SOUTH FULTON, Ga. - Several South Fulton Council Members fired back at the city’s mayor and explained why they insist on city council aides and support the city's new seal.
Council members Khalid Kamau, Naeema Gillard, and Rosie Jackson told FOX 5 News they have been building consensus as council members and believe Mayor Bill Edwards has circumvented their efforts by vetoing legislation.
"The mayor has vetoed things that the majority of council has voted on, and that majority has gone from 4 to 5 to 6 with the city seal. So, when you have 6 out of 7 council members in agreement about things and they are getting vetoed by the mayor. It undermines our consensus, Council member Khalid stated.
The three council members said they support the same key issues, which includes the city's new seal. Some including Mayor Edwards are skeptical that the seal includes religious symbols like the Ankh and the Eagle which could open the city up to litigation or shut off economic opportunities for the city.
The council members also support hiring part time constituent aides for all seven council members, at $40,000 each. The mayor vetoed hiring the aides and was concerned that the part time positions could be comparable to the pay of full-time public safety employees.
Council Member Naeema Gilyard insists the aides, which would make $40,000 part-time, will play a vital role.
"One of our major resources that we need as council folks are people to help us in our communities to respond to the many, many complaints and questions that our constituents have," said the District 4 representative.
Councilwoman Gilyard quickly points to a flow chart the city clerk provided that she said proves the aides were not the council's idea. She said they merely restructured the formation those assistants would take.
Council Member Khalid said he is taking issue with many of the city's new hires, claiming there is just not enough money to support such exorbitant salaries.
"Most of the people that are walking in as department heads are making six figures or near six figures. Some of them didn't have anyone else to interview for the job. Our median income in South Fulton is around $43K versus $75-$100K in places like Sandy Springs, the youngest member of council affirmed. He plans to introduce legislation to cut already established department head salaries.”
Council Member Rosie Jackson said there is "cronyism" in the new city, but she made it clear the so-called "Voting Block of Four" has no parts of that.
The three elected officials said it is important for the city's 100,000 residents to understand what is really going in South Fulton.
"We have an opportunity to be different, to think outside of the box and make things happen in our city," Council Member Gilyard affirmed.