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Maps up for change
Lawmakers pleased with district lines
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State lawmakers representing Dawson County said earlier this week they were pleased with the proposed House and Senate districts.

"It couldn't be better if I had drawn it myself," said District 9 Rep. Amos Amerson on Tuesday morning.

State Sen. Steve Gooch, whose District 51 includes all of Dawson, called the proposed districts "fair and well planned."

The state House and Senate are meeting this week to discuss the maps. Public hearings will also be held.

Once the state legislature has approved the final versions, the maps must still pass through Congress and the U.S. Department of Justice.

As is the case every decade, the districts are being redrawn to match changes in population as determined by the 2010 U.S. Census.

Dawson has grown nearly 40 percent between 2000 and 2010, with a current population of about 22,330. That's up from about 16,004 in 2000.

To comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Georgia Legislature's proposed House and Senate maps feature districts based on population.

On the House map, each district has between 53,287 and 54,352 people. The Senate map has populations that must range between 171,350 and 174,530.

Amerson, a Dahlonega Republican, currently represents part of Dawson, most of Lumpkin and some of northeastern Forsyth near Lake Lanier.

The proposed district map shifts the Forsyth section into District 26 and draws in an area of northeastern Hall.

"The new 9th District was drawn to meet the future needs of Dawson and Lumpkin counties," Amerson said. "I believe we have a lot in common, more in common than we do with Forsyth County."

Amerson, who has announced he won't seek re-election next year, said he is confident his successor will find the new district stable.

"These districts will be good for the next 10 years," he said.

If approved as submitted, the new-look District 9 would include more of Dawson, which would be pulled from House Speaker David Ralston's District 7.

Ralson's current district includes all of Fannin and Gilmer counties and the most northern part of Dawson.

The new lines would bring the southernmost part of District 7, near the Emma community, into District 9.

Ralston would continue to represent north Dawson, from Big Canoe on the west to Lumpkin County on the eastside near Wesley Chapel.

While state Senate District 51 appears to have grown faster than other areas of north Georgia, Steve Gooch's district likely will experience the least amount of change.

Gooch would still represent all of Dawson, Gilmer, Lumpkin, White, Fannin and Union counties, shedding only a little of Forsyth and the western half of Pickens County.

"I hate to lose any of my district, but I just grew faster than the average," the Dahlonega Republican said. "But I was very glad to see that I would stay in Forsyth County.

"I regret losing part of Pickens County, but I'll continue to work with them."

Amerson said he hoped his constituents were happy "because I took into account everything that everyone has told me."

Dawson's population increase also will mean changes to the district lines for county commission and school board posts.

Amerson said he planned to present the local legislation to change the districts during today's session.

DCN regional staff reports contributed to this article.