Stonecrest Mayor joins Vista Grove teamJason Lary. Photo obtained via Facebook.
The Vista Grove Initiative has announced that Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary is joining its efforts to create a new DeKalb County city.
“As someone who knows from experience the benefits a city can bring to the overall strength of both local communities and DeKalb as a whole, Jason Lary is an excellent addition to our legislative efforts, and we’re grateful for his support,” the Vista Grove initiative said in an email to supporters. “He was elected Stonecrest’s first mayor in 2017 and worked diligently for years to establish a city to represent his DeKalb community.”
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports Lary could earn about $10,000 lobbying for Vista Grove. Andrew Flake, a board member with the Vista Grove Initiative, said Lary’s salary is in line with what Vista Grove paid another lobbyist, Brad Carver, last year.
“Having both Brad and Mayor Lary assisting underscores Vista Grove’s non-partisan message,” the email from Vista Grove says. “Vista Grove is a non-partisan effort, just as the issues a city of Vista Grove would address, like improving infrastructure, building community, and fostering smart economic development, are non-partisan issues. Both Jason Lary and Brad Carver are experienced in identifying common grounds and working on practical solutions with both Republican and Democratic legislators. We hope to get as much bipartisan legislative support for a Vista Grove bill as possible, and we believe working with both sides of the aisle is the best way to accomplish that goal.”
Andrew Flake said money to pay the lobbyists has been raised through community fundraising efforts.
“I believe he really underscores what we’ve been saying about a bipartisan approach,” Flake said of Vista Grove Initiative’s decision to hire Lary.
He said the Vista Grove bill doesn’t currently have a sponsor.
“We are actively talking to legislators and looking for sponsors,” Flake said.
Flake said the group is at a “big disadvantage” because the Vista Grove area is represented by several different members of the Legislature and none of them have a large share of the population that would become part of Vista Grove.
“If the test is ‘Do a majority of my constituents support this?’, we are at a substantial disadvantage because no one legislator represents a majority of Vista Grove,” Flake said. “We instead have at least seven legislators who represent a small part of the footprint. It is also another example of not having a single voice, like other cities do, for this community.”
Flake said there is broad community support for the proposal just going off the number of people who voted in favor of Lavista Hills in 2015. That cityhood effort failed, while Tucker’s incorporation effort passed overwhelmingly. He also says there are people who weren’t sure about cityhood when LaVista Hills was being discussed who are in favor of it now.
Vista Grove’s proposed map has similar boundaries to the LaVista Hills map.
The cityhood effort also has another challenge: following the Nov. 6 election, no more Republicans are in the DeKalb County legislative delegation. That means cityhood bills have lost their greatest champions, notably state Sen. Fran Millar, who lost his seat to Sally Harrell.
Then there’s DeKalb Strong, the group that fought LaVista Hills tooth and nail and can credibly claim to have contributed to its defeat.
The group is coordinating its efforts against Vista Grove, ordering yard signs and planning meetings of people opposed to the effort. The group is also against the creation of a new city of Greenhaven in South DeKalb.
“No state legislator has yet agreed to sponsor either Greenhaven or Vista Grove, but the lobbyists are putting pressure on them Legislators need to hear from citizens that they are opposed,” an email from DeKalb Strong to supporters says. “Please contact your legislator and tell them you do NOT wish to be put into one of these cities.”