Mableton de-annexation fight: ‘racism, classism or modern-day dog whistle’
The term “majority rule” stands for a rule of decision MADE within a specified group. At its simplest, the rule requires that the vote of each member shall be counted as equal to that of every other and that no vote or decision by a minority may override that of a majority.
Our country was built on a premise that when there is an election the majority vote rules the day. This applies to candidates as well as issues that make their way to a ballot box and are lawfully voted upon by the people of a community.
This practice is evident in the recent statewide elections in Georgia including that for Governor and for the U.S. Senate. It is also evident on the federal level as you see one party replacing the other as the leading party within Congress. Many may not have been victorious or seen their preferred candidates win, but they were willing to honor and accept the vote of the people. When it comes to elections, this is the process we follow.
However, we have witnessed on more than one occasion that a person who loses is willing to cry foul and even go as far as to rally others to try to overthrow a legal vote that goes against them. We saw this revolt with the lawful transition of power for our country following the most recent presidential election. This was the only time in modern history that we saw a true defiance of the logic that the majority rules, but it appears not to be the last.
Think back to January 6, 2020, when citizens attacked our government because they could not accept being on the losing end of an election. On that cold day in January, it was a refusal and unwillingness to accept the newly elected president, Joe Biden. Fast forward to now and you see voices focused on the newly minted city of Mableton – located in the southwest corner of Cobb County. Yes, they are at it again in their unwillingness to accept the majority vote of the people when it comes to the City of Mableton.
Nevertheless, based on the affirmative votes received, Mableton is our newest city. Thanks to that vote, Mableton is now the largest city in Cobb County, exceeding Marietta and Smyrna in population, another fact that may be rubbing some the wrong way.
Those on the opposing side, those who did not want Mableton to become a city, are unwilling to accept the loss and are now waging a war to be removed, aka de-annexed. Yes, they want to be removed from the boundaries of the new city before it can even get started and before it can elect its new government on March 21 in a special election.
The REASONS offered for de-annexation are nonsensical. Many feel the comfort level revealed in the conversations being held by de-annexers is akin to racism and classism as they demand to be de-annexed – not waiting to be associated with Mableton and South Cobb.
Claims have been made that they were included in the new city without their knowledge. Not so says many who lead the charge to get the city going. This matter was also covered in the local media (print and TV) and on social media. It was not an issue that was hidden and the boundaries were always known prior to the election.
Others are claiming concerns regarding new taxes, yet some of these are the same voices that are begging Smyrna to annex them, regardless of additional taxes.
In their de-annexation efforts, they have found themselves a leader, State Rep. David Wilkerson. Wilkerson is not the Representative for the area so many are concerned about his involvement in an issue not in his district. Wilkerson says he is being responsive to Cobb County constituents who contacted his office for help. Some feel that his position is situational because when contacted by a member of the community regarding a different issue – housing and renters issues – Wilkerson offered a different response. He directed the constituent to contact the Representative for their area for help, which is usually the proper protocol to follow. The citizen pushed back saying they were contacting him for the same level of advocacy and efforts he was giving on the de-annexation efforts that were not in his district. Wilkerson offered no comments to this blaring observation, but having no comments has not stopped the “De-annexation Whisper” from pushing forward on behalf of the de-annexers. He has even directed those wanting de-annexation to saturate Cobb Representatives with letters, emails, and phone calls to demand de-annexation, regardless of the vote of the majority of the voters in November.
More importantly, many say Wilkerson had full knowledge that parts of his district were being drawn into the new city and that he failed to notify his constituents when the first cityhood bill was introduced during the 2020/2021 session and again when it was reintroduced in the 2021/2022 session.
Again in an effort to push an issue that does not involve his constituents, Wilkerson pledges to introduce legislation to de-annex those who desire de-annexation but Wilkerson is running into a brick wall with little support from other colleagues at the general assembly. Those with their apertures open and who understand this issue from a statewide perspective, know that this process will have far-reaching negative consequences beyond the boundaries of the new city of Mableton.
Many in the community are talking in various groups as they ask why Wilkerson hates Mableton and what is really behind his charge. Others are concerned Wilkerson, who is Black, is trying to damage the new city before it can get started.
Members of the community who attended Wilkersons recent community meeting say they were too frightened to identify themselves as supporters of the new city as the crowd was clearly anti-Mabelton and that Wilkerson did not make it conducive for other voices to be heard as he was focused on one thing and one thing only – de-annexation.
As this mess continues to be stirred, news has come to SPOTLIGHT that a slate of candidates against de-annexation has allegedly been entered into the Mableton government race. Many question their true objective in entering the race. Others say, If you don’t support the new city, why are you running to be part of the new government? If elected, do they plan to put up roadblocks to block the new city from succeeding and creating another dysfunctional city before Mableton is allowed to start?
Political watchers in South Cobb liken what is occurring to the antics of the tea party and the negative effect they had on the country. Others suggest that those demanding de-annexation are MAGA supporters who are trying to create their own world – separate and apart from Black and Brown majority communities.
Another issue on the horizon and a flash point in the community conversation on de-annexation is former Donald Trump’s recent announcement that he plans to run for president. The de-annexation conversation has been likened to the dog whistles that were popular during the Trump era and that continue to linger in the air.
The coming week will be interesting as we watch to see how this issue plays out in the community and at the General Assembly.
Stay tuned as we continue to monitor and bring this story to you.