Mableton residents turn out in droves to support de-annexing from new city

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Resident-turned-activist Christie Lynn had high hopes of mobilizing community support for de-annexing portions of Mableton’s new city boundaries during Wednesday night’s town hall.

Her expectations were surpassed when an estimated 600 people flooded the room in the Cobb police training center Wednesday night in south Cobb — with standing-room-only, and more who tried to join.

“I knew that the community was eager to come out and discuss this, but I did not expect it would get to the point where people would have to be turned away,” Lynn said.

State Rep. David Wilkerson, D-Powder Springs, who represents a portion of Mableton, hosted the event to gather community input before he introduces a bill to de-annex some precincts that voted heavily against the cityhood measure in the November election.

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

“This is the largest town hall meeting I’ve ever had,” Wilkerson said to the crowd.

Community members voiced frustration at what they called a lack of transparency in the city creation process. Lynn said she still encounters people while canvassing neighborhoods who have no idea they live within the Mableton boundaries. Residents also questioned why the city’s mayor and council election is now only eight weeks away.

“We have people who don’t even know if they’re in the city and you’re asking them to elect leaders?” one resident said.

Wilkerson told residents they need to reach out to their elected officials in the Legislature to share their support for de-annexing to increase the chances of the Cobb Delegation approving it.

“We need to email, we need to call, and we need to show up,” one woman added of advocating the Legislature for de-annexation.

Whether the city’s boundaries change is up to the state Legislature, which has the sole power to de-annex precincts from the city. Petitions, Lynn said, are the community’s way to show the lawmakers that they don’t want to be included.

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

People have been mobilizing since last summer in opposition to cityhood. Lynn helped lead those efforts and said she has gathered nearly 3,000 signatures.

“We’re trying to show that not only did we vote against it, but we still are engaged, and we want to be out,” she said.

Michael Murphy supported Mableton cityhood prior to the election and announced his candidacy for mayor. He attended the town hall to understand the concerns of the citizens but also said he can’t support de-annexation because it would be “quite a detriment,” to the new city.

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

“I think they have a valid case in terms of wanting to make sure they’re represented,” Murphy said.

Asked if de-annexing could be a detriment to the new city, Murphy said: “If the feasibility study was based on certain things, and you start taking away, then it seems to me you’ve got to take another look at it.”

Aaron Carman, another potential mayoral candidate, supports the de-annexation efforts.

“We’re finally activating the community, having the chance for their voices to be heard and making sure that we represent people transparently,” Carman said. “I think that’s been missing in this whole process. The people that will run the city, from city council to mayor, they have to build those bridges.

“If not, this is going to be a mess.”

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com