The new city of Mableton will remain whole — at least for now.
Some Mableton residents and state legislators have been pushing to have portions of the city removed from its boundaries. But they will have to pursue another route after state lawmakers declined on Monday to bring forward de-annexation legislation this year.
State Rep. Terry Cummings (D-Mableton) was working on a bill last week to remove residential areas in the northern part of the city, an effort to address the growing upset over the new city’s creation. But Monday morning, after a key legislative deadline for local bills, Cummings said she dropped the effort after negotiations stalled.
“They were adamant they did not want to be removed unless the entire voting precinct was removed, and trying to work through that and work it out — we just did not have time,” Cummings said. “I tried.”
She said she was not willing to remove an entire voting precinct rather than a neighborhood. But Debora Herndon, who is running unopposed for the District 6 council seat, did not want to be removed if the rest of her voting precinct stayed in.
“I ran for city council based on the fact that my community asked me to stand up once we were annexed into the new city of Mableton,” Herndon said. “There was an agreement ... I was thinking it was a done deal.”
State Rep. Michael Smith said he worked together with Cummings to try and reach an agreement and satisfy everyone’s concerns, but in the end, “we just ran out of time,” he said.
“We came close to an agreement, but when we got into the details, things got a little more complex,” Smith said. “We both worked hard in this process.”
Since voters in November approved the creation of the city, residents in the northern part — which overwhelmingly voted against cityhood — have been petitioning to be removed completely, citing concerns over how the effort was managed and the referendum’s ballot language.
State Rep. David Wilkerson became the legislative advocate for those residents and tried to convince lawmakers to support de-annexation. He put forth a map last week to serve as a starting point for them to build upon.
At the end of the day Monday, Wilkerson said he introduced a de-annexation bill to be considered during next year’s session.
“Let folks work it out over the summer, if that’s what they so choose, or work it out with the city council,” Wilkerson said. “The folks that asked for my help asked us to (file) it.”