CONYERS -- Rockdale County residents will have a chance to have their say on Georgia's upcoming reapportionment of state legislative and congressional districts with a town hall meeting to be held in Stockbridge.
The first of the 12 hearings by the State House and Senate Joint Redistricting Committee got under way two weeks ago in Athens, Augusta, Albany, Savannah and Valdosta.
Seven town hall meetings remain scheduled for June before the Georgia General Assembly calls a special session on reapportionment sometime in August.
The town hall meeting nearest to Rockdale and Newton counties is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, at the Merle Manders Conference Center in Stockbridge.
State legislators are holding the town hall meetings to give residents an opportunity to have their voices heard before lawmakers take up reapportionment, in which they will redraw congressional and legislative district lines to conform to new U.S. Census data.
Redrawing district lines has become a hot topic among Rockdale County residents. The current district lines have Rockdale County -- the second smallest county land-wise in the state -- represented by four state House representatives and two state senators. Of the state delegation, only Pam Dickerson (D-Conyers) lives in Rockdale, though her district also includes portions of Gwinnett and Newton counties.
The Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce and several Conyers city officials have stated that the current make up of state representatives dilutes the county's voice in the state Legislature since the majority of those districts are in DeKalb and Newton counties.
The chamber has made it a goal to redraw Rockdale County completely into a single House district as has the Republican Party of Rockdale County.
At the first town hall meeting held on May 16 in Athens, the first speakers told lawmakers that Rockdale County has been unfairly lumped in with urban DeKalb County.
Others have argued that reducing the number of state representatives could hurt the county. Fred Whitt, a member of the Democratic Party of Rockdale County, said before the Board of Commissioners and in a letter to the editor to the Rockdale Citizen that Rockdale is historically tied to DeKalb in many ways and that having four votes in the state House is better than having one.
Whitt noted that having multiple state representatives is nothing new to Rockdale County. Rockdale had three state House districts in 1982.
"I do not see the disadvantage for Rockdale County either in 1982 or in 2010," Whitt said. "Rockdale County has approximately 85,000 residents and has four votes."
The Merle Manders Conference Center is located at 111 Davis Road in Stockbridge. From Conyers, take Ga. Highway 138 South and after crossing over the Gen. Ray Davis Bridge in downtown Stockbridge, turn right onto Burke Street. The conference center is located at the corner of Burke Street and Davis Road.
For more information, go to www.mmccevents.com or call 770-389-5982.
Also, the State House and Senate Joint Redistricting Committee provides calendar listing, video of previous town hall meetings and general information on reapportionment at its Web site, http://www1.legis.ga.gov/legis/2011_12/house/Committees/reapportionment/gahlcr.htm.