The Georgia House and Senate approved new political boundaries for their 236 members, beating back fiery opposition from Democrats who have vowed to challenge the new maps in court, and Bryan County now has a new House district, bringing its total to three.
Bryan County is currently served by state Rep. Jan Tankersley, R-Brooklet, in the north and Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, in the south. But the newly drawn political lines combine the southern most portion of the county with Chatham County in what is now House District 166.
Each chamber approved its own map on Thursday along mainly partisan lines. The House voted 108-64 in favor of its map, and the Senate approved its map by a vote of 35-18. It is the first time in Georgia that Republicans have controlled the redistricting process from start to finish.
The new Senate map makes no changes to Bryan County, which is in District 1 and is served by Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler.
Stephens loses two precincts in the southern half of South Bryan near Keller.
“I think it was an oversight by the reapportionment committee because we truly don’t need three representatives in the county,” Stephens said. “They try to group communities of interest together, but I think Bryan County needs to stay Bryan County, and it makes no sense for the representative in Richmond Hill not to have Keller and the southern part of (Hwy.) 144.”
Though Stephens was excused from the vote on Thursday, he said he agreed with the new district boundaries across the rest of the state.
“It does make sense when you look at the map, you don’t have long snake districts and it looks reasonable as opposed to two redistrictings ago,” he said. “Other than the minor tweaks with Bryan County, I’m pretty happy with it.”
The southern portion of Bryan County that Stephens lost will now be represented by Rep. Ben Watson, R-Savannah.
Read more in the Aug. 20 edition of the News.