The Republican-controlled Georgia Senate rejected a bill Thursday that would have paved the way for residents of the wealthy Buckhead neighborhood to vote by ballot referendum on whether to deannex from Atlanta and create their own city.
The measure, SB 114, was shot down by all Democrats and ten Republicans in a 33–23 vote, which came as a disappointment to Buckhead City movement leaders, who have been working toward a ballot referendum for years in large part because of Atlanta’s crime issues.
The Buckhead City Committee, which has been leading the charge on lobbying and fundraising for the referendum, released a statement after the vote vowing to “never give up” on their cause.
The committee wrote:
We want to thank you for your unwavering support, resources, volunteerism and love, especially these past few weeks contacting the legislators.
We also would like to thank the legislators who voted to support our VOTE on Buckhead City. We especially thank Lt. Governor Burt Jones for his leadership and for getting us this far today. We would also like to extend blessings to Senator Randy Robertson, and our great vocal senators today, Senator Ed Seltzer, Senator Greg Doleful, Senator Carden Summers, and Senator Colton Moore, and our original sponsor Senator Brandon Beach.
We are of course disappointed in the results of the Senate vote today, but we will never give up until Buckhead gets to VOTE.
It also shared a photo of the final vote tally, which highlighted the names of all the state lawmakers in favor of and opposed to the bill:
Our official statement regarding the Senate’s vote today on SB 114.
More to follow.#BuckheadCity pic.twitter.com/Ix41CZnYXq
— Buckhead City GA OFFICIAL (@BuckheadCityGA) March 3, 2023
The bill’s failure is particularly discouraging after it had advanced out of a Senate committee Tuesday. The moment was a tangible show of significant progress for the cityhood movement, which only became serious in the last few years after Buckhead City Committee’s leader, Bill White, took hold of the effort.
The movement saw its first sign of real momentum in 2021 as residents of Buckhead, one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the South, faced a surge in violent crime in Atlanta. White and others formed the city committee and highlighted that a Buckhead City would have its own police department.
“There is no leadership here in Atlanta,” White told Breitbart News at the time. “No one is taking any corrective kind of actions on resources for police, allowing them to do their job.”
Crime in Atlanta was indeed on the rise at the time, and while a report from local outlet 11 Alive indicates that much of that has improved under Atlanta’s current mayor, Andre Dickens (D), a grim 170 homicides occurred in 2022, the third year in a row that homicides have increased.
Dickens, who has made crime a top focus since the outset of his tenure last year, is adamantly opposed to carving Buckhead out of Atlanta, which would effectively decimate the city’s revenue and has raised concerns among some about it affecting the state’s bond rating.
Dickens’ stance was bolstered ahead of Thursday’s vote by Gov. Brian Kemp’s administration after an attorney for the governor released a memo, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), laying out numerous questions he said were unanswered about the logistics of creating the new city.
The AJC noted that Thursday’s vote, while a significant setback, was not a fatal blow for Buckhead cityhood proponents given how vocal and organized they are.
Write to Ashley Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @asholiver.