Damon Cline’s announcement Monday that he intends to seek the Columbia County District 2 Commission seat might prove to be premature.
Cline soon might no longer live in that district.
New local commission and school board districts, currently awaiting approval by the state Legislature and the U.S. Justice Department, would place Cline’s Petersburg Station home inside District 1. Represented by Ron Thigpen, that seat won’t be up for election until 2014.
All voting maps are redrawn every 10 years to reflect the latest Census numbers. Columbia County’s district maps received local approval last fall.
Commissioners’ approval of a controversial “affordable housing” resolution used as part of project called Magnolia Trace on Old Ferry Road in Martinez prompted Cline to seek election to the commission.
“Columbia County needs a public watchdog,” Cline said in a press release announcing his campaign. “The actions of some county leaders indicate they have become out of touch with the wants and needs of the everyday people they are supposed to serve.”
Current District 2 Commissioner Trey Allen said he has known “for two months” that the area surrounding Magnolia Trace might not remain as part of District 2. He said he continued to work with constituents on the issue because it currently is in his district.
Allen and two other current commissioners approved a June 2010 resolution favoring “affordable housing,” and that resolution was used by the private developer in an application seeking tax credits for the project from the state Department of Community Affairs.
The 50-unit rental development will be available to residents who meet income requirements.
“I could have just let him go and scare off any other challengers,” Allen said.
Instead, after having the Board of Elections office verify Cline’s home isn’t in District 2 under the new maps, Allen said he asked County Administrator Scott Johnson to notify Cline that his home will be in District 1.
Whether it be in District 2 this year, or District 1 in two years, Cline said he still intends to run for a commission seat.
“This isn’t about district lines,” he said Wednesday. “This is about putting a watchdog in county leadership.”
Packets typically given to those seeking elected office won’t be available for the redrawn districts until after Justice Department approval, county Board of Elections Director Deborah Marshall said Wednesday.
After that approval, the county’s 85,000 or so registered voters will receive new voter registration cards with updated voting district information.
Current voting precincts are being used for the March 6 Presidential Preference Primary, but the elections office is working on setting up precincts for the July 31 party primaries based on the assumption that the new districts will be approved long before then, Marshall said.