The Sandy Springs incorporation movement began about 30 years ago. The original supporters of the Sandy Springs incorporation movement wanted Sandy Springs to be its own city because of taxes and matters of race. You see, back then unincorporated Sandy Springs was a wealthy, lily white area of North Fulton County. The City of Atlanta tried to annex unincorporated Sandy Springs. This scared the crap out of the residents of Sandy Springs because they didnâ€™t want to be controlled by the black leadership that ran the City of Atlanta. That was why they moved out of the City in the first place. Therefore, they decided the best option to stop annexation was to try to become itâ€™s own city. Even after the City of Atlanta backed off, the movement endured, and once Fulton County became majority black, the Fulton County government became the bad guy.
However, a lot has changed in Sandy Springs since 1975. First, Sandy Springs has become very urban. The City of Sandy Springs will have over 85,000 residents and will instantly become the 5th largest city in the State of Georgia. It is no longer lily white with around 25% of the population being black or Hispanic. In fact, there are predictions that Sandy Springs will be majority-minority in the next couple of decades.
Further, what was a solid Republican stronghold less than a decade ago is quicky looking more like a swing district. George Bush took about 58% of the vote in the Sandy Springs precincts in 2004 (down from 60% in 2000 while the state as a whole went from 55% for Bush in 2000 to 58% in 2004) and John Kerry actually won a majority of votes in 2 of the 6 new Sandy Springs city council districts in 2004. And the trend is more and more Democratic. And even among those who are still Republican, they are not social conservatives. The anti-gay marriage amendment only got 55% of the vote in Sandy Springs precincts (while statewide it got 76%) – with many Republican precincts voting in higher numbers against the marriage amendment than some Democratic precincts.
All of this begs the question – did the Republicans know what they were creating when they allowed Sandy Springs to incorporate? Many of the old-timers who have led the Sandy Springs movement for years (Eva Galambos and Tibby DeJulio for example) already have strong competition for mayoral and city council seats from newer residents and could get beat. Although the Sandy Springs races will be officially non-partisan, Democrats have their sights set on Sandy Springs city races for fielding candidates who want to springboard for higher office in the future … lets say running against Ed Lindsay, Wendall Willard, or Joe Wilkinson in a few years.
I predict that Republican performance in the City of Sandy Springs will continue to decline over the next few years. Cathy Cox will certainly win in Sandy Springs if she is the Democratic Gubernatorial candidate. And Sandy Springs citizens are not going to vote for Ralph Reed if he is #2 on the GOP ticket. A Perdue/Reed ticket is simply not going to be popular in Sandy Springs.
So, Democratic opportunities abound in the new City of Sandy Springs. Which makes you wonder why Republicans were so much in favor of incorporation and Democrats against it.