“I thought I would show everybody what a crazy district I have by doing a half ironman-duathlon,” said Forster. “I just want to make a point that my district is huge now.”
Candidate qualifying opens June 19 with all of the state’s 180 House seats and 56 Senate seats up for grabs in this fall’s election.
Forster will officially kick off his campaign for a second term as District 3 representative June 29, departing Fort Oglethorpe City Hall at 7 a.m.
For the first leg of his trip, he will jog a 26-mile route down Battlefield Parkway to U.S. 41 into Ringgold, then down Ga. 2 through Whitfield County.
At the Murray County line, Forster will begin a 55-mile bike ride through Murray and Gilmer counties to Fannin County, where he will exchange the bicycle for an all-terrain vehicle. He will then ride another five miles, arriving about 5:15 p.m. at Blue Ridge Lake where he will host a campaign fundraising reception.
“I’m going to kick off my campaign with ‘Shape up Georgia Government — Vote Ron Forster’ and show everybody what the governor did to my district,” he said. “This map doesn’t properly represent the people of Georgia, and it’s something that’s got to be changed.”
Forster, 37, said he has been studying a triathlon manual to pace his regimen in preparation for the feat, which he estimates will take about 10 hours to complete. He has been training for the event at Gilbert-Stephenson Park in Fort Oglethorpe.
“I’m not looking to break any time records,” he said. “I’m just looking to complete the trip.”
reflect major changes
A 10-month wave of criticism and lawsuits resulted from the redrawn maps of Georgia’s House, Senate and congressional districts, initially approved in last August’s special redistricting session of the state General Assembly.
Much of the opposition stemmed from allegations the maps violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which stipulates communities of interest should be kept together to maintain their voting strength.
Following federal court-ordered revisions to the maps, a Washington court approved the state’s House and Congress redistricting maps April 5. The court ruled that some districts in the state’s proposed Senate map reduced minority voting strength, forcing the legislature to hastily redraw the map, which gained unanimous approval by the three-judge panel June 3.
District 3 encompassed mainly Catoosa County prior to last year’s redistricting process. Although Forster submitted plans at the session to keep the district’s boundaries as they were, the district was stretched to also encompass sections of Whitfield, Murray, Gilmer and Fannin counties.
Forster, who will occupy the District’s post 1 in Catoosa and Whitfield County, will share the district with a representative in post 2, which contains Murray, Gilmer and Fannin counties.
“The governor came out with a multi-member districting of the state of Georgia that we haven’t done for 30 years or more because it diluted the black vote and was considered racial discrimination,” Forster said. “The reason he brought it back was to dilute the Republican vote and gerrymander around to try to concentrate Republican areas.”
Forster supports Jack White as a candidate for the second district post, he said. White, who is running for the office for the first time, is a retired Air Force officer with 30 years of experience.
“I’ve talked with him and he’s a good guy,” Forster said. “I’m supporting him in his race and we’re sort of running (for election) as a team.“
The district’s two elected representatives will share duties in representing the five counties, Forster said.
“Given that there’s two posts, with it being a multi-member district, doesn’t necessarily mean he has that half and I have this half,” Forster said. “We both cover the full district, but common sense shows I’ll do Catoosa and Whitfield and he’ll do most everything in Murray, Fannin and Gilmer.”
Forster estimates the registered voter make-up of the revised district includes about 40 percent in Catoosa County, 23 percent in north Whitfield County, seven percent in north Murray, 11 percent in north Gilmer and 19 percent in Fannin County.
The state representative feels state officials need to be more accessible to their constituents, he said.
“Even if I don’t have an opponent, I’d like to get the information out to let people know what I stand for so they know who they’re voting for,” Forster said. “That’s always what I look for (in an elected official), somebody who will give me information, and that’s what I’ve tried to do these last two years.
“The legislative body has a lot of power,” he said. “That’s why people need to get out and vote, so they’re electing people who they can trust that power with.