Voters decided to create the new city of Brookhaven in DeKalb County by a margin of 55 to 45 percent. It was after midnight before all votes were in, but the final tally showed 5,590 voting “yes” and 4,646 voting “no.”
Brookhaven will be the seventh city to incorporate since Sandy Springs and the second in DeKalb County, following Dunwoody in 2008. Brookhaven with 49,000 residents will be the largest in the county and one of the state of Georgia’s 15 largest cities.
Brookhaven was decided by the closest vote among Georgia’s new cities. The city of Dunwoody, for instance, was approved by a margin of 81 percent to 19 percent. The city of Sandy Springs was approved by more than 90 percent of voters.
Precinct returns in Brookhaven showed that north Brookhaven, closest to Sandy Springs and Dunwoody, supported the new city, while central and southern Brookhaven were more skeptical. City supporters won majorities in six of 12 precincts, including two south of Peachtree Road: Montgomery Elementary (68 percent), Ashford Dunwoody-St. Martin’s (61 percent), Ashford Parkside (68 percent), Briarwood Rec Center (52 percent), Cross Keys High (52 percent), Nancy Creek-Kittredge (66 percent).
Turnout was close to 30 percent, a strong showing for a summer election, with waiting lines reported in a number of polling places, including Montgomery Elementary which had the highest turnout of 1,400 voters.
“Our message carried across all backgrounds and demographics,” said J. Max Davis, president of Brookhaven Yes. “People who were unhappy with DeKalb wanted to try something new.”
Opponents prevailed in the Silver Lake precinct (54 percent-no), which includes Historic Brookhaven where the chairs of No City Brookhaven live. Opponents carried majorities in the precincts of Ashford Park (55 percent-no), Brookhaven (55 percent-no), Skyland, Woodward, and Montclair, but by narrower margins and lower turnout.
City supporters celebrated election night at Pub 71 in Brookhaven, with Brookhaven Yes president, J. Max Davis thanking all those who worked for cityhood from conception to the tough legislative fight to the months of campaigning.
“The people made their choice. This is a great moment. We have a big job ahead,” said Davis. “I’d like to offer my hand to the opposition to work with us. We have a lot of work to do to lay the foundation of this city.”
State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven) who sponsored the cityhood bill added, “Now it’s time to come together, proponents and opponents to build something great, the city of Brookhaven.”
Task forces were formed several months ago to begin studying the best ways to deliver the services the city will take on – roads, parks, police and zoning. Meetings are already underway as groups discuss possible candidates for mayor and the four city council posts.
Qualifying for the Nov. 6 election is Aug. 13-15, so decisions have to be made soon.
The charter calls for the governor to appoint a commission to begin the process of collecting resumes for police chief, city manager and other posts, as well as prepare RFP’s, request for information, from potential providers of city services. A city opposition group has asked the governor to appoint several opponents to the commission, but the governor’s office had no response other than to say the governor has until Sept. 1 to appoint the commission.
When asked on election night if he was going to run for mayor, Davis said, “That’s a question for another day.”
Since the election, there has been considerable reaction to the vote. DeKalb County spokesman Burke Brennan issued this statement. “The people have spoken. We will cooperate with the new city of Brookhaven as they transition to provide municipal services to DeKalb County residents...They’re still DeKalb County residents, so we’ve got to provide for everybody.”
Sandy Springs mayor Eva Galambos issued her congratulations.
“The city of Sandy Springs is happy to gain another municipal neighbor,” she said. “Our officials and staff will be happy to reach out to the founders of the new city of Brookhaven. I see a lot of potential for cooperation and mutual benefit. There are some functions that benefit from economies of scale. I congratulate the citizens of Brookhaven as they gain a venue for civic participation, efficient services, and local control.”
Dunwoody mayor Mike Davis said he too, was pleased. “We stand ready to help,” he said. “We are thrilled about the new city on our southern border.”