If you’re like me and sick of politics, the next 10 months will surely make you want to reach for the Pepto.
The 2022 Georgia gubernatorial race is already shaping up to be a nasty, bruising affair with former GOP U.S. Sen. David Perdue and former Georgia representative Vernon Jones primarying Brian Kemp to see who will face resurgent Democrat Stacey Abrams.
While the Republicans duke it out amongst themselves, that will give Abrams the opportunity to continue building on the Democratic gains seen in the 2020 election, which put Joe Biden in the White House and flipped the U.S. Senate.
I’m not a betting man, but my money would be on Perdue vs. Abrams in November. Stay tuned.
And then there’s Buckhead City.
I’m not going to get into the carpetbagging, racism, fearmongering, conspiracy theory-laden politics of it all, but as a concept, it’s seriously flawed. The comparisons to Sandy Springs and Brookhaven don’t hold water; both were unincorporated towns inside Fulton and DeKalb counties, not neighborhoods inside existing city limits.
Just before the holidays, a website called the Midtown City Exploratory Committee went viral on Nextdoor. The website highlighted the absurdity of breakaway neighborhoods preferring the most extreme solution rather than working with Atlanta’s leadership on issues such as crime.
The surely fictitious Midtown City plan proposes roping in the Ansley Park, Morningside, and Virginia-Highland neighborhoods, which must make Piedmont Heights nervous. Imagine being a small neighborhood trapped between two upstart cities?
Look, I get that Buckhead residents are unhappy about crime. I live in the heart of future Midtown City and the Citizen app on my phone is constantly alerting me to car break-ins, shots fired, and people brandishing various objects at each other a few feet from my home. I’m fed up with it like everyone else, and hope incoming Mayor Andre Dickens and the city council can work with police to tamp down crime, but never once I have thought Midtown should secede from Atlanta.
Judging by comments on various social media platforms and statements from the new-to-Atlanta chairman of the cityhood movement (not to mention retweeting known white supremacist organizations), I’m not sure all the proponents of Buckhead City understand just what they would be getting. Their kids might not have access to public schools, since it would require an amendment to the state constitution to allow them to attend Atlanta Public Schools. Buckhead City residents would see an immediate increase – as much as 36% – in their water bills, plus higher taxes due to the cost of starting a city from scratch.
There would likely be lawsuits galore from bond investors and a chilling effect on attracting more business to the metro and state due to instability.
If Buckhead City becomes a reality, then every other neighborhood across the state in a fit of pique will be petitioning for a referendum. Once that genie is out of the bottle, you can’t put it back inside.
As for crime, I’m not convinced Buckhead City having a couple hundred police officers would be more effective at suppressing crime than Atlanta’s plan to add more officers to beef up patrols. Unless there’s a plan to build a wall around the new municipality that supporters haven’t mentioned in the literature, criminals aren’t going to be paying any attention to the “Welcome to Buckhead City” signs.
Buckhead City organizers got a head start in the PR game, but counter organizations like Committee for United Atlanta, made up of business leaders, and the grassroots Neighbors for a United Atlanta have picked up momentum.
If cityhood comes to a vote, my hope is that Buckhead residents understand exactly what’s on the bill of goods they are being sold.
To paraphrase Bette Davis: Fasten your seatbelts; 2022 is going to be a bumpy ride.