Cobb delegation names bipartisan leadership team

Jan. 23—ATLANTA — After a contentious legislative session in 2022, the new chair of Cobb County's legislative delegation tried to shepherd them toward a more neighborly spirit for the year ahead.

In that effort, lawmakers elected a bipartisan slate to lead the delegation this session. State Rep. Teri Anulewicz, D-Smyrna, will serve as chair, while Rep. Devan Seabaugh, R-Marietta, will be vice chair. State Sen. Michael "Doc" Rhett will serve as secretary.

Those posts were adopted by acclamation on the recommendation of state Sen. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth.

In previous years, leadership has traditionally been made up by the majority party of the delegation — state Rep. David Wilkerson, D-Powder Springs, said he couldn't recall a member of the minority party (within the delegation) being named vice chair.

Democrats continue to hold a one-vote majority among the 20-member delegation, which includes 14 state representatives and six state senators. But last year, tensions within the group came to a head over the issues of cityhood and redistricting. The latter issue in particular — which culminated with freshman Democratic Commissioner Jerica Richardson being drawn out of her seat — prompted heated exchanges and denunciations in committee rooms downtown.

Anulewicz told her colleagues she was hopeful with those issues out of the way, the delegation could return to a spirit of collaboration and dialogue.

"The past year ... I don't think is a good barometer for delegation participation, especially for bipartisan delegation participation," she said (three Republicans were present Monday: Seabaugh, Setzler and state Rep. Jordan Ridley, R-Woodstock).

"Because during the 2022 legislative session in particular, we had a few very contentious issues — the maps and cities that had been proposed — and during this 2023 session at least, I don't anticipate we're going to be drawing any maps," Anulewicz added.

Wilkerson likewise called for members to "agree that we are going to do what we said we're going to do, which is commit to working in a bipartisan way to make sure that everybody is heard."

Seabaugh said his election to delegation leadership "says a lot about how we want to move forward."

"I'm honored to be selected to be vice chair of our delegation," he said. "I think I have a good relationship with all of our representatives, and I think that all of our representatives want to do what's in the best interest of Cobb County. At the end of the day, we're looking for the same outcome. How we get there, we may differ a little bit, but at the end of the day I think we're all on the same page with what we'd like to see Cobb County become in the future."