“Redistricting can affect the officeholder, but it doesn’t affect the office, and the Webster’s Dictionary from that time has a separate definition for officeholder,” Monyak said. “If the framers and the people had wanted to broaden the exclusion to encompass matters that affect the candidate or the incumbent, they could have done so, but they didn’t. It was matters affecting ‘elective county office,’ not matters affecting public officials.”
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr also disagrees.
In a new amicus brief filed Monday morning, Carr argued that changing who can vote for the office’s position — namely who resides in that officeholder’s district — does affect the elective office and is therefore prohibited.
“Which and whether citizens are eligible to vote in an election is a fundamental procedure for election, and the county’s action violates this provision,” Carr wrote.
The arguments continued for nearly three hours, and Judge Harris complimented the attorneys’ extensive work.
“It may have seemed like it took forever to get to this point, but if you’re not a lawyer, you have no idea the complex issues here,” the judge said at the end of the hearing.
The board’s conflict over the map has been ongoing since the county voted to amend the map in fall 2022. Since then, several lawsuits have been filed and the conflict has only escalated.
After filing several iterations of the lawsuit, Republican Commissioner Keli Gambrill was removed as a plaintiff for lack of standing, in part because she used her position as a commissioner in her arguments.
Richardson, Gambrill and Commissioner JoAnn Birrell all attended the hearing alongside several community members who have spoken at county meetings both for and against the county’s decision.
The conflict reached new heights when the new map went into effect in January: the board’s two Republicans, Gambrill and Birrell, refused to vote on any county business and were asked to step down from the dais. Since then, they have protested the county’s map at commission meetings by issuing statements of opposition prior to voting on any items.
Smith, attorney for the plaintiffs, was indicted on racketeering charges and 11 other counts related to former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia earlier this year, but that has not appeared to impact his position in the Cobb County lawsuit.
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