By Guest Columnist DAVIS FOX, retired city planner who has been active in DeKalb County politics and government for many years
For now, the legislation to allow for the secession of the Buckhead neighborhood has stalled in the General Assembly. Credit goes to the courage and leadership of Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston.
Unfortunately, I do not believe we are finished with this issue. The proponents are still proposing a silver bullet solution to complicated issues. The idea of breaking apart the City of Atlanta is especially a bad idea – for Atlanta, Buckhead, and the State of Georgia. Yet, the issue I want to focus on for this column is the idea pushed by those in favor of secession: “We just want the right to vote.”
Having worked for a DeKalb County commissioner, I’ve had a front row seat for the cityhood movement. There is one argument that has been used in previous cityhood efforts and now it is coming from the Buckhead secessionists that seems impossible to refute.
“We just want the right to vote and choose our local government,” is the common plea from proponents. For those who have a sense of fairness it is always difficult to limit choices. Unfortunately, the answer elected officials should say in this matter is, “No, you do not have the right to vote to break off from Atlanta to form a new city.” And here’s why.
America is a republic, not a democracy. We don’t have a right to vote on everything. Many important ideas are not put up for a vote. We went through the civil rights era without a vote on whether segregation should end. Would a referendum on civil rights in the South have been helpful to our country? Parents don’t have a right to vote in choosing the school principal or classroom teacher even though they may have a profound impact on our children’s future. We don’t have a right to vote on a new traffic signal that might worsen our daily commute and harm our quality of life. When we chose a republic form of government, we decided not everything can or most importantly should be brought to a vote.
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