The city of Brookhaven is a step closer to reality after a state senate vote March 26.
State senators voted 36-14 to allow voters a chance to decide whether they want the new city. The bill calls for a July 31 referendum on Brookhaven’s cityhood.
Sen. Fran Millar (R-40), who introduced the bill to the state Senate, told his fellow senators that the bill would be “giving people the right to vote on how they choose to be governed.”
“We’ve done it in Sandy Springs,” Millar said. “We’ve done it Johns Creek. We’ve done it in Milton. We’ve done it in Dunwoody. We’ve done it in Peachtree Corners. And now we’re talking about doing it in Brookhaven.”
Sen. Emmanuel Jones, (D-10), objected to Millar only speaking five minutes on the bill and not taking questions from other senators.
“How will this particular city impact all of the voters of DeKalb County?” Jones asked. “What is the racial makeup of this particular city? I wish I had some answers to some of these basic questions.”
Jones said the bill “circumvents the local delegation and really disenfranchises…the 700,000 [voters] in all of DeKalb.”
“Here we go again,” Jones said about the incorporation movement and the Brookhaven bill, which he called “racially gerrymandered.”
“Where is the state headed with these designer cities?” Jones asked. “Perhaps those in this area want to separate themselves from a majority Black county [government] to their own White city not much unlike what’s happened in some of the other cities.”
Sen. Steve Henson (D-41) said “a city can be a vital tool for a community and it can help build and improve a community.”
But Henson also complained that the local delegation was “skirted.”
“This measure has only been in the legislature for one year,” Henson said. “Dunwoody took several years. “This is …a rush to pass a piece of bad legislation,” Henson said.
Sen. Donzella James (D-35) said she had received 3,500 petitions from residents who are against the city of Brookhaven.
“We have all received numerous e-mails from not only people in that affected area but throughout DeKalb County saying, ‘Please say “no” to Brookhaven,’” James said.
At The Champion’s press time, the bill was headed back to the House of Representatives for a vote on amendments of the bill. If it passes the house, the bill will go to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature.