By John Schaffner
johnschaffner@reporternewspapers.net

Rep. Ed Lindsey

Redistricting will be a major issue in 2011, predicts state Rep. Edward Lindsey (Dist. 54) who urged the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods to form a committee to help the organization stay on top of possible changes in representation for Buckhead in the Legislature and in Congress.

Lindsey, who represents a large portion of Buckhead and a small portion of Sandy Springs, didn’t suggest the organization needs to do any particular lobbying for representation, but said it can be expected that district lines will be redrawn for the state House and Senate and also Congress.

When BCN president Jim King asked, “How do we get the most effective representation for Buckhead?” Lindsey responded, “Now is the time. Appoint a committee to keep track of the process.”

The BCN board voted to constitute a committee to study redistricting.

Of the four state legislators representing Buckhead who were invited to speak at the Dec. 9 BCN board meeting, Lindsey is the only Republican.

The three Democrats who represent Buckhead in the Legislature are Dist. 53 Rep. Elly Dobbs , Dist. 39 Sen. Vincent Fort and Dist. 38 Sen. Horacena Tate.

Dobbs and Fort also participated in the BCN meeting, which was designed for the representatives to discuss their views on major issues due to come before the General Assembly next year. Tate did not attend.

Lindsey predicted it will be “a tough session in terms of the economy.” He said there likely will be a revenue shortfall of possibly $1 billion and the state is required by law not to spend more than the revenues expected to be raised.

‘We are looking at some very tough decisions,” Lindsey said. “My vision is to take care of the essentials first—education and infrastructure.”

He said the transportation bill that calls for a referendum in August 2011 “is going to have to be tweaked further to get something that will pass. It is imperative that we put together a good list of projects so it will pass.”

On the topic of education, Lindsey said, “We have made some progress, but have a long way yet to go. If kids come from a poor family they have about a 50 percent chance of graduating. Pre-K has a long way to go. We need to reinvigorate the technical school programs.”

Dobbs, in her second term in the House, said, “There is a huge hole to fill in the budget. The governor may want to re-look at the tobacco tax.”

On transportation, Dobbs said MARTA is a major issue for Fulton and DeKalb counties. “Fulton would like to have changes [in the way the system is funded], but it likely will not happen,” she said.

Fort said there needs to be a change in the way MARTA is funded because the 1-cent tax for transportation cannot be used by MARTA for operational costs. But, he said, “odds are that nothing will be done on transportation this year.”

She said she if interested in the issue of doubling the size of the Savannah Port, because the cargo will have to be moved by trucks through our urban areas, including Atlanta.

“I am concerned the focus will be issues around Atlanta and not looking at the big state issues,” Dobbs said.