Shannon Whitfield

As Walker County prepares to switch its form of government from a sole commissioner to a five-person board, officials are starting the task of preparing residents for the change.

Nearly 40,000 residents will soon receive an informational mailing from the Walker County Elections Office identifying their new voting precinct. The county's first board of commissioners will be elected in November 2020 and will consist of one full-time chairperson and one part-time member from each of the districts.

Following residents' vote in support of the new model in 2018, the state of Georgia's Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office redrew the four districts — Rossville, Chickamauga, LaFayette and Lookout Mountain — attempting to make the population of each equal, according to a spokesperson from the local elections office.

The precinct cards being mailed also identify each voter's congressional, Senate, House and judicial districts, as well as where they can vote. Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield allocated $15,447.60 toward postage for these cards at the routine commissioner's meeting on Sept. 24.

It was only the second amendment to the 2019 budget, which ended Sept. 30.

"This shows how hard each department and its elected official has worked to stay within their budget," Whitfield said at the meeting.

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The Georgia Transparency Coalition and the Wilson Road Neighborhood Group are co-sponsoring a free public forum on how the new five-commissioner board will work. To be held Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Union Avenue Church, the meeting includes an opportunity for declared candidates to speak. The church is at 616 Union Ave. in Rossville.

He approved the expense at the request of the election board. Sending out the cards will be an "investment" for the county, said Whitfield, and will save elections staff time down the line.

"We didn't realize the election office would need to mail each registered voter in Walker County a new voter register ID card," he said of the need for the budget amendment. "Everyone needed to know what district they were zoned."

The first ballot for the board of commissioners will be during the primary on May 19, 2020.

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