I believe in you!

Ben Nelms's picture

It is with great difficulty that I must let the readers of the South Fulton Citizen know that this edition will be the last one our company produces.

While our four other weekly papers will continue to operate in Fayette and Coweta counties, the South Fulton edition will cease operations due to the ongoing lack of the advertising revenue that is critical to continued publishing. And as one who reports on the news of your communities, I can find few words to adequately express the sorrow I feel today.

I would like to take a minute to share some thoughts on south Fulton and its people. These are thoughts for which I hope you will give serious consideration. They directly involve local governments, citizens and your future.

I moved back to the Atlanta area three years ago to write primarily for the South Fulton Citizen. To have done so for these brief years has been a privilege that I will not forget. Nor will I forget you. The realities you face and the hopes and dreams for your communities are indelibly imprinted in my mind and heart. You deserve the best, and it is up to you to obtain it.

Every local government in south Fulton and in America faces its own particular set of trials and successes. Some in elected office strive serve the people while others are content to serve their egos and business interests. I hope the elected officials of south Fulton will always serve people, not power.

A good way to provide a distinction between the two is for those in elected office to be willing to stand on the razor’s edge of scrutiny, so that communication, transparency and accountability become second nature.

Citizens also have a part to play in the running of local government. There is nothing inappropriate with scrutinizing local government, but that scrutiny should be based in objectivity, not subjectivity. It is right to demand a high degree of accountability, transparency and communication from elected leaders, but it is not right to carry a personal grudge and use it to fuel dissent. This holds true for everyone, whether elected or elector.

I challenge all the communities to objectively evaluate your own areas, examine your strengths and evaluate your needs. Accept no substitute for effective leadership and work to bring south Fulton into the future it deserves.

Honestly, I have seen some of you occasionally buying in to the “downtrodden masses” point of view that can only lead to apathy and defeat. If you believe in something, fight for it and be “inspired above the surface parade of those dressed up in power.”

A brand new organization, the South Fulton Civic Association, has just formed and has at its genesis a broad membership from across nearly all of south Fulton, including cities and the unincorporated area.

Unlike many non-profit, community organizations that accomplish only a limited degree of success, I hope that SFCA can far exceed the norm and can build to have significant, positive impact across all of south Fulton while working with governments and other organized citizens’ groups.

Taken as a whole, South Fulton possesses a destiny that can rival any and every area of metro Atlanta. It was no mistake that I began calling your home the Diamond of metro Atlanta nearly three years ago on these pages.

And if the unincorporated area gets the chance to vote to have a township, do it and never look back. You have plenty of residents who, on the township’s planning commission, would help ensure only quality development, like the leadership in Fairburn, Chatt Hills and the new Palmetto are doing. Union City could learn a lesson from these.

And if all of south Fulton ever gets the opportunity to vote to form a new county, do it and never look back. Fulton County’s criminal justice and court system is screwed up almost beyond belief.

This is exactly why your cops have such a hard time keeping criminals off the street after they’ve committed crimes. The system puts them right back in your neighborhoods.

With your own county you get your own criminal justice system. With your own county you get complete local control with no more of your destiny controlled by those from Atlanta and north Fulton, people who rarely, if ever, darken your door.

You are mostly cities today in south Fulton; having your own county is a logical extension of that line of thinking. Elect all your county commissioners from within your ranks. Take control of your future and never look back.

Make no mistake, it is only vision that will ensure your future. Vision is the progeny of conviction from the heart and the courage to live it.

I say all these things as someone who has nothing to lose and nothing to gain. There is something else I need to say, and it’s personal.

I’ve had the privilege to meet and spend time with a lot of you during the past three years, at endless community events, in city halls, on your streets and in your homes. My new assignments will take me away from your communities, your lives, your hopes and your dreams.

But one thing remains constant. I love south Fulton and I believe in south Fulton and its future. I believe in you!

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