I was disturbed to learn that my colleague in the General Assembly, Virgil Fludd, is once again attempting to change the way our County Commission is elected in Fayette County through the use of “Local Legislation” in the State House. Currently, all five members of our County Commission are elected at-large by the voters of the entire County. Representative Fludd proposes to break Fayette County up into geographic districts and have some, or all, of our Commissioners elected by districts.
The local legislative process exists in the General Assembly because of the limited constitutional authority granted to counties to frame, adopt and amend their own charters, powers and laws. Such legislative changes are referred to as “Local Legislation” in the General Assembly and are put forth by each county’s legislative delegation, which is made up of all legislators that represent any portion of a given county. In the Georgia House, the Fayette County delegation consists of me, John Yates (R-Griffin), Roberta Abdul-Salaam (D-Riverdale), Virgil Fludd (D-Tyrone) and Darryl Jordan (D-Riverdale). The rules of the House are such that only a majority of our delegation (3 members) needs to sign onto a local bill to move it out of committee and the House.
The local legislative process does not exist to impose controversial top-down changes on a local community without that community’s support and against the will of the locally elected officials. The process exists to give local officials an efficient and accessible process by which they can bring proposed changes that have community support to their General Assembly delegation and constitutionally change the political subdivision’s laws or ordinances. Not one of our County Commissioners has called me in support of creating a district based voting system in Fayette County. Further, I have not heard from one of my constituents in favor of this change and have heard from dozens that oppose it out of concern for Fayette County’s future. This effort is nothing more than an attempt by a few individuals at the State Capitol to impose their will on Fayette County without the support of the community at-large or our locally elected officials.
Year in and year out, Fayette County is at or near the top of the Georgia rankings in school performance measures such as graduation rates, SAT and ACT scores and percentage of graduates going on to college. Fayette County has one of the highest median household incomes in not only Georgia, but the nation. The value of new and existing homes continues to be among the highest in the State. Crime statistics indicate Fayette County’s crime rate is one of the lowest in metro-Atlanta. By any measure Fayette County has historically and currently is one of the most prosperous and well run counties in Georgia. Our success is owed in large part to the conscientious leadership of the current and past members of the County Commission, all of which have been elected at-large, by the voters of this County. It strikes me as tremendously irresponsible to risk the success we have enjoyed by making such a major change to how our leaders are selected without the support of the community or the very Commissioners this would affect. Unlike the proponents of this change, I am not willing to gamble our County’s future by imposing such a major systemic change without being certain it is supported by our community and locally elected officials. Based on the significant feedback I have received, this proposal simply does not have the support of Fayette County.