Supporters and opponents of the creation of Buckhead City traded jabs about the motives behind the push to leave Atlanta. Supporters say the streets of Buckhead have become a playground for lawless behavior, while opponents claim Buckhead's true motivations are race-based and argue stripping Atlanta of the tax revenue generated by Buckhead would bring Georgia's largest city to its knees.
State Sen. Brandon Beach, a Republican from Alpharetta, and 12 of his GOP colleagues, none of whom represent Buckhead, have been the driving legislative force behind the city separation.
Beach, a 60-year-old staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, started his testimony following a six-minute video montage of crimes committed in Buckhead over the past 18 months, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“That video clearly shows crime is the issue that's really resonated and brought this issue to the forefront in the creation of a new city of Buckhead,” he told members of the Senate State and Local Government Committee. “It's unacceptable. We must get control of crime. And if we don't, we won't have a Buckhead.”
Beach intends to pre-file a bill next week that will pave the way for a cityhood referendum. By pre-filing, it will be high on the Georgia General Assembly's to-do list when it reconvenes in January.
A majority of Buckhead residents have slammed Atlanta's outgoing Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the police force for not doing more to curb crime in the tony residential and business area.
Tifton Mayor Julie Smith, who also serves on the board of the Georgia Municipal Association, said Buckhead residents who feel ignored should refocus their efforts and vote out elected leaders they are dissatisfied with and not waste time trying to create their own city.
“The Buckhead City proposal is an attempt to circumvent the local election process [residents] already have access to,” Smith said.
Bill White, the CEO of the Buckhead City Committee and who moved to Georgia three years ago, has claimed that rising crime rates and lack of arrests and prosecution have made Buckhead residents feel like they are “living in a war zone.”
White told the Washington Examiner earlier this year that “criminals feel emboldened to come because they know if they get arrested, they will be out the next day.”
In 2020, Atlanta authorities investigated 157 homicides, the most the city had seen in more than two decades.
Five of Atlanta's 15 mayoral candidates discussed Buckhead cityhood and rising crime rates at an Oct. 14 forum.
Of the five who attended, Felicia Moore, the City Council president, Andre Dickens, a city councilman, and Kasim Reed, a former two-term Atlanta mayor, took the top three spots in Tuesday's election. Moore and Dickens will compete in a Nov. 30 runoff.
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