Georgia has seen the creation of seven new municipalities since 2005: Sandy Springs, Johns Creek, Milton, Chattahoochee Hills, Dunwoody, Peachtree Corners and now Brookhaven.
Brookhaven is the first to be located entirely inside the Perimeter.
Brookhaven’s unique ITP character gave rise to the most spirited referendum campaign of the seven cities. Some neighborhoods had more “Brookhaven Yes” signs than “No” signs. Others had more “No City” signs than “Yes” signs. There were plenty of political mailers and phone calls on both sides of the debate.
And when the dust settled, 55 percent of the voters said “Yes” to chart a new course for our community. This is a solid majority, but also the closest margin of any of the seven new cities.
Now the difficult work begins.
Some of that work involves crucial efforts to attract the best and brightest police force, to establish plans to aggressively and equitably improve parks and resurface streets so that all of our neighborhoods can enjoy the results we are expecting to see, to adopt zoning ordinances that reflect the aspirations of our community, and to operate as cost-efficiently as possible.
Equally critical is the need to unite our community. Although “Yes” and “No” votes were counted on Election Day, that day has passed. Whether you were a “Yes” voter or a “No” voter does not matter when it comes to addressing crime, potholes, park improvements, zoning decisions and millage rates.
Gov. Nathan Deal soon will appoint a five-member commission comprised of local residents to handle the transition into cityhood.
Qualifying for mayor and four City Council seats begins Monday, Aug. 13, at 9 a.m. and concludes Wednesday, Aug. 15, at 4:30 p.m. at the DeKalb County Elections Office on Memorial Drive at I-285, across from the jail.
The mayor and City Council elections will be Nov. 6. If necessary, a run-off election will be held Dec. 4 for those seats in which a single candidate fails to surpass 50 percent of the vote. The city begins operations Dec.17.
The mayor and City Council have a responsibility to bring our community together.
And citizens have the responsibility to hold them accountable. Each of us will be one of 12,000 citizens in a Brookhaven City Council district, as opposed to being one of 138,000 in a DeKalb County Commission district. City Hall is likely to be centrally located somewhere along Peachtree Road, as compared to county offices in downtown Decatur. The mayor and council members will be our neighbors.
Government closest to the people is the most accountable. Our voices have been strengthened. As citizens, it’s a power we should use.
Together, we are Brookhaven. This is a time for optimism. As an individual citizen, I look forward to working with my neighbors to build something great.
State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven) represents District 80 in the Georgia House of Representatives and co-authored legislation creating the new city of Brookhaven. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.