Redistricting house rules will stand, for now: Cupid

Oct. 28—MARIETTA — Until further notice, Jerica Richardson will remain a serving member of the Cobb Board of Commissioners.

That’s according to President Lisa Cupid, who told the Kiwanis Club of Marietta on Thursday that the steps taken at a contentious meeting this week to reverse the county’s redistricting by the General Assembly will stand.

In a heated meeting Tuesday night, Democratic members of the Board of Commissioners voted to invoke the county’s “bylaws” powers and effectively redistrict the county themselves. The measure was the council’s long-awaited response after Republican lawmakers removed Richardson from his seat earlier this year in a card signed by Gov. Brian Kemp.

Otherwise, Richardson would have been forced out of her seat on Jan. 1 when the Republican maps go into effect. The map adopted by the council keeps Richardson in its District 2.

Responding to a question from Alice Summerour, a member of the county’s SPLOST Citizens’ Watch Committee, Cupid said the council’s actions stand for now.

“So if there’s no further action on our action, it can continue to stay,” Cupid said. “…If this ends up in the court system, things can change. And what happens to him will depend on when it happens.”

And ending up in court is almost certain, Richardson and legal observers said, with Republican officials in the state likely to challenge Cobb’s rulings.

After her speech, Cupid told the MDJ that she hadn’t heard anything about what the state might do or when. A spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office, where the new map will be filed, did not respond to a request for comment.

But Cupid, herself an attorney, said she was confident the county’s action was not intended to “raise false hope”.

“I don’t want to cite specifics, but … I’m satisfied, based on the backgrounds and experiences of those who serve in our county attorney’s office, that they would not have advanced this unless they felt like it was a new area, an area that hadn’t been touched on,” she said.

A General Assembly attorney wrote in a memo that the county was overwhelmed by the issue and had “no constitutional authority” to execute the redistricting. Cupid said those counterarguments were considered before the council moved forward.

“I’m not a judge. I can’t tell you what the outcome will be, but I felt pretty good after going through the legal documents that this was an opportunity. We’re not here to waste the court’s time.” , she says.

Transit tax

The other issue raised before the board this week is Cobb’s failed attempts to expand public transit through a sales tax referendum.

After an initial effort to get a referendum off the ground earlier this year, Cupid now plans to relaunch the process and push for a vote in 2024.

“I realized we needed to take a step back. Even though I’ve been on the council for 10 years, we’ve had new commissioners come to our council and they really needed to have a stronger voice on the way this project was moving forward,” she said.

Some of his board colleagues — and Cobb’s mayors — have favored a five-year sales tax with limited focus on surface improvements like intersections, trails and sidewalks.

But Cupid was the main advocate on the board for a larger, heavy-duty mass transit package that would last 30 years. His persistent argument has been that putting a five-year option on the ballot first would condemn the 30-year tax.

“Who’s going to vote to be double-taxed on transportation in two election cycles?” she told the MDJ on Thursday. “You could put them (on the ballot) simultaneously. That’s more bearable for me than putting the fives before the 30s.”

Cupid added that there are also ways to fit both types of projects into a 30-year-old package. State law, she said, allows such road projects such as intersection improvements and the like to be included in a transit pass if they “make it easier to access transportation by common”.

“There’s always going to be this thought, we’re going to increment our way to get to where we need to be. But incrementally, you don’t transfer those dollars to get to a big project. You use them on small projects,” she says. “…I just think it kicks the box for considering something transformative.”

Comments are closed.