The rhetoric is heating up on both sides of the cityhood debate in unincorporated south Fulton County.
This week, proponents and opponents of the proposed city of South Fulton trotted out themes that could be heard again on the campaign trail, should state lawmakers decide to give voters the chance to approve or reject a new municipality.
State Representative Ladawn Blackett-Jones (D - Atlanta), who co-sponsored legislation to create the city of South Fulton in unincorporated south Fulton County, told East Point City Council members that opposing the proposed municipality is a form of voter suppression.
Rep. Ladawn Blackett-Jones: Opposing the City of South Fulton is Voter Suppression
"Webster, not me, says that voter suppression is using your political power in order to stop someone from expressing their right to vote," Jones said. "You are a political body. The resolution would be a power. And that resolution would be presented to the 180 members of the House and the members of the Senate expressing you don't want someone else to have a right to vote."
Rep. Blackett-Jones made the comments during a lengthy discussion with the East Point Mayor and City Council regarding a resolution urging the Georgia General Assembly not to pass the city of South Fulton bill due to the negative impact it might have on East Point. The text of that resolution has not yet been released publicly.
"I'm not a PR expert, but if your reputation is what you are concerned about by people putting it down, saying they don't want to live in East Point, let me ask you what those same people are going to say when they find out for the first time probably in Georgia history, a predominantly African-American city used their political power to stop another predominantly African-American city from being created," Jones told the East Point Mayor and City Council.
Those words prompted a quick and sharp rebuke from state Senator Vincent Fort (D - Atlanta), who was also present at the meeting.
"I am offended when someone steps to this microphone and would accuse anybody on this council of voter suppression," Fort said. "Voter suppression has an emotional charge to it. And for someone to come before this council and accuse or even raise those mean words of voter suppression to you, who I know all of you have committed your lives to inclusion into the political process, I'm offended for you."
It is no secret that Senator Fort is against the city of South Fulton.
"I am not supporting the creation of the city of South Fulton," Fort said in a statement. "I believe there is a great potential for tax increases and decline in services for citizens if the city of South Fulton is created."
And that opposition against a new Fulton County city was on display, 4 February 2015, when Fort re-tweeted an image (shown below) from the Twitter handle "South Fulton Facts," accusing Republicans of backing the city of South Fulton as a new way to destroy Fulton County.
The lawmaker shown in the picture above is state Rep. Wendell Willard, a Republican from Sandy Springs. Willard is listed as a co-sponsor for House Bill 165; the city of South Fulton bill. Willard also authored legislation to re-create Milton County, which many in south Fulton County oppose.