(VIDEO) DeKalb Strong fundraiser draws residents, lacks politicians

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt September 18, 2015
DeKalb Strong President Marjorie Snook speaks at a fundraiser at Napoleons on Sept. 17, 2015. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

DeKalb Strong President Marjorie Snook speaks at a fundraiser at Napoleons on Sept. 17, 2015. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

DeKalb Strong, the group leading campaign against creating new cities in DeKalb County held its own fundraiser on Thursday, Sept. 17, at Napoleons Grill on LaVista Road.

One person in attendance, who only identified herself as Sharon, grabbed a “No” yard sign to take home.

“I just can’t think of a good reason to do it,” she said of the cityhood proposals. “I’m not convinced it’s a good idea.”

There are two proposed cities on the ballot Nov. 3. LaVista Hills and Tucker.

LaVista Hills would have over 65,000 people. It would be bordered on the north and west sides by I-85 and bisected by I-285. Tucker would have a population of over 30,000 people. Its western border would be I-285 and its southern boundary would be portions of Stone Mountain Freeway and East Ponce de Leon Avenue.

The LaVista Hills proposal has been the more contentious of the two, and has received much of DeKalb Strong’s attention.

There were several notable contrasts between the Sept. 17 fundraiser and a recent fundraiser held by supporters of creating a new city of LaVista Hills.


The room wasn’t as quiet as it was on Aug. 26 when the LaVista Hills Alliance gathered in a private room at the 57th Fighter Group Restaurant. At times DeKalb Strong President Marjorie Snook contended with the noise of other restaurant patrons enjoying their meals.

The LaVista Hills fundraiser drew elected officials from nearly every city in DeKalb. The DeKalb Strong fundraiser was lacking in that department. The closest the fundraiser had to a politician was former County Commissioner Gale Walldorff.

About 50 people showed up to the DeKalb Strong event and the suggested minimum donation to the cause was $50. LaVista Hills had them beat on that one, too, holding a fundraiser in a crowded room with a $500 minimum.

There weren’t any potential vendors interested in bidding on city contracts in the room. The event mainly drew people who were fine with living in the county, thanks, and weren’t interested in being a part of any new city. The current state of affairs in DeKalb County, with a government deemed “rotten to the core” by the man county officials hired to investigate it, is one of the main planks in the pro-cityhood movement platform.

DeKalb Strong doesn’t disagree that the county is a mess. It just doesn’t agree that a new city will solve the problems that county government has either created or is unable to fix.

Snook was the only speaker at the Sept. 17 event.

“We believe that this plan … all that ends up leading to is higher taxes, more politicians, more traffic, and fewer police,” Snook said. “Our opponents in this who are advocating to create a city, had a $500 a plate fundraiser (a few) weeks ago for vendors who want to do business with a new city and make money off having a new layer of government. … We do not have the corporate donors, and we cannot promise any kind of government contracts to anybody, but we have the numbers.”

Melissa Montgomery, a DeKalb Strong volunteer, said she’s been anti-cityhood since 2013, when the LaVista Hills plan was comprised of two competing cities: Lakeside and Briarcliff. She said, “DeKalb is OK with me.”

“I choose to live in unincorporated DeKalb County because I didn’t want to pay city taxes,” she said.

Frank Ranew, a former Atlanta Journal Constitution editor, said he’s been reading the news stories about the plan.

“I’ve just come down to the conclusion that this is a bad idea,” he said, adding that residents should, “Fix the government we have in place.”

Angela Trosclair, who lives in the proposed city of Tucker, said there’s plenty of opposition to that idea, too.

“We need to fix what we have,” she said. “Over 99 percent of our taxes are still going to be with the county. We need to fix the county.”

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

  • DecaturMax

    Dekalb Strong, how does a new city cause more traffic? Would this be because of renovated commercial? Do you oppose renovating commercial property?
    Being that Lavista Hills is 99% developed, where is this traffic coming from?

    I think it just sounds scary, so you use it.

    • Marjorie Snook

      Increased density, which is what they use to grow government. Look at all the new cities. They’re nightmares.

      Well, except Chattahoochee Hills. They’re just broke.

      • TRRickman

        I continue to be totally baffled by statements like these. Your group thinks that stagnancy is good and smart growth is bad? The new development on Dresden is on a Marta line, there’s a grocery store, shops, restaurants within walking distance. I probably drive down that road 8 times a week at all different times and have never experienced any “nightmare” traffic, what and where are you talking about?

        This might surprise you but the outlined area of La Vista Hills and Brookhaven are hot commodities because of their proximity to Atlanta. Cityhood or not, development is inevitable and if you ask me, loooong overdue in this area. It’s an embarrassment that to get to my beautiful and well-kept Oak Grove neighborhood where the median price tag is $500,000 you have to drive past crumbling tire shops on Clairmont with a pot hole riddled, broken down shopping center full of questionable “nightclubs” on the other side. And then we have the lovely drive to downtown Decatur (another nightmare city to you, right?) on Lawrenceville Highway, where we can gaze on more tire shops, empty car dealerships and goodwill donation centers- not to mention a pathetic mall which boasts the Golden Corral as the newest and shiniest business. Even though it’s been like this for decades under the hand of Dekalb County, why should this always stay the status quo? Don’t you all want better for your community? Dekalb County will NOT give this to you and even if you were somehow able to infiltrate south Dekalb, change the minds and hearts of every voting citizen to quit electing career criminals, it will take years before we get some reasonable economic development around our area. Forget that, I’m voting yes.

        • RAJ

          Let’s give Lawrenceville Highway a chance…I am…improvements take the time and effort of the property owners and the neighborhoods; they complement and rely on one another to be jointly successful….DeKalb Strong just can’t see Cities as messengers of positive change.

      • DecaturMax

        Many of the townhomes in Brookhaven have replaced apartments. Going from apartments to townhomes does not create more traffic if the number of units are similar. Ashford Dunwoody and Peachtree Rd were a a mess long before the City of Brookhaven. This is Rhetoric not based on real numbers. 500k townhomes and new mixed use communities replacing apartments and obsolete commercial property does not sound so bad. Does it?

    • Susan In NoMansLand

      Brookhaven has been a great example of approving higher-density housing. More condos, more town houses, more people, more traffic. We have already seen a large amount of infill development in central DeKalb. LVH wants to take over zoning, ostensibly to give more say to the residents. But when you look at the high-density growth of Brookhaven, this didn’t ring true.

  • Cities Are Bad

    No politicians because they are all too busy lining their pockets from lavista hills people wanting to control everything. Surprised that Parent was not there or Oliver as they both have done some sort of legislation or tried to have some legislation done to keep these cities from happening. Maybe they don’t want to be seen as supporting those that are against the cities since som many spoke in favor of it so the law could be written. Keel DeKalb Strong and keep these cities out. You will be better off with less government involved inyour life. Those that want parks go where there are parks to begin with.

    • Marjorie Snook

      You are doing a fantastic job of trolling, but I’m not buying it. Good try, though; this persona is more amusing than the many., many fake personas cityhood proponents make to spread false information, bolster their numbers, and attempt to make us look bad.

      I don’t know a single supporter who holds your bizarre combination of racist, anti code-enforcement, anti-park, pro corruption views.

      • Cities Are Bad

        You know at least one and one well enough to receive a donation from and to put a sign in my yard on the front and on the side yard. I am not a fake person a fake person is one that nods their head and agrees with you and then says you disagree with them. This kind of hurts my feelings.

        • Marjorie Snook

          I’m really sorry to hurt your feelings. I have the yard sign lust; email me which house is yours and I will come apologize in person.

    • Marjorie Snook

      But to speak to your point–far more people were at the Vapitol speaking against this than for it. It’s why they had to get a rep without a single constituent in this area to drop the bill.

  • Tom B. Doolittle

    Hi “cities are bad”.

    Just to clarify what Oliver and Parent are doing might explain why they are not attending EITHER DeKalb Strong or LH meetings. These pols now have legislation (actually Oliver is a co-sponsor of House leg, Parent is leading the similar Senat leg) which clarifies the inherent conflict between the laws of new city formation and annexation. The Senate legislation is also to redirect the requirements for new city advocacy groups and make sure New City formation is indeed desired by a majority of residents–and what boundaries are appropriate (what defines a “community of interest”–including a historical basis requirement.

    These are technically not “anti-new city” legislative efforts–and they don’t necessarily slow down the process–they make proponents VALIDATE their movement in the pre-referendum (placeholder) time period. This shift from legislation impeding new cities is needed because its a necessary step in bringing new city formation process’ inherent POLITICAL emphasis in line with long-standing and time-tested REGULATORY regime of annexation.

    • Bernie

      Tom, can you give us the bill numbers of the Oliver and Parent legislation you describe? Thanks.

  • Timothy A. Hand

    I think it’s easy to say “why change, everything is great” when you live in Decatur Proper. I live South of Memorial, an exact demarcation of where you can see the flow of tax dollar stopping. Everything North of Memorial has beautiful streets, plenty of working street lights, nice sidewalks. South of Memorial, not so much. My address says Decatur, but I do not live where it is greater. I hope the Green Haven project comes through and we secede from Decatur as well.

    • Marjorie Snook

      Greenhaven will not take on roads. They can’t afford it. They won’t have police; they can’t afford it. While this city plan is bad for us here, it’s even worse for y’all.

      Greenhaven has the same amount of commercial property as LVH, with 4 times the people. Separate will not be equal.

      • Timothy A. Hand

        But we aren’t equal already. The people in the Green Haven area have nothing to lose since we don’t get anything anyway. It’s the people of Decatur proper who have something to lose, by way of tax revenue that we give them. Well, I’d maybe like a little revitalization down South of Memorial. Maybe I’d like some better sidewalks and less potholes and trash guys who will actually pick up, instead of having to call it every week. I guess I just dont make enough for them to care about me. I suppose I should add a couple of more 0’s to my annual salary and then they might starting caring.

        • Marjorie Snook

          The Greenhaven proposal does not affect sidewalks, potholes, or sanitation.

          You do have something to lose. The cityhood proposals drain police resources from your area.

          • Timothy A. Hand

            I didn’t know I had police resources to begin with. I had a drug dealer across the street from me for two years and when I reported it, nothing happened. Then when the drug dealer ran out on the landlady, the police later showed up to a complaint about squatters. To their surprise, they said it must of previously been a drug den, which is what I had been telling them for years. Not to mention, when a drunk driver drove through my yard and did $1000 worth of damage, the cop just let them walk and got their information wrong in the report. I tried for 3 weeks to get in touch with the officer but nothing. His mistake cost me a grand. The South Dekalb PD is a joke, and this is also affirmed by a friend of mine who is no longer in the force. This is but two examples of my disappointment with SDPD. I have several other, which I am sure would only be redundant to this point.

          • Susan In NoMansLand

            I’m confused by what you mean by “Decatur proper.” That phrase *should* be used to refer to the,actual city limits of the City of Decatur, but you seem to be using it to refer to unincorporated central DeKalb. The areas that are in the maps for LaVista Hills and Tucker are NOT “Decatur proper.” They are unincorporated central DeKalb. My address also ssys Decatur, but I’m in Decatur proper (the City of Decatur). I’m also not going to be in LaVista Hills, Tucker, OR Greenhaven, because my neighborhood is left off of ALL the maps. ALL these cityhood proposals will be detrimental to me, because we will be stuck in the middle of all of them with NO SERVICES from ANYONE.

          • Cities Are Bad

            Ifyou are in the city of Decatur you get services from the city already. You would not be in any new city map becaue you are already in one. Decatur is not serviceing you now? You should ask to be removed if thy don’t give you any business.

          • RAJ

            Everyone please keep in mind that city services can change over time to meet changing needs…..something DeKalb Strong seems to ignore in the face of a changing County. Most of the people supporting DeKalb Strong are benefiting from, or have benefitted from the status quo in the past or have spent so little time informing themselves about County operations that their opinions are worth very little.

      • Bernie

        Marjorie, what you’re really saying is that you know the best interests of the Greenhaven area better than its residents and businesspersons. I know you mean well, but that sort of thinking is kind of patronizing, especially when you fall back on the loaded term, “separate but equal”. The predominantly African-American residents of Greenhaven should be allowed to determine their own future.

        • Tom B. Doolittle

          sure–the links are in my article: enjoy


          oh–btw–I have some good pieces coming out on the Doraville TAD. County’s giving away the store again.

        • travelingfool

          Please, please, please leave me out of Greenhaven. The worst idea of all. Yes, it was a bit patronizing, but the it’s true. LaVista is taking their tax base with them and there just isn’t enough in Greenhaven to make it viable. Work within Dekalb to make it better. From what I’ve seen of the Greenhaven leader, which are mostly folks that DIDN’T get voted on Dekalb Commissioner, I’m not impressed and wouldn’t want them as my leader.

  • Pam Rosenberg

    I would like to see the plan for fixing the County. DeKalb County has been mired in corruption, poor management and inferior services for longer than I have been alive.
    Where is the guarantee that DeKalb County will be “fixed” in my lifetime or my children and grandchildren’s lifetime? Past and present behavior predicts future behavior. I would rather have some control over a smaller area, than count on this “fix” happening any time soon. I was born and raised in a city of 50,000 people that operated extremely well and continues to do so today.
    I say YES to Cityhood.

  • Jan Atlanta

    If a company is allowing their employee to use work time to oppose LaVista Hills, is this an in-kind donation? Or if an opponent’s father is funding her effort, is that also reported?

  • Jan Atlanta

    Does anyone have an opinion about an attorney and former judge, who is presenting for DeKalb Strong at a neighborhood debate in the near future, calling LVH supporters “crooks” on Facebook? And folks wonder why a handful of DS supporters are banned from either of the LVH supporter FB pages?

  • Jan Atlanta

    Are IRS attorneys allowed to post continuously on Facebook while at work?

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