Fed up with how Fulton County runs elections, a group of north Fulton mayors is looking at other options for future elections in their cities.
“We’re looking for the opportunity to manage elections outside of the county if the county cannot reform itself,” Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker told Atlanta Civic Circle. “We’re looking at what our legal options are and whether we would need to get the laws changed to facilitate it.”
Bodker is a member of The North Fulton Mayors Association which also includes Alpharetta, Milton, Mountain Park, Roswell, and Sandy Springs. Mountain Park has a small portion that extends into Cherokee County and thus uses Cherokee to handle its elections.
“That should tell you something,” Bodker said.
The cities have two election management options. They can use the county or they can run their own election; however, the latter isn’t feasible for smaller municipalities.
“That’s not realistic,” Bodker said.
Yet, the cost of having Fulton administer Johns Creek elections is exorbitant, Bodker said. This municipal election cycle, which may include a runoff, will cost Johns Creek $300,000, he noted.
“There are more cost-effective ways to do these elections, and paying that kind of money to have a poorly-run election is an insult to injury,” Bodker said.
One idea being considered: an election authority.
“Cities [would] combine their resources for a more cost-effective way and a more efficient way and a more effective way to run the election,” Bodker said.
Fulton’s election management has come under fire in recent weeks for what critics say has been incompetent leadership. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has repeatedly called for Fulton Elections Director Richard Barron to be fired.
The mayors’ group agrees.
“We believe that incompetence has been shown in multiple election cycles, all of which have been when Rick Barron has been at the helm,” Bodker said. “Obviously, it’s not one person who runs an election but he’s the head of state, so to speak, and if his management capabilities are deficient then the team is deficient. Every team needs a leader and this leader should have been removed a long time ago.”
Barron was not available at press time for comment.
Do you think this is an appropriate move by the mayors? How would you improve our state’s elections? Send your thoughts to Tammy Joyner.