A lone GOP Georgia senator is attempting to roll back the significant gains made during last year’s election, which handed dominant control of his county’s nearly million residents to Democrats.
Sen. Clint Dixon’s latest manipulative (and racist) move is designed to increase commission seats, immobilize the county’s newly elected and first Black chairwoman, redraw districts, and convert the all-Dem school board to nonpartisan. Dixon claims there’s an urgent need to give Gwinnett residents more representation—something that no one seemed to care about when the GOP was in charge of the commission.
Dixon announced Senate Bills 5 EX and 6 EX on Nov. 8, and both bills received approval from the Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee.
According to reporting by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Democrats now command the county school board, hold every seat on the county commission and lead the sheriff’s department, the District Attorney’s office, and several other elected positions.”
Rep. Gregg Kennard calls Dixon’s attempt to add five commission seats, making it a 7-2 split favoring Democrats, a “whitelash” against Black residents in Gwinnett county.
These white Republicans had no issue with the configuration of our county government as long as it was white and Republican,” Kennard said in a press conference on Nov. 12.
“For 200 years since our county’s origin, we had nothing but white governmental leadership (and) we broke the color barrier in 2018 and really broke it in 2020,” Kennard said. “And, for certain white legislators to now try to reverse those elections is nothing more than—let’s call it what it is—a ‘whitelash.’
“It’s a white response to those elections that gave us elected officials of color,” Kennard said.
Gwinnett Democrats such as Rep. Jasmine Clark are furious about Dixon introducing the bills during a special legislative session.
“Black people running the Board of Education and Board of Commissioners does not constitute an emergency just because certain people don’t like it,” Clark said, according to the AJC.
According to Gwinnett Daily Post, Senate Bill 6 EX would expand the county commission from four districts and a chairperson to nine district seats and chairperson.
“In my personal opinion, this is a power grab,” Commissioner Kirkland Carden said. “This is a county represented by five Democrats, no Republicans.
“If you look at the partisan score (for the nine proposed districts), there is the ability that this would create two safe Republican seats (and) one is a potential swing if the election next year goes bad for Democrats.”
Dixon went on the defense Sunday via Twitter, saying his proposed bill regarding the school board is intended to “simply protect children from partisan politics,” claiming that the “radical left Democrats” are attacking him and his Republican colleagues and alleging his bills “have something to do with race and some kind of power grab.” Which he says is “simply false.”
He then goes on to announce that he’ll be adding another bill soon banning critical race theory in schools statewide to prevent students “from indoctrination from the far-left” and an end to “comprehensive sex ed.”
Redistricting or gerrymandering is a play Republicans live by, so it’s no big surprise this would be Dixon’s move. Who cares about burgeoning crime rates or expanding Medicaid to poor Georgians? In a state with a million new potential voters since 2010 (according to the recent census), redrawing districts is the necessary power play.
Every 10 years, state lawmakers draw state legislative and congressional districts to reflect population from the census. It gives the majority party the right to retain control and the minority party the chance to fight for its seats, knowing it lacks the votes in the General Assembly to help it.
Here’s a little gerrymandering background from the History Channel:
“In March 1812, the Boston Gazette ran a political cartoon depicting ‘a new species of monster’: ‘The Gerry-mander.’ The forked-tongue creature was shaped like a contorted Massachusetts voting district that the state’s Jeffersonian Republicans had drawn to benefit their own party. Governor (and future vice president) Elbridge Gerry signed off on his party’s redistricting plan in February, unwittingly cementing his place in the United States lexicon of underhanded political tricks.”
And, just like they did to Southern Black communities after the Civil War, Georgia Republicans today are trying to clump conservative communities together to build on their majorities.