Despite a defeat in the state legislature last week, Buckhead City proponents said Wednesday they will press forward with their controversial leader, Bill White.

“This movement, Buckhead City, will never end,” White said at a press conference, which drew a small crowd to the headquarters of the Buckhead City Committee on Peachtree Road. “It is not going to end. We will never give up. We will never give into the city of Atlanta and their coordinated effort to deny our vote for cityhood.”

Buckhead City advocates had hoped to get legislation passed this year to place a referendum on the 2022 ballot. That would have given Buckhead residents a chance to vote on whether to form a new city.

But last week, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston essentially blocked any cityhood bills from moving forward in the Georgia General Assembly this year.

White, who will continue to serve as CEO and chairman of the Buckhead City Committee, on Wednesday gave few details about the group’s strategy or political path forward. White did say the group has raised $2 million and planned to do more fundraising. He also mentioned receiving a $25,000 donation that day.

“We believe this delay in allowing our vote will put lives, property, businesses, commerce and the already vastly diminished quality of life in Buckhead at severe risk,” White said. “Any delay.”

Pro-cityhood speakers at the event included Niko Karatassos of Buckhead Life Restaurant Group; 95.5 WSB radio personality MalaniKai; former state Rep. Beth Beskin; and state Sen. Randy Robertson.

“The citizens have a right to vote,” said Robertson, R-Cataula, who represents a western Georgia district that includes LaGrange. “Do not surrender your right to vote.”

In January, White had been widely criticized in the media for retweeting and then deleting a post from VDARE.com, a website associated with white nationalists.

He caught backlash again in February for tweeting about former MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker, who died by suicide in January. White was asked to address that tweet by a reporter at the press conference, but he claimed not to hear the question and moved on.

White has also declined to show up at recent debates, telling Reporter Newspapers that he refused to sit opposite former Rep. Edward Lindsey, co-founder of cityhood opposition group Committee for A United Atlanta.

White, at the press conference, took limited questions from reporters. Thomas Wheatley of Axios Atlanta tried to ask why the group is keeping White as CEO as he walked off, hearing back from the crowd “Why not?”

Amy Wenk

Amy Wenk is Editor of Reporter Newspapers. She can be reached at editor@reporternewspapers.net