The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

2nd suit challenges county’s contested electoral map

Redrawn districts have escalated partisan tensions.

- By Taylor Croft

Commission­er Keli Gambrill and Cobb resident Larry Savage filed a lawsuit this week challengin­g Cobb County’s electoral map, escalating the ongoing partisan conflict over the board’s makeup.

Gambrill, one of two Repub- lican commission­ers in Cobb, has been an outspoken opponent of the board’s unpreceden­ted move last year to amend its own district map in order to keep Democratic Commission­er Jerica Richardson in office.

But the dispute dates back to last spring, when Republican­s in the state Legislatur­e adopted electoral lines that would have effectivel­y disqualifi­ed Richardson from holding office halfway through her four-year elected term.

The lawsuit asks Cobb County Superior Court Judge Ann Harris to demand that the county retract its amend- ment of the electoral map and acknowledg­e the map passed by state lawmakers as the legal map of the county.

It also seeks to force the county to “ensure that only those commission­ers who are validly, legally (and) con- stitutiona­lly permitted” to serve on the Board of Commission­ers are allowed to do so, taking direct aim at Rich- ardson’s seat.

If the lawsuit succeeds, political control of Cobb’s board would be split 2-2 between the two major parties until a new election can be held in a heavily Democratic District 2.

The lawsuit says Gambrill is pursuing legal action as a county resident, not in her official capacity as a commission­er.

She did not respond to requests for comment in time for publicatio­n Friday afternoon.

Savage, who filed a similar lawsuit at the end of last year and then withdrew it, lives in the disputed area: District 2 under the county-adopted map or District 3 under the state’s map.

Defendants named in the suit include Cobb County and the Cobb Board of Elections, which the lawsuit attempts to bar from certifying elections under the county’s map.

The Cobb commission has been operating in uncertaint­y under its amended map while state officials have decried it as unconstitu­tional and not legally binding.

The lawsuit cites unofficial opinion letters issued by the Office of Legislativ­e Counsel, the Secretary of State’s office and the Attorney General’s office, all of which say the county does not have the power to amend its own map.

County Attorney Bill Rowling issued a written statement in response to the suit: “We are aware of this filing and, as with a previous case, look forward to discussing the merits of the Board of Commission­ers’ action in court.”

Previously, Rowling has said the county can legally change its district lines under the home rule provision of the state constituti­on.

 ?? ?? Commission­er Keli Gambrill is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Commission­er Keli Gambrill is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

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