March 3, 2109
Dear Friends in House District 82 and DeKalb County,
Except for my college years and my twenties when I worked with legal services in rural Georgia and taught in Boston, I have lived my entire life in or immediately adjoining HD 82 based on varying district maps. My first house was in the city of Atlanta in DeKalb county and my current house is in unincorporated DeKalb County. I have been a part of the cityhood movement in the General Assembly and the Government Affairs Committee for the last dozen years.
In the last few days I have received many messages urging me to introduce legislation for the new proposed city of Vista Grove. I have also received many messages against this effort, but not as many as for it. I have met with LaVista Grove advocates any and all times they have requested over the last year and a half, and I have the following thoughts to share:
1. HD 82 Includes parts of four cities and parts of the proposed Vista Grove city. I live in unincorporated DeKalb.
2. My personal precinct of Emory North and the precincts of Emory South, Medlock, and Clairmont Heights are all islands between the maps of Vista Grove and Greenhaven. The views of residents of Vista Grove are different than the views of other HD 82 citizens outside the proposed map.
2. Multiple times I have advised advocates for Vista Grove to conduct a door-to-door neutral survey to learn the wishes of citizens they are directly impacting. A neutral survey has not been conducted, and signatures of advocates who come to meetings are not an accurate representation of citizens' opinions. Other neighborhoods have conducted surveys that are accurate in my view.
3. I have also discussed the possibility of proposed new city legislation to require a vote of greater than 50% for a city to be created. For instance, the new city of Sharon Springs in Forsyth County required a vote of 57%. Given the history of city votes I think greater than 50% vote perhaps should be required.
4. I dread a possible repeat of the hostility that was generated by the LaVista Hills politics, and I anticipate another angry neighbor vs. neighbor conflict if a Vista Grove proposal goes forward.
5. Significant issues between new Cities and the county, such as pension legacy and SPLOST funding, are unresolved. Is Vista Grove including police protection or not?
I remain neutral on a proposed new City of Vista Grove, and, for all the reasons I share, do not intend to introduce a proposed Vista Grove bill at this time. I am hopeful that a comprehensive and inclusive discussion among all the existing cities and proposed cities can take place, with the participation of the County, over the next six months.