Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

February 24, 2013

Three decades later, individuals recall changing the area’s voting system

VALDOSTA — Thirty years ago, Valdosta had 20-plus miles of dirt roads predominantly in black neighborhoods, no black representation on City Council, County Commission, or the school boards, and the black community faced a city plan to close a fire station on the south side of town.

In the early 1980s, there was no James M. Beck Overpass bridging the railroad that separates the north and south sides of town, which was once the traditional divide of white and black Valdosta respectively. Then, if the station closed, a slow-moving or stopped train would cut off the southside from fire protection.

With no black members on City Council and an election system that made voting for a black council member almost impossible, some in Valdosta’s African-American community felt as cut off from city government as the southside would be cut off from fire protection if the fire station closed.

At the time, all Valdosta City Council members were elected at-large, meaning whoever received the most votes filled the council seats. With all of Valdosta able to vote for its representatives, each of the council members arguably represented all of Valdosta. But with all of the council members being white and living in the northside of town, the southside’s black population felt their interests weren’t being represented.

And under the at-large system, the black community found it nearly impossible to elect an African-American council member. There had been the exceptions. Ruth Council had been appointed to an at-large City Council position then was elected to a term as the lone African-American council member under the at-large system, and Clayton Barron had been appointed to a term on the Valdosta Board of Education, but these situations were more anomalies rather than a trend of electing more African-Americans to office via the at-large system.

Text Only
Local News
  • ARociewilliams_002.jpg Woman shares nearly a century of lessons

    With nearly 100 years of life under her belt, Ocie Viola Williams has plenty of advice to share with the world. Her top two pieces of advice: know the importance of education and don’t expect a teacher to raise your child for you. 

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • psst1 photo page copy.jpg PSST! finishes peachy season

    Peach State Summer Theatre concluded its 2014 season Sunday, a season which broke attendance records for the professional musical theatre company.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_2381.jpeg Award-winning young professionals share success secrets

    The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber’s MetroOne Young Professionals hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday at the Hilton Garden Inn to highlight successful business practices.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140726_summerlibrary002.jpg Library celebrates end of summer reading program

    With the first day of school just around the corner, students are soaking in the last few weeks of summer vacation. The end of summer also means the end of the South Georgia Regional Library’s 2014 summer reading program.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • artseason1 copy.jpg A sneak peek at some area arts organizations’ 2014-15 seasons

    Beethoven. Tennessee Williams. Non-stop art. Two versions of “The Wizard of Oz.” The 2014-15 arts season is coming.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • sabalmap.jpg Sabal Trail explains its position

    Representatives from Sabal Trail Transmission recently sat down with The Times to provide an update on the ongoing pipeline and potential economic development opportunities associated with the project.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072514-MoodyComp007.jpg Moody AFB crews race in load competition

    Moody Air Force Base hosted a weapons load competition Friday morning, a maintenance group tradition in which two 23d Maintenance Group A-10 munition load crews raced against the clock to load munitions onto an A-10C Thunderbolt II.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • moonshine bust.jpg Police close illegal drinking house

    After receiving numerous complaints, the Valdosta Police Department shut down an illegal alcohol sales operation Friday.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • election.jpg Black earns most votes in runoff

    State Rep. Ellis Black led the votes for state Senate District 8 Friday with seven of seven counties reporting certified results, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140724-LAT1.jpg Little Actors Theatre ready for summer show

    Since 2004, the Little Actors Theatre has provided a place for children ages 6 to 19 to express themselves through acting.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results