Some Georgia residents are hoping that voters will turn out Tuesday to help them secede from their neighbors, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Vikki Consiglio, who lives in a Stockbridge subdivision near the Eagle’s Landing Country Club, has been disappointed by her nearby shopping and restaurant options. Stockbridge is a suburb about 20 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.
“I see the Waffle Houses and the McDonald’s, the Walmart and the dollar stores,” she told the Times. “I’m thinking, ‘Is this all I can have?’ There’s no fresh farm-to-table, no parks, no entertainment.”
Consiglio's disappointment spurred the controversial proposal to form a new city, Eagle's Landing, which would combine the most affluent parts of Stockbridge with pockets of unincorporated land. She hopes that the new city would attract higher-end grocery retailers such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, along with more upscale restaurants.
But the proposal to form a new city has launched a tense debate surrounding racial and economic disparity and voting rights, the Times reported. The once predominantly white region has seen an explosion in growth and an influx of minorities in recent years.
Thousands who live within the proposed new city boundaries of Eagle’s Landing will decide on the referendum, while thousands of others in Stockbridge, will not have a say on the matter.
What do the opponents say?
Those who are against the idea believe it's largely a racial issue and could have repercussions far beyond their city's boundaries.
“This is much bigger than the city of Stockbridge,” Arthur Christian told the Times. Christian runs the ballot committee, Citizens to Keep Stockbridge Together.
“It would end up being a tool to wrestle political and economic power from communities in general and African-American communities in particular,” he added.
Christian, who has lived in Stockbridge for 15 years, is among those who believe the secession movement is about holding on to white political power.
“Southerners don’t like things to be ugly out in the open, but the intent is ugly on the inside,” he said.
What do the proponents say?
Those in favor of the proposal claim they merely want to attract nicer restaurants such as Capital Grille, as well as upscale shopping options to the community.
If voters approve the measure, the city would have a median income of nearly $130,000 — more than twice the median income of Stockbridge residents.
Supporters also deny that race has anything to do with their push to break away from Stockbridge, pointing out that Eagle’s Landing would be would be 47 percent black, 39 percent white, 8 percent Asian, and 6 percent Hispanic.
“I don’t look at this as a black or white issue; I look at it as an issue that would benefit all,” Charles Marshall, a black resident of the Eagle’s Landing subdivision who supports the creation of a new city.
The proposed Eagle's Landing, if approved, would have a population of about 17,000, leaving about 12,000 in the city of Stockbridge.