Yard signs that say “Buckhead Counts!” are beginning to dot local neighborhoods.

Buckhead resident Sally Riker has launched the effort in hopes of increasing voter turnout in the upcoming November election, which will decide the next Atlanta mayor and multiple City Council and Board of Education seats.

Riker, president of the Mt. Paran-Northside Citizens Association, said she was shocked to learn about the low voter participation in the last election and felt compelled to do something positive for her community.

Sally Riker, president of the Mt. Paran-Northside Citizens Association.

“To me, it’s just simply unacceptable,” Riker said. “You’re impacted day to day, in my opinion, with what happens on the local level … How can we get more people to turn out and use their voice at the polls?”

For example, in the 2017 election, there were 29,210 residents registered to vote in District 8, according to stats from Councilmember J.P. Matzigkeit. Just under 11,400, or 39%, cast a ballot for mayor. The numbers were lower for the District 8 council race, at 8,491 votes or 29% of eligible voters.

Riker said the numbers trended about the same in her own neighborhood. There are about 3,200 voters in the Mt. Paran-Northside neighborhood. In 2017, only 1,217 voted, she said.

“I was just shocked at how low,” she said. “Where are those 2,000 people?”

Riker decided to start a campaign, branding the effort “Buckhead Counts!” So far, she’s distributed about 175 yard signs. And she created an electronic flyer with easy-to-use QR codes to help people access voter information, including how to check their poll location and registration status.

“By getting these signs out in our communities throughout Buckhead, hopefully that will increase awareness,” Riker said. “There is an important vote. Take note and get out there and vote.”

Riker, a partner at Lowe Engineers, is no stranger to community service. She’s involved with groups including ULI Atlanta and the Council for Quality Growth. She’s also active locally in the Society of American Military Engineers. In 2020, she was honored by Atlanta Business Chronicle as part of its “Women Who Mean Business” awards.

“I love being able to help make a difference and an impact in our world,” she said. “I love Atlanta. I love where I live, and I just take a lot of pride in helping it to be the best place that we can.”

If you are interested in getting a yard sign, contact Riker at sally.riker@loweengineers.com. She just asks people to cover the cost of the sign. It’s $11 for one sign.

Amy Wenk

Amy Wenk was editor of Reporter Newspapers in 2021-22.