Smyrna council supports mayoral veto of Hispanic heritage event

Smyrna City Hall in article about Hispanic Heritage exhibitSmyrna City Hall (photo by Larry Felton Johnson, Licensed under Creative Commons 4.0)

The Smyrna city council supported, by a 5-2 vote, a veto by Mayor Max Bacon of a previously approved Hispanic heritage event which would have been held in the city Friday, Oct. 11.

Bacon’s stated reason was simply that the event conflicted with another event, the Smyrna parks department’s fall Casper carnival and movie. The official veto statement read that Bacon thought the event “may not have been in the best interest of the city.”

He elaborated following Monday night’s council meeting.

“I don’t have any issue with them having that event, what I had an issue with was having it at the same time as the Casper Halloween event,” Bacon said. “I thought it wasn’t planned very well and there was a lack of information, so I said, ‘look here’s the skinny. You can do it, I just prefer that it not be on the same day.’”

Because the Casper and heritage events were both listed under the same agenda item, both were vetoed. The Casper event made its way back onto the agenda for Monday’s meeting, but the second event was not listed.

Ward 3 council member Maryline Blackburn attempted to re-introduce the Hispanic heritage item back onto the agenda. Her motion was seconded by Ward 5’s Susan Wilkinson, but all five of the remaining council members voted no.

Blackburn said she felt there was more to the decision than scheduling.

“We have a community of 56,000 people. Forty-eight percent are African American, 13 percent are Hispanic, 3 percent are Asian,” she said. “When are we going to get the picture that it is time for us to embrace our diversity?”

Blackburn also said previous attempts to plan a black heritage month event and a gay pride festival in Smyrna were also unsuccessful. She noted that the Hispanic heritage event was actually approved before the veto, so planning was well underway.

“It had already been approved, and now you’re throwing a monkey wrench in it,” she said. “You say that we’re a diverse community. Show it.”

During public comment, longtime Smyrna resident Pat Burns made similar comments.

“Casper is as outdated as spats, spittoons, President Eisenhower and some of the apparent values of our elected leaders,” she said. “It appears you approve only status quo events like football, Saint Patrick’s Day, Christmas and Jonquils but not what your Unity Task Force has suggested, be it black history, pride or Hispanic recognitions.”

Bacon said that he’s never had a veto overridden, and that until that night he’d never had a veto even come back up for a vote.

“I think I made the right decision to veto it and I appreciate the five [council members] who supported me,” he said, then noted how long was left in his mayoral run. “We need to move forward, and I want my next 111 days to be good days.”

Haisten Willis is a freelance writer who lives in Smyrna with his wife, daughter and dog. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from California State University, Fresno, serves on the board of SPJ Georgia and even rides a bike when time allows.

9 Comments on "Smyrna council supports mayoral veto of Hispanic heritage event"

  1. Bacon is fried….he has no idea how well the plans were coming along for the Hispanic Heritage event. It was planned to boost Casper attendance. Casper is tired and dated but together the two events would compliment each other. This is another example of Smyrna’s city council ignoring the Vision Plan put together by citizens and leadership.

    The most honorable of men once said, “If not now when?”

  2. I thought Smyrna was a progressive city looking toward the future of inclusiveness. The leaders of the council need to lead these efforts and support their community as a whole.

  3. Pat Burns doesn’t even live in the City of Smyrna. She lives in Cobb County.

  4. Bryan Marquardt | September 17, 2019 at 4:30 pm | Reply

    What happened to Pat Burns and my follow up comments?!?!

  5. Correct, I never say I live in the city limits of Smyrna but have a 30 plus year Smyrna address and am a Smyrna stake holder. Smyrna where I shop, bank, kids attend school and worship….”An injustice to one is an injustice all.”.

  6. many years ago there was a kerfuffle in the community because of some noise ordinance and conflicts with some Hispanic Latinx construction workers. I think that it was in 2000. The librarian in Smyrna asked me to create a photo exhibit showcasing contributions of the Hispanic Latinx community in Cobb county and it was shown in the library lobby. Firemen, police, restaurant staff, lawyers, realtors, business owners, landscapers and many others participated and their photos and stories were displayed. Wow…I believe Bacon was serving as mayor back then…and here we are again ….in another diversity donnybrook…Culture is relevant because our past brings us to our present and hopefully sets a path to our future. Celebrating the positive attributes, food, music, art, poetry, theatre, dance, etc. is an opportunity to create unity or simply to get people out and about, spending money, taking advantage of a pretty day and if a government entity like the city in north Georgia that permitted a rally by authorizing a permit to a convicted felon with white nationalist ties..well Smyrna, a festival with Latinx Hispanic food, music and culture does not sound too bad.

  7. Mechelle Thomas | September 18, 2019 at 3:20 pm | Reply

    This is very disappointing. With all that is happening with Sterigenics, we should come together and support what makes Smyrna great…our diversity. Once more data point influencing our consideration to leave Smyrna.

  8. Marissa Maldonado | September 19, 2019 at 8:35 pm | Reply

    This is really disappointing. It’s insulting that they would cancel the event after it had already been approved and planning was underway. Here’s hoping we have a fighting chance with new officials coming in to office this coming season.

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