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21 February 2015

Republican Supporters of Milton County Help Boost South Fulton Cityhood Movement

Politics makes strange bedfellows.

Two years ago, Democrats and Republicans were at each other's throats over legislation affecting Georgia's largest county -- Fulton County [Edwards and Wickert (31 March 2013). Battle for Fulton just beginning. Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved on 21 February 2015.].

Republicans claimed Fulton County needed reform. Across the political aisle, Democrats accused the GOP of a not-so-veiled attempt to destroy Fulton County so that Milton County could rise again.

One comment from labor leader Greg Fann effectively summed up the Democrats' argument against the Fulton County reform legislation proposed by Republicans in 2013.

"You could not get Milton County,” county employees union President Greg Fann said, referring to a plan to form a separate county favored by some in the north. “Now you’re trying to destroy Fulton County”

Wickert (7 February 2013). Bills to shake up Fulton get hearing. Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved on 21 February 2015.

As others have said before, though, time heals old wounds. And politics makes strange bedfellows.

Republicans and Democrats who were once at war over Fulton County are now singing "Kumbaya, my lord." Why? Because they both support creating the city of South Fulton.

Two bills, House Bill 165 and Senate Bill 140, are now pending under the Gold Dome. The legislation would create a new municipality in unincorporated south Fulton County aptly named the "City of South Fulton."

Listed among the sponsors of both House Bill 165 and Senate Bill 140 are two Republican legislators who have made no secret that they want to bring back Milton County.

"I am working diligently with my counterparts to re-create Milton County,” Senator John Albers (R - Roswell) said in a statement. “The creation of a smaller government will be more accountable to the residents and the remaining areas. North Fulton and South Fulton schools are also geographically split by a fragile Atlanta school system. Our students deserve better."

Albers is a co-sponsor of the bill to create the city of South Fulton in the Georgia Senate. Another Republican, state Representative Wendell Willard (R - Sandy Springs), is co-sponsoring the city of South Fulton bill in the Georgia House.

Rep. Willard, in 2013, introduced five bills (House Resolution 275, House Resolution 276, House Resolution 277, House Resolution 278, and House Resolution 279) to bring back Milton County. None of them passed.

State Senator Vincent Fort, an Atlanta Democrat, remains opposed to creating both Milton County and the city of South Fulton.

"This is part of a Republican war to decimate Fulton County,” Fort said. “[House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan] Jones has said her intent is to decimate Fulton County so much that no one will resist the need for Milton County."

Jan Jones, for her part, doesn't exactly deny it.

“We can cut Fulton County down to size until we get Milton County,” Jones said, according to Neighbor Newspapers. "My goal is that we reduce the thumbprint ... of Fulton County on your lives and your pocketbooks such that in a very few years, Atlanta and south Fulton will not fight us on re-creating Milton County because Fulton County will be insignificant" [Edwards (23 May 2012). Battle brewing over plans to shrink Fulton government. Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved on 21 February 2015.].

The city of South Fulton, if created, would place all of Fulton County's residents under the control of local municipalities; effectively ending much of the power Fulton County government currently wields.