Census data being used to review changes to Savannah’s districts

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 3:48 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah’s population has grown and shifted over the past 10 years according to the latest Census data.

And as that happens, it’s up to City leaders to look at district lines to make sure there’s equal representation and population in each.

Savannah City Council started the conversation with the director of the Metropolitan Planning Commission to talk about how district lines will likely need to change in the coming years.

The MPC is coming in to help just like they did with the County and school system, serving as an impartial party to crunch the new population numbers and help City Council through the redistricting process.

“It is often a very difficult process because people get used to their districts. They get used to who they serve. And people get used to who serves them,” said Mayor Van Johnson.

Mayor Johnson pointed out all of Savannah’s six districts will change, some more than others.

The latest Census data revealed the most substantial growth is in Savannah’s 1st district, which encompasses portions of Savannah’s west and north west areas.

The 1st district’s population went up by around 8,600 people. The population in Savannah’s 2nd district was the only to actually lose residents between 2010 and 2020.

No matter the growth, or lack thereof, each district has to hit a magic number to reach a balance city-wide.

“24,630. So remember that number, 24,630,” said MPC Executive Director Melanie Wilson.

Wilson explained the City has what’s called home rule, which makes the redistricting process different for them versus their counterparts at the County.

“You all will vote on the final maps. It does not have to be sent to the general assembly, unlike the County. They have to go through, and the school board, they have to go through the legislature.”

Wilson told Council members one thing they’ll have to work with the Board of Elections on this Census cycle that they didn’t have to last time, is looking at possibly tweaking voting precinct districts for voters as well.

Mayor Johnson did point out that, no matter how the district lines change, council members will represent the constituents who voted them in for this term until the end of next year when their term expires.

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