Clermont approved changes to its charter that would divide the town into four voting wards.
The Town Council passed three motions at its meeting Thursday night, one approving the new district map, another approving changes to the charter and a third agreeing to send the changes to the state legislature through Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, whose district includes Clermont.
“This is a resolution to authorize a General Assembly on behalf of the town of Clermont, Ga., to adopt a new town charter for the town of Clermont, Ga., and replace the old town charter, the charter approved on April 5, 1994,” said Mayor James Nix.
Nix said the council had been working on the map for several months, and it was approved unanimously. But new Councilman Eric Thomas, who was sworn in Thursday, voted against the new charter and the resolution to send it and the map to state legislators.
Thomas previously told the Times he had concerns about having an even number of wards and an even number of council members, which could result in more chances for a tie vote.
The move to establish voting wards is an attempt to avoid a scenario where all council members are elected from a single neighborhood or subdivision.
Previously, council members were elected by the entire town, a practice that won’t change with the new charter.
Instead, four of the five council members will have to live in a specific ward, while one council member and the mayor will be elected at large and can live anywhere in the town.
The state legislature’s approval is required for the voting ward map to take effect.
“This is the resolution that has to go to the General Assembly, along with all the other things we’ve got,” Nix said.
Once approved, the new wards and map would be in place by January 2018. The legislature’s 2015 session starts in January.