As the July 31 vote to decide whether Brookhaven will become a city nears, the battle between city supporters and opponents has intensified. Most neighborhoods have yard signs, as “Brookhaven Yes“ estimates it has distributed 1,500 signs and “No City Brookhaven” reportedly with 1,200 signs distributed.
“Brookhaven Yes” has held nearly two dozen neighborhood and in-home meetings, as well as two larger town hall meetings. The group is planning several more neighborhood meetings and several larger meetings including a block party in Ashford Park.
“We continue to meet with as many voters as possible. The more people we get in front of, the better chance we have,” said “Brookhaven Yes” president, J. Max Davis.
If “No City Brookhaven” and “Ashford Neighbors” have held meetings, they have been invitation only. But opponents have been visible at many of the publicized “Brookhaven Yes” meetings.
“We welcome anyone who is opposed to come to our meetings,” said Davis. “The majority of people have been undecided. They have asked good questions. Both sides have been going door to door, in an attempt to reach voters. “Brookhaven Yes” has concentrated its efforts on likely voters. “No City Brookhaven” and “Ashford Neighbors” have also focused on newspaper ads and even a large billboard on Peachtree.
The most prolific battle seems to be among the direct mail pieces. Both sides, using professional political consultants, have flooded mailboxes with fliers making conflicting claims. “Do you want higher taxes, more fees? Less police protection? More government bureaucrats?” reads a “No City Brookhaven” flier. A “Brookhaven Yes” flier claims, “Your taxes will be lower. Police coverage will increase. DeKalb County is coordinating the No-City Campaign.”
In another round of fliers, “No City Brookhaven” has a flier with a burning dollar bill that reads, “Federal, State and county governments are suffering. So why are politicians demanding yet another layer of bureaucrats and government to dig us further into debt by supporting the city of Brokehaven.”
A flier put out by Georgia Citizens for Responsive Government reads, ”Fact: Brookhaven is a cash cow for DeKalb County. Fact: The cityhood area of Brookhaven is overwhelmingly viable financially. Fact: DeKalb County is already siphoning off our tax surplus to use in other areas of the county.”
The main opposition group is “No City Brookhaven” but its website does not list a board or any members. It’s leaders are believed to be Historic Brookhaven resident Chuck Konas, an executive of Post Properties, Mary Ellen Imlay, wife of John Imlay, one of Atlanta’s wealthiest citizens, and Jodi Cobb, a long time Democratic activist.
A tabloid newspaper filled with opposition articles and ads recently hit driveways, published by Dolly Purvis, a Democratic activist and most recently campaign manager for Democratic candidate for the state house, Sandy Murray, also a city opponent. Many of the ads were from “Ashfordneighbor.org” an early opponent of the city, run by Laurenthia Mesh, owner of Mesh corners, and her daughter Eugenie Viener.
Three different groups have been putting out pro-city fliers. “Brookhaven Yes”, the citizen group formed to promote passage of the referendum, has put out one flier. It’s board is listed on the group’s website.
Another group “Georgia Citizens for Responsive Government,” believed to be a private political action committee of Brookhaven businessmen, has also put out a flier.
“Brookhaven Ballot Committee, Inc” another political action committee with Republican ties, has sent out three fliers emphasizing the county’s role in opposing the city. How much each side is spending, and who are the contributors won’t be known until after the required state ethics commission filing deadline of July 17.
In the closing weeks, expect to see signs, more fliers, phone calls, more meetings, and efforts by both sides to win votes to their side.