City of South Fulton mayor vetoes the name ‘Renaissance’

Mayor Bill Edwards vetoed the name Renaissance for the new city. (HENRY TAYLOR / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM) AJC FILE PHOTO

Mayor Bill Edwards vetoed the name Renaissance for the new city. (HENRY TAYLOR / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM) AJC FILE PHOTO

It was a short-lived Renaissance.

Bill Edwards, mayor of the city once known as South Fulton, announced Monday that the old name would be the city's new name, too.

Edwards vetoed the name Renaissance, which members of city council approved last week in a contentious 4-3 vote. The new name was first selected last month.

In a statement, Edwards cited the “overwhelming response” of residents who were opposed to Renaissance, the cost of changing the name and the history of other new cities sticking with the names they had when they incorporated. Once recent exception is Chattahoochee Hills, which was Chattahoochee Hill Country when the city was chartered.

Edwards said the city has "more urgent issues to deal with" than the name in order to set residents and government "on a strong foundation to move forward." Atlanta had several names before the one that stuck, he said, and renaming the city can happen at any time.

Last week, Edwards said he was “weighing everything” as he considered whether or not to keep the name Renaissance. Council members will have the opportunity in January to vote to override Edwards’ veto; in order to do so, they would need five votes.

Rafer Johnson, one of several people who ran for mayor of the city of about 100,000 people, said he thinks the veto was the wrong move. He said he was “deeply disappointed” by the choice, saying that the name South Fulton has a “bad rap,” while there are no negative connotations associated with Renaissance.

The outcry against Renaissance, though, was strong. Sam Bowen, a resident who suggested the name, said most people seemed to be opposed to the process of selecting the name, which didn’t allow for a city-wide vote. He said he didn’t take the decision personally.

Bowen was one of more than 200 residents who attended last week’s city council meeting, which included the Renaissance vote. He said he was one of about 50 people who could not get into the full meeting room. Chata Spikes, a spokesperson for the city, said most of the residents who came to last week’s meeting were opposed to the new name. One resident came to present a petition with 600 signatures opposed to calling the city Renaissance.

Bruce Moody also said the meeting was so full that he couldn’t get inside.

Moody said he wasn’t crazy about the name Renaissance — but then, he didn’t like the other options much, either. Moody said he didn’t mind living in the city of South Fulton. He just hopes the name itself won’t be divisive for residents.

“I think what’s most important is what we do with our city,” he said. “It isn’t so much the name as it is what people do with that name.”