Stockbridge leaders approve resolution opposing reopening businesses

The Stockbridge City Council on Thursday approved a resolution opposing Gov. Kemp’s decision to reopen “non-essential” businesses as early as Friday. LEON STAFFORD/AJC
The Stockbridge City Council on Thursday approved a resolution opposing Gov. Kemp’s decision to reopen “non-essential” businesses as early as Friday. LEON STAFFORD/AJC

Stockbridge leaders on Thursday said Gov. Brian Kemp's recent move to reopen businesses as early as Friday is misguided and could put the south metro community in danger.

In a unanimous vote, the Stockbridge City Council passed a resolution expressing members’ opposition to Kemp’s authorization for “non-essential” businesses such as gyms, bowling alleys, tattoo parlors and nail salons to reopen. The resolution, however, cannot override the governor’s orders.

The councilmembers said caution is especially important in communities of color where the spread of the coronavirus has been especially deadly. The Henry County city of around 29,000 is 61% black, 22% white and 10.3% Asian, according to U.S. Census figures.

“Citizens and council are disgusted and [we] wanted to make sure that you’re well aware of our position and that we care about your well being,” Stockbridge Mayor Anthony Ford said to residents during the virtual meeting carried on Zoom.

Kemp on Monday announced he planned to ease restrictions on some “non-essential” businesses as long as they followed social distancing and disinfecting guidelines. The controversial move will allow restaurants to begin dining room services next week.

The plan has come under fire from other leaders in the state, including mayors in Brookhaven, Savannah and Augusta. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said the governor had the right to make the call, but that she would advise residents to continue to shelter in place and make decisions that are best for their families.

However, leaders in Marietta and Macon have been supportive, with Marietta Mayor Steve “Thunder” Tumlin saying he plans to go to the barber and gym on Friday.

Stockbridge City Councilman Elton Alexander said that while cities cannot reverse Kemp's orders, it was important for leaders to voice their frustrations. He expects other communities will follow.

“I believe at some point a court challenge is needed,” he said. “Whether this order stripping local governments of the ability to enact tighter restrictions is even legal is in question with home rule and local control, the customary practice in Georgia.”