Although there continues to be controversy over the close vote against incorporation of the new city of LaVista Hills, I am hopeful the very divided citizens inside the "map" will pause and consider some positive next steps. I want to share some thoughts, and as always, I am interested in your views and response.
1. I do not think the November 3 election could be overturned based on the limited facts we now know, and nor do I think any more recounts will change the result. And, I understand that the LaVista Hills Alliance this week has decided not to pursue litigation to overturn the election results, and allow the Secretary of State to proceed with his investigation.
The certification process and recounts resulted in three more "no" votes, totaling a 139 vote margin, and the Georgia Code Sec. 21-2-522 provides narrow grounds to contest an election. There must be evidence of fraud or misconduct that relate to enough votes to change the election result, and that is a high standard. But, the advocates for a new City of LaVista Hills have every right to explore and act on any facts they may discover. And, as a practicing litigation attorney for decades, I tend to be conservative on the decision to initiate litigation.
2. The LaVista Hills cityhood election was based on too many negative messages, and some of the language and mailers were harsh. All political consultants (almost all) will advise negative literature as the winning strategy, and this strategy accelerated the conflict between the pro and con advocates, and made the undecided voters leery, perhaps turned off. The tone of elections matter, particularly when they are close to home, or neighbor vs. neighbor. There did not seem to be enough happy or positive advocates for either side.
3. There is not presently a consensus for a new city of LaVista Hills, and perhaps there needs to be more buy-in before new campaigns are initiated. Very few states create new cities through the state legislatures, and many states requires a petition process that calls for between 10% and 40% of the voters to ask for an election for a new city before the process of actual city creation moves forward. I am recommending some form of a petition process to the House study committee, on which I serve, for our final report. When the study committee issues its report, I will update you on any recommendations.
4. Most of the voters in the map of LaVista Hills who are also in the 82nd House District voted No at a higher rate than the overall No vote. There was too much division between the neighborhoods -- some strongly for and some strongly against a new city which is unusual, I think.
These thoughts may not be your views, and I am respectful of the strongly held wishes for new cities in general. As we move forward, I hope the process will be more transparent and there will be a more cooperative approach to achieve consensus. Thank you! I am happy to hear your ideas for the future.