Our network

Fayette Co Commissioner Dies in term | News

Title (Max 100 Characters)

Fayette Co Commissioner Dies in term

FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. -- Pota Coston was the first African American elected to the Fayette County Commission. Her battle with cancer began the same month she took office this year. She died on Friday.

As the county looks ahead some worry about how she will be replaced. At the first meeting since her death, neighbors are worried the new found diversity they've seen on the commission will die with her. They even went so far to declare how she'll be replaced "unfair" and "potentially discriminatory."

Flowers placed above Coston's seat on the board weren't the only tribute Thursday night. Protest signs called for commissioners to replace her seat in the same way she was elected: with district voting.

"I'm in support of district voting because I live in a diverse community ,and I want that diverse community to be reflected in my county commission," said Irene Shane.

In district voting people who live in an area vote for their own area commissioner.

A lawsuit filed against the county by the NAACP led to district voting. Then came an appeal. While the case makes it way back through court Fayette County returns to At Large voting where the entire county chooses its commissioners as a whole.

"Unfortunately when Pota Coston passed away less than a year in to her term, We've now had to start making a bunch of decisions on short notice," said Commissioner Steve Brown.

"Any attempt to try to turn back the clock, to do a U-turn if you will, at district versus at large elections is inappropiate," said Wayne Kendall.

Many feel it is inappropriate because the at large area is predominately white. They fear the next official to take the seat will be white as well, leaving no diversity on the commission.

"We've had African Americans elected in Fayette County before in city and magistrate court elections. It's not like that hasn't happened before," Brown said.

"City elections yes. No county wide elections where there has been a white challenger has a black person won against a white challenger," Kendall argued.

The next scheduled election is in November but the county must act before they to fill her position. How quickly the case moves through appeals court could determine districts versus at large voting.

Coston's funeral is on Saturday.