Clarkston had considered annexing several areas surrounding the City, and ultimately chose to formally pursue annexation of two specific districts, one to the west, crossing over to the far side of I-285, and a larger one to the northeast. The grand annexation plans were covered in this article, The Optimistic Cartographer. The vote for annexation was held in the May 20 primary, and ultimately failed, as explained in The Voters Say No to Clarkston.
Or did it?
Each area voted in separately considered votes, meaning either area could be approved by the voters without the other. In the vote, the area to the west was voted down by the overwhelming vote of 9 No to 5 Yes. The vote in the area to the northeast, around Brockett Road, was tied at 35-35. Under Georgia election laws, for the referendum to be approved, a 50% plus 1 vote is required. A tie represents a No decision, and the referendum fails.
Or does it?
After the election, Clarkston announced that there would be a runoff election to reconsider the vote on annexation in the Brockett Road area, in approximately 4 weeks. But no second vote was held in that time frame. Although surprised a runoff was even being considered, I thought it odd that they wouldn't wait for the already scheduled July 22 runoff date, particularly since the annexation was not scheduled to actually take place until the end of the year.The first supposed date for the runoff came and went without a sound. Presumably, the re-vote WAS scheduled for the July 22 runoff date.
Or was it?
There was no other notice or other activity in Clarkston, on its webpage or on the local FaceBook pages regarding a re-vote on annexation. No campaigning, no yard signs, no rallies. A quick check on election day at the Jolly Elementary precinct confirmed that no vote on annexation was scheduled that day. It's a mystery.
Or is it?
Inquiries at the Clarkston City Hall revealed some, if not all, of the truth. Although the exact sequence of events remains unknown, apparently the DeKalb County Elections Board refused to schedule the runoff vote for annexation as was requested by Clarkston. We can only presume this was due to the 50% plus 1 requirement for voter approval. As far as the Election Board was concerned, the referendum lost, and did not qualify for a revote. A recount maybe (with only 70 votes, we already know they tried that), but not a revote. Case closed.
But wait. There's more.
That wasn't good enough for Clarkston. On May 30, 2014, in case 14CV5638, the City of Clarkston brought suit against Maxine Daniels, Director, and the DeKalb County Board of Registrations and Elections, in a petition titled TO CONTEST REFERENDUM ELECTION AND COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY JUDGEMENT. The civil action is being handled by their City Attorney, who is in private practice under contract to the City. The first hearing is scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, July 24th, in the Rockdale County Superior Court, to be heard by Judge David Irwin. (A suit against a county government agency cannot be held in that same county's Superior Court.)
Your government at work.
Both the City, an its city attorney, were unable or unwilling to provide a copy of the formal petition, but promised that one would be provided in response to a Freedom of Information Request, which was duly submitted. A response was promised within a week, so stay tuned. We shall see.