persons to Fast Forward Fayette and stop objecting to the move and call for district voting.

Isn’t it interesting that the City Council of Peachtree City got it right when they were first formulated and instituted district voting? Is district voting good enough for the citizens of Peachtree City but not for those of Fayette County as a whole?

Maybe our elected Fayette delegation to the Georgia legislature will have the leadership courage to lead us where our local leaders are too selfish to go.

Emory Wilkerson

Fayetteville, Ga.

[Attorney Emory Wilkerson ran against and lost to incumbent Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam in the July 2010 Democratic Party primary.]



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