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
  • 142314-Goodwill.jpg Goodwill hosts the Mexican Consulate

    Mexican citizens living in South Georgia have spent this week lining up at the Valdosta Goodwill to meet with the Mexican Consulate to obtain Mexican government issued identification.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140723-Tree001.jpg Chamber plants 100th centennial tree

    Founded in September 1912, the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest chambers in the state.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140723 - Operation M#10E3C7.JPG Veterans First

    With Moody Air Force Base expecting to lose 300 to 400 personnel due to government cutbacks, area organizations are working with military personnel about to enter the civilian work force.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Lowndes increases millage rate

    For the first time since 1999, the Lowndes County Commission voted Wednesday to increase the millage rate.

    July 24, 2014

  • dui memorial 1.jpg Memorial honors woman killed in DUI case

    More than a week after the man responsible for her death was sentenced to five years in jail, a memorial sign has been placed at the site where Sheila Foster-Lamb was hit and killed by an impaired driver while she was on her way to work.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • City of Valdosta holds two millage hearings today

    The City of Valdosta adopted its 2015 Fiscal Year budget on June 19.

    July 24, 2014

  • Quitman body identified

    The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has identified the body of a man found in Quitman Tuesday and have ruled his death a suicide.

    July 24, 2014

  • EOM July 2014.jpg Sgt. Jonathan Yeargin Honored as July 2014 Employee of the Month

    Valdosta Mayor John Gayle and Fire Chief Freddie Broome honored Jonathan Yeargin as the July 2014 Employee of the Month at the July 10 City Council meeting.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clay Griner.jpeg Griner wins Lowndes commission runoff

    A long nine-week runoff election between Clay Griner and G. Norman Bennett came to an end Tuesday night with Griner beating Bennett by 1,060 votes, with approximately 70 provisional ballots left to count.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140722-Runoff_Voting003.jpg State Senate District 8 too close to call

    The race for State Senate District 8 appeared too close to call as of The Times print deadline late Tuesday night.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

School starts again in about two weeks. What do you think?

It's still summer. School starts too soon.
Seems like the right time to return.
Abolish summer recess. Make school year-round.
     View Results