Buckhead City Bill Introduced To Legislature While Support From Lieutenant Governor Softens

Lt. Gov. Burt Jones stands at Governor Kemps right hand during the 2023 State of The State address

After racing at breakneck speed for roughly 18 months, the Buckhead cityhood movement came to an abrupt halt in February of 2022 when Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) announced that they would not allow cityhood legislation to proceed to a vote. In the intervening year, much has happened, but will the changes be enough to hand the Buckhead City (BC) movement a victory?

Both politicians who had killed the cityhood proposal are now out of office: House Speaker Ralston passed away in November 2022 and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan did not seek re-election. Republican Burt Jones (a stalwart supporter of BC) was elected as the new Lieutenant Governor. Jones has been an active and vocal proponent for Buckhead City, often appearing with Bill White at fundraisers and press conferences in support of BC. Jones is now in a position to set the legislative agenda for the State and advance the cause that he had pushed for.

According to Buckhead City Committee CEO, Bill White, the election of Burt Jones was a virtual guarantee for passage of the legislation. In a radio interview in April 2022 White said, “So Burt has publicly said he’s going to pass Buckhead City in the Senate in the first 10 days as the new Lieutenant governor next January as a priority of his legislative session. And that’s great news, right?” White continued, “So we want everybody to go out and vote for Burt Jones. A vote for Burt Jones is a vote to get Buckhead City on the ballot. And we’re going to approach it that way. We raised almost a million dollars for our PAC. We’re going to be applying that to candidates who support Buckhead City.”

If you live by politics, then you die by politics.

Perhaps swayed by the Governors newly cemented relationship with Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, who has shown a remarkable ability to work across the political spectrum and oversaw a 14% drop in Buckhead crime last year, Burt Jones recently softened his stance on BC.  “I’m very sympathetic to what’s going on in all areas of Atlanta, but particularly in Buckhead. I’m very clear on this: I’m not for creating other layers of government. But I’ve been down here 10 years and we’ve voted on referendums to create new cities in multiple other places.

“I’m not going to shut down the [Buckhead City] conversation if a senator brings it forward because they have legitimate issues. We’d be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn’t allow the process to try to play out.” Jones told the AJC.

Jones also told Axios that he is engaged in dialogue with both sides, including Mayor Dickens and BCC CEO Bill White, but that White “is not a legislator the last time I checked.”

White issued the following statement on February 8th, the day after the BC legislation was introduced in the Senate:

“We are elated our Buckhead City bills have dropped in the Georgia Senate. We remain grateful to all our Georgia State Legislators, to Governor Kemp, Lt. Governor Jones, and Speaker Burns for their extraordinary leadership. All we are asking for is for the right to VOTE on our destiny this November (like so many have before us including the newly formed city of Mableton) and when successfully implementing our plans that will vastly improve public safety & quality of life for Buckhead residents, and ultimately for Atlanta & the entire metro ATL.”

It’s not looking good for Buckhead City in 2023, but as I already pointed out: politics has a way of flipping the script when least expected.

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