Census: Minorities now the majority in Chatham County - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Census: Minorities now the majority in Chatham County

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Now that they have become a majority in Chatham County, minorities are being courted by both Republicans and Democrats.

According to the U.S. Census' American Community Survey, released Thursday, there are 131,121 non-Hispanic whites who live in Chatham County. Minorities – of African, Asian, Hispanic, Native American or Pacific Island descent – now have a sliver of majority, according to the Survey, with 139,313 non-white Chatham County residents.

Democratic Party Chairman, Will Claiborne, counts that as a win for his party.

"The Republican Party has done everything they can to really push away minority voters," Claiborne said in an interview Sunday.

Elizebeth Overton chairs the county's Republican Party and says that is not so. Overton is planning an August 15th meet-and-greet in Daffin Park, with the goal of giving minorities an opportunity to get to know the party.

"What we want is them to come and to listen and to see us as the same people they are," Overton said. "We all have families. We want the best America we can."

But Claiborne counters that Republicans have an uphill battle. Chatham County was turning blue before minorities became the majority.

"Fifty-seven percent voted for the President this last time through," Claiborne said. "And he didn't run a single ad here."

Overton and a group of Savannah Republicans are working to change that. The have started a website – enuff.org -- that aims to connect needy people with resources to empower themselves to get out of poverty.

"We are tired of people defining us, and we are going to do it, define ourselves by our actions," Overton said.

But, Claiborne claims Republican is becoming a dirty word in Savannah politics.

"Republicans in Chatham County have difficulty getting elected," Claiborne said. "And those who get elected are the ones that really play down their party credentials, and try to appear to be just Republicans in name only."

For Mariela Nemanic, a local advocate for Latino causes, the issues Chatham County faces are not red or blue anymore; nor are they black and white.

"They're gray," she said in a Sunday interview. "We like to call it beige."

Nemanic pointed at herself.

The biggest population increases Chatham County has seen over the past year have come from the Asian and Latino communities, according to the Census Bureau's survey.

Nemanic's hope is that more people from more backgrounds can help solve Savannah's stubborn problems; like poverty and crime.

"You bring in more viewpoints, maybe we will come up with a solution," she said.

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