In an effort to help voters prepare for the Nov. 7 elections, Atlanta Loop sent questions to candidates running for Atlanta City Council, Atlanta Mayor and Atlanta School Board. Early voting begins Oct. 16. To see district maps, click here.
1) Why are you running for office in the city of Atlanta?
Greetings my name is LaTarsha Holden, I’m a native of Atlanta. I don’t have political experience, but I am a servant leader. I made a vow to myself in honor of four children (Krystal Williams, Bobby Tillman, Amani Moss & Eric Forbes) who lost their lives due to a shooting, violence, and child abuse touch my heart dearly. I promised that after I fought for my six children to bring us out of homelessness and hopelessness that I was going to do all I can to make Atlanta a better place to live. While homeless with six children I went from a Ged to a PhD student, a 10x published author and teaching my children how to serve at our lowest time, I’m here now to keep my vow and fight for the residents of District 11. I’m bringing my personal experience, my small business experience, my education and passion to make a change.
2) What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?
I actually became the change that I wanted to see. Everything on my platform I’ve personally experienced. I understand the light of the residents in District 11.
3) What do you think is Atlanta’s greatest strength?
Atlanta is becoming more diverse, a portfolio of environmental sustainability, a city where dreams come true with the growing movie industry and the cutting edge for relocation for big corporations which we are home currently to 16 Fortune 500 companies.
4) What do you think is Atlanta’s biggest challenge?
Atlanta’s top incomes grew faster than any other US city between 2012-2013 while its lowest wages remained stagnant, making it the most unequal city in America for the second year in a row. The city’s richest 5% make roughly $228,159 per year while its poorest 20% bring in just under $15,000 resulting in an inequality ratio of 19.2 slightly higher than San Francisco’s ratio of 17.1
5) How would you address what you feel is Atlanta’s biggest challenge?
* Create middle-income housing by assisting developers in assembling land and streamlining the zoning and permitting process; create financial incentives to attract middle-income development; create incentives to attract middle-income homeowners; establish a city agency to work on this project, neighborhood by
neighborhood; and reconfigure Atlanta’s Neighborhood Planning Unit system to help in the redevelopment process.
* Improve public education by supporting the Atlanta Board of Education’s efforts and by linking school improvements with neighborhood revitalization.
* Reduce crime by increasing street patrols, implementing community policing programs and ensuring appropriate support from the courts.
* Attack poverty by continuing to support programs for job training and assistance for single mothers.
* Provide better access through public transportation to jobs throughout the metro area; increase the use of rent vouchers so poor people can lease apartments closer to available jobs; continue rebuilding Atlanta’s public housing.
* Attract and grow business in the city by having an organization like a chamber of commerce dedicated to bringing jobs and growing companies inside the city limits; energize the city’s new super-development agency to help target companies and develop incentive packages; and refocus the economic development marketing efforts of the Atlanta Empowerment Zone.
6) What are the top two or three things you plan to focus on during your term as an elected official?
Job Training / Entrepreneurial Programs
7) What is your opinion of the Atlanta Beltline? Is there anything about the project that you think should be handled differently?
The Beltline is a great idea, I just want the developers to keep their word on building close to 5,000 affordable housing.
8) What is your opinion of the Atlanta Streetcar? Is there anything about the project that you think should be handled differently?
Although they can be costly to build upfront, that cost can be offset by operational savings year to year, if the line carries enough passengers. In the log-term, streetcars can be more affordable on very high ridership routes. They provide a more comfortable ride. It’s important to know that developers rarely base decisions around bus lines, but routinely follow rail investments with real estate ones.
Before we bring it to the Campbellton Rd. corridor I would like to see revitalization first. Campbellton Rd. still looks the same thirty years ago when my family moved off of Campbellton Rd/
9) What should the city of Atlanta do to reduce traffic congestion in the city?
No single strategy can adequately address the problems of metro Atlanta congestion. However, a balanced comprehensive approach to traffic congestion can lessen the stifling gridlock found on many of our highways. Adding new physical capacity for highways, transit and railroads is an important strategy for alleviating congestion. Widening arterial roads, providing street connectivity, provide HOV lanes will help mitigate congestion. We need more traffic incident management responders clearing crashes and vehicle breakdowns.
10) What should the city do to increase affordable housing options for its residents?
We need market rate housing to give subsidized housing a fighting chance. When there are more jobs and fewer homes, we don’t have to say “supply” or “demand” to predict the result: when high-income and low-income people compete for the same homes, high-income people win, by driving up rents until no one else can afford them. When the gap between new jobs and new homes grows wider and wider, forcing the high – and low-income to compete for the same increasingly insufficient number of apartments. Even large amounts of subsidies can’t be effective if market prices stay out of control.
We need more subsidized housing, but also more market-rate housing construction, to ease the competition between high and low -income renters for the same apartments, slow rapid price increases and give housing subsidies a fighting chance to fill the remaining gap.
11) If elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner?