Feb 21, 2023 - News

Questions linger after Mableton cityhood vote

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Three months after voters approved the new city of Mableton, questions remain about how this new layer of government will work — and some residents remain steadfast in their quest to abandon ship.

Driving the news: A town hall meeting hosted last week by the county drew hundreds of residents who wanted to know how their relationship with Cobb will — or won't — change once Mableton transitions to cityhood.

Why it matters: Mableton is set to become Cobb's largest city with about 77,000 people. Its future mayor and city council, to be determined in a March 21 special election, will be tasked with unifying a divided constituency.

  • The special election is projected to cost around $255,000, Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler at the town hall meeting said.

Catch up quick: Mableton voters on Nov. 8 approved a referendum to incorporate. The county said Gov. Brian Kemp had the discretion to appoint a transition team to help start the city, but Commission Chair Lisa Cupid said the governor told her he would not do that.

  • Cupid was asked by residents at the town hall why Kemp made that decision.
  • "That's for the governor to share with this community," she said.

What they're saying: At the town hall, concerns were expressed about the referendum itself. One neighbor said they felt affected residents should have been informed via mail and another said they misunderstood who the referendum would affect.

One resident who spoke with Axios following the meeting said she didn't understand how voters who had the referendum on their ballots didn't think they would be affected by the question.

  • "I'm shocked that there were people who had no idea," said Connie Rimes, referring to the referendum. "I voted no, but [the] majority wins."

What's happening: Nevertheless, state Rep. David Wilkerson, who represents part of Powder Springs and Mableton, is pushing ahead with plans to give residents who live in areas that opposed cityhood the option to go back to the county.

  • He told Axios that legislation on a proposal that could give those residents a way out could be introduced in the next week or two.
  • "Our job here is to represent individuals and taxpayers and families, not governmental entities that are created by the legislature," he said.

The intrigue: Mableton's incorporation is not only vexing opponents but also giving its neighbor to the northwest some consternation. Powder Springs Mayor Al Thurman told Axios that Mableton affects his city's ability to grow and expand.

  • The original maps for the city boundaries didn't include areas that were eyed by Powder Springs for potential annexation, so Thurman said he was surprised to see that the latest borders were so close.
  • "I'm sure a lot of citizens were shocked that they were even in the city," he said. "So we had that same shock. I didn't realize at the time that the maps had changed."

What's next: A Mableton city council and mayoral candidate forum will be held Tuesday night at 6:30pm via Zoom.


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