North Fulton cities reconsidering pooling funds to manage first local elections

A plan for a group of north Fulton cities to partner in the hiring of a superintendent to manage local elections in November is losing momentum.

Roswell, Alpharetta, Milton, Johns Creek and Mountain Park intend to start managing their own elections in 2023 or 2025, instead of paying Fulton County to administer the process.

During a Friday meeting with media, Roswell Mayor Kurt Wilson said conversations among the cities to pool resources for a superintendent to managed joint municipal elections have stalled.

Instead, cities are discussing their separate election plans, he said.

Milton had been leading the move for joint elections but a Friday statement confirmed the uncertainty of a partnership for 2023 elections.

“We simply don’t know whether or not there will be a joint election superintendent for multiple cities,” City Manager Steve Krokoff said via email. “Leaders of cities will be making these decisions in the coming weeks.”

In January, Roswell voted to take steps to conduct its own election in November. Wilson and some councilmembers said they now believe the city would be rushed in trying to set up this year’s election and they favor waiting until 2025.

According to Roswell, the city paid Fulton $373,000 to administer its local election in 2021 and the county wants to increase that amount to nearly $677,800, an increase of nearly $6 per voter.

In addition, Fulton County plans to close an early voting location in East Roswell leaving only one on the opposite side of town, Councilman Mike Palermo said.

Councilwoman Lee Hills says Roswell has the staff and enough time to set up November’s election and complained of Fulton’s mismanagement of the voting process, and polling places on Election Day.

“I feel residents of Roswell are sick of Fulton County …” she said. “I think they are tired of being told one thing and served up another.”

Fulton spokeswoman Jessica A. Corbitt-Dominguez said via email that long lines occur at the beginning of early voting and near the end of the three-week period.

“We have attempted to empower voters with information about lines by offering a mobile app with wait times so they can choose a time with shorter lines,” she said.

The cities with upcoming elections must notify Fulton by March 31 if they want the county to manage their elections as usual.

Last month, Johns Creek decided to wait until 2025 to run the city’s local elections. The city estimates the cost of managing its own election this year would be $722,000. The city estimates the cost would decrease to $517,000 in future elections.

Alpharetta City Council will discuss costs and possibly reducing the number of polling locations during a work session presentation by the city manager’s office on March 20. The officials will vote on the elections process during a regular meeting on March 27.

Mountain Park will also vote that day on how the city will manage elections this year.

“Fulton ... looks forward to working with any city that chooses to contract with (the county) for their municipal election,” Corbitt-Dominguez said.