A yard sign supporting the Buckhead City initiative adorns a yard along East Wood Valley Road on Tuesday, October 12, 2021. (Photo by: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

During Tuesday’s Atlanta Press Club Luncheon, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said he and Georgia’s Republican leadership are against the Buckhead City movement. However, the idea has once again resurfaced in the Georgia Legislature.

Georgia State Senator Randy Robertson, a Republican from Cataula, has introduced legislation that would incorporate Buckhead City. 

“For nearly two decades there has been a reasoned process allowing residents to vote for or against cityhood for their community. While many votes have been successful, as recently as last year, several votes have failed,” said Sen. Robertson. “Regardless of the outcomes, what matters to me as a legislator is that the people had the opportunity to decide for themselves. As lead sponsor of this legislation, you will not hear me politicizing, name calling or blaming. I simply believe in the right of self-determination and there is a lot of wisdom in letting the voters sort through the politics and settle the argument once and for all.”

An overwhelming majority of supporters of Buckhead City do not reside in Metro Atlanta. Last year, a Buckhead City proposal sponsored by State Senator Brandon Beach, a Republican from Alpharetta and State Rep. Todd Jones, a Republican from South Forsyth, was shoehorned into the final day of the 2022 legislative calendar. However, the late House Speaker David Ralston declined to bring the proposal to the floor. Speaker Ralston, then-Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Governor Brian Kemp were against the creation of Buckhead City. 

In response to this legislation, the Democratic Senators representing Buckhead – Senator Sonya Halpern (SD-39), Senator Jason Esteves (SD-6), and Senator Josh McLaurin (SD-14) –  released the following statement:

“Collectively, we represent the entirety of the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta in Georgia’s State Senate, and we stand united in our position that the City of Atlanta should and will remain united. The vast majority of our Buckhead constituents oppose efforts to separate their community from the City of Atlanta, and we are committed to defending their interests under the Gold Dome. We will not allow outsiders to play politics with our districts as a means of distraction from the issues that really matter. Together, we remain laser-focused on the legislative priorities our constituents elected us to advance including public safety, education, healthcare, and the economy. We encourage our colleagues to do the same.”

The Buckhead secession movement was kicked into overdrive in 2020 after the crime spike, racial uprising and the meteoric rise of Bill White, a leader with a penchant for fundraising while making incendiary and off-color comments about his opponents. White would give voice to certain Republicans wishing for Buckhead to break away from Atlanta for political gains.

Since becoming Mayor, Dickens followed through on his promise to open a new Atlanta Police precinct in Zone 2. It provides residents with a more secure environment, helps with traffic calls, patrol neighborhoods and create backup for other Atlanta Police in the area. The precinct began with eleven officers on the beat and increased over time.

“This city plays a critical role in driving our state’s economy and we take that role very seriously,” Dickens said during his speech at the State Capitol in 2022. “That makes it all the more imperative that you help us maintain this position by recognizing that as a city, we are stronger together. One city, one city with one bright future. What is good for Atlanta is good for Georgia.”

Dickens said Tuesday that crime overall is down 14% in Zone Two. He went on to fully explain his thoughts on the Buckhead City movement.

“The neighborhood I grew up in is called Adamsville, the adjacent neighborhood called Cascade and Buckhead all came into the city of Atlanta at the exact same time in the early ’50s,” said Dickens. “Now that we’ve got the highest bond rating, the world’s busiest airport, the highest graduation rate for APS ever — now you want to leave us? You can’t unscramble this egg. This is together. You want to undo that and still get the benefit of being adjacent to the best city? I’m not going to let that happen.”

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...