February 18, 2022 12:00pm

Leaders not supportive of 'constitutional carry' or Buckhead city

Most believe Fulton DA's Trump investigation is appropriate

By Nancy Badertscher

Most Georgia community leaders aren’t in favor of a bill that’s up for debate in the General Assembly to allow carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.

They also don’t support the scuttled-for-now Buckhead cityhood proposal but agree with the Fulton County district attorney’s decision to investigate former President Donald Trump’s election claims, according to the latest Georgia Power Poll.

Fifty-two percent of poll participants said eliminating the permit for concealed weapons carry could be bad for public safety. Another 26% said they were dubious that the gun bill (Senate Bill 318), sponsored by Sen. Jason Anavitarte, R-Dallas, would have any practical benefits. Seventeen percent said the bill could negatively affect the state’s ability to attract new residents and businesses. Only 5% said the bill was overdue and would affirm Georgians’ Second Amendment right.

That feedback closely aligns with what the AJC found in a January poll: seven in 10 Georgians aren’t for the bill, the premise of which is supported by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.

Most Power Poll participants were equally unenthusiastic about the push for a city of Buckhead. The measure was effectively shelved for the session on Feb. 11 when House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan joined a growing chorus of Republicans, saying Atlanta’s new mayor should be given time to try to curb the city’s violent crime.

Roughly 70% of the state’s community leaders feel the creation of a city of Buckhead is a bad idea, with 43 percent saying they envision a harmful scenario that could hurt Atlanta’s reputation as a world-class city and economic hub. Twenty-six percent said a new city could spell trouble for the part of Atlanta left behind. Twenty percent were more positive about the proposal, saying residents of the Buckhead area should have the right to govern themselves. Another 11 percent said the rest of Atlanta and Fulton County would be able to adjust.

Jeff Iannone, president and CEO of AIM Associates in Savannah, said he believes Buckhead’s desire for independence is “a reflection of the overall attitude of this country.”

“They pay the vast majority of the taxes for the benefit of others, while not getting adequate protection and so forth,” he wrote in an email to Power Poll. “This will no doubt hurt the City of Atlanta, but that is their fault for diverting so much from the Buckhead community for so long.”

Randy Lewis, managing director, Fitzpatrick & Lewis Public Relations in Atlanta, weighed in, saying, “the concerns of Buckhead residents are legitimate. "Daily stories in the AJC detail Atlanta's descent into a dystopian hellscape," he said. "Nothing undermines the stability of a community faster than unchecked street crime. Buckhead becoming a city is not the only way to destroy Atlanta."

On the topic of the former president, more than half of the poll participants said they believe Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is right to investigate his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.

Willis has made national headlines with news that she plans to convene a special grand jury and is dubious of Trump’s claim that he can’t be prosecuted for potential crimes committed during his time in office. The district attorney launched her investigation after Trump’s call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, urging the Republican to “find” votes to overturn the election results.

Power Poll participants were asked they asked to say whether they thought the DA was politically grandstanding, undertaking an effort to “appropriately investigate” the president’s widely reported actions, or withholding judgment to see where the process leads.

Thirty percent of community leaders said they considered it grandstanding, while 54% said they believe Willis’ investigation is appropriate and another 16% said they were withholding judgment.

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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