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After four years, 50 town halls, and a contentious cityhood vote, the newly incorporated city of Mableton is about to get its inaugural municipal leaders. A March 21 special election didn’t produce a majority of votes for a mayor and four of the city council members, so early voting for the fledgling Cobb County city’s runoff election starts this week. Election Day is April 18, and then Mableton’s first mayor and six city council members will begin to serve four-year terms.
There’s been lots of confusion over the town’s annexation from Cobb County, its possible de-annexation, and the elections for mayor and city council, so here’s a breakdown of what’s at stake and what’s next:
Is Mableton officially a city in Georgia yet?
Yes. On Nov. 8, voters approved incorporating the city of Mableton in south Cobb County by a narrow 53% margin. That makes it the largest city in the county with roughly 41,000 people. The new city is east of the cities of Austell and Powder Springs, southwest of Smyrna, and bounded by the Chattahoochee River to the southeast. Mableton is still part of the Cobb public school district and Cobb will continue to provide public safety services, but it will have its own departments for planning zoning, and code enforcement; parks; and trash pickup.
Why are some residents angry about the results of the cityhood vote?
Some local voters within Mableton’s new city limits were against the cityhood push from the start. The group Preserve South Cobb argued that they’d likely face higher taxes to pay for separate new services and infrastructure. Other residents complained after the vote, saying they were confused by the ballot question’s language and didn’t know they’d be included in Mabelton’s city limits.
In February, some anti-Mableton residents called for a new election, saying the November one was unfair or stolen. But no residents filed an official challenge.
How did the state Legislature get involved?
During the 2023 legislative session that concluded March 29, state Rep. Terry Cummings (D-Mableton) and state Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Mableton) were working on a de-annexation bill to remove some residential areas or allow residents to exit the city, but nothing panned out.
On the last day of the session, a bill that was originally designed to protect Georgia’s gas-powered leaf blowers from local bans also became a de-annexation bill. It would have allowed small fringe areas of Mableton, made up of 10 lot parcels or less, to remove themselves from the city. But House Bill 374 died upon final vote. It can still be re-introduced in 2024.
So Mableton’s current boundaries are fixed, at least until 2024?
Not quite, says Cobb County Elections Director Janine Eveler. The new city can still add land. “The only other option in between now and the next [legislative] session is that the new mayor and [city] council can annex property themselves.”
Why are residents voting again this week?
Georgia requires candidates to receive 50% plus one vote to outright win an election. Since no mayoral candidate got more than half of the needed votes in the March special election to choose the new city’s leaders, mayoral candidates Aaron Carman and Michael Owens are headed to the runoff. The early voting period begins Monday, April 10 and ends Friday, April 14. There is NO early voting on April 15-17.
For Mableton’s six city council races, two council members were elected outright: Ron Davis in District 1 with 233 votes, and Debora Herndon in District 6 with 539 votes. The new city’s voters will decide on four others on April 18:
- Monica Evette Delancy and Dami Oladapo for District 2.
- Keisha Jeffcoat and Yashica Marshall for District 3.
- Patricia Auch and Cassandra Brown for District 4
- Cheryl Davis and T.J. Ferguson for District 5.
How do I know if I’m in the Mableton city limits?
Cobb County mailed out information to 51,000 voters last month, but you can check election maps here to see if you’re a Mabletonian. If you’re a Mableton voter, check out early voting information here.
What was voter turnout like in March?
It was low. A total of 6,041 people voted, which means just under 13% of the electorate turned out for the Mableton special election on March 28. Eveler predicts that turnout for the runoff election will be about the same, if not a bit lower. That’s not great news for representative democracy. Studies show that small turnouts in municipal elections tend to favor specific groups: older voters, homeowners, higher-income, and white people.
Want to find out more?
Check Cobb County’s election website for where to vote and check the city of Mabelton’s candidate page for more about the candidates running for city council and mayor.
a lot of you fax or incorrect. If you’re going to report something why don’t you make sure that you have your fax correct? There’s so much wrong I can’t even go into it.
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