Bill White, CEO of the Buckhead City Committee (BCC), says the push is on again at the Georgia General Assembly to get support for legislation that would let residents vote to split from the city of Atlanta. He said rampant crime in the neighborhood can only be solved by Buckhead becoming its own city with its own police force.
White is a controversial figure whose Trumpian style, such as personal attacks on social media against Mayor Andre Dickens and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, is considered by some to be a reason why Buckhead cityhood failed during the 2022 session.
Just days after 77-year-old Eleanor Bowles was murdered at her Buckhead home in a gated community on Dec. 10, White and the BCC sent out an email with the subject, “Tragic Loss in Buckhead: How You Can Help.” The email said, in part, “The process of becoming a city is expensive, and we need your generous contributions to make Buckhead safe, secure and independent.”
White said the fundraising email was sent out after BCC received requests from many people asking how they could help.
“The media labeled Buckhead City ‘dead’ after [Lt. Gov.] Geoff Duncan paused our bills last year,” White said in an email. “So many believed this. Buckhead City is alive and well.
“For those offended by us fundraising to make Buckhead safe — I hope they put this much energy into asking our mayor to do his job so there’s no need to leave Atlanta [and] stopping these young gangs from robbing, attacking and murdering Buckhead residents,” he said.
BCC has also asked state legislators to add Bowles’ name to the cityhood bills.
Cityhood opponents say Buckhead voters already made their voices heard at the ballot box in November. That’s when they snubbed a slate of Republican candidates endorsed by the BCC and instead elected Democrats opposed to Buckhead City to represent them at the State Capitol.
“The people of Buckhead spoke very clearly in the [midterm] elections and they said loud and clear that they support candidates who want to keep the city united,” said Billy Linville, spokesperson for Committee for a United Atlanta.
It should be noted that no Atlanta legislators are sponsoring a Buckhead cityhood bill. Local delegations choose local legislation, but the GOP-controlled General Assembly is known for working around that rule.
Jason Esteves, former Atlanta Board of Education member and the first Afro-Latino elected to the Georgia State Senate, said he hopes the legislative leadership will listen to the officials who represent Buckhead.
“Legislators who represent the districts that are impacted by a Buckhead City decision, including myself who will be representing about 70% of Buckhead, are serving as a voice for our community and saying that we don’t want to be divided from the city of Atlanta,” he said.