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?
I am running for office in Atlanta because I believe that this city is at a critical nexus in its history and if we don’t make the correct moves now we will not be able to reach our full potential. I believe that in order to make those correct moves we need leadership that has a global perspective, a mind for civic innovation, and values socioeconomic mobility and equity. I embody all three of those aspects and look to move the city forward.
2) What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?
I would have to say that the first thing that makes me better is my ability to relate in a real way to the constituents in my district. I truly enjoy my district, not just my neighborhood (downtown), and it has been the place that I have lived, worked, played, grown, and created since moving to Atlanta for college.
Secondly, I would say that my experience in economic/community development sets me apart from my opponents. By trade I am a civil servant and I have worked for the City of Atlanta in some capacity or the other. I have worked at Atlanta’s Development Authority where I gained hands on experience to many of the tools and strategies that the city used to grow the economy. I will take that intimate knowledge and use it to build even better solutions for this city.
Finally, I have already outlined my proposed solutions to many of Atlanta’s toughest challenges. Harnessing my unique understanding of urban development and economics that I attained while earning my degree in Public Policy, I have crafted solutions that are both innovative and practical.
3) What do you think is Atlanta’s greatest strength?
Atlanta’s greatest strength is certainly its people and culture. Our city’s willingness to keep fighting and progressing despite the odds has bred a culture of cooperation, fighting for inclusivity and equity, civic participation, and dreaming big. This seeps into every aspect of our city from how we do business to how we welcome visitors and it makes us unique.
4) What do you think is Atlanta’s biggest challenge?
Atlanta’s biggest challenge is finding a way to balancing its prosperity and growth with ensuring that everyone who lives in this city has a fair share and access to it.
5) How would you address what you feel is Atlanta’s biggest challenge?
I will address it in the following ways; 1. Ensuring Housing & Commercial Affordability by advocating for the adoption of an inclusionary zoning policy that does not have a buyout clause, eliminating parking minimums in development to reduce development cost, and building an incentive package around supporting developers that use the prefabricated modular construction method that cuts development costs in half and allows for developers to lower rents while retaining the same profit margins of a traditional build development.
2. Advocate for the city to establish a Department of Equity somewhere within the government structure. Such a department would be responsible for socioeconomic mobility planning for the city, which would provide a roadmap and resources to ensure that all of our residents are able to move from varying income levels to higher productivity to wealth generation.
6) What are the top two or three things you plan to focus on during your term as an elected official?
1. Housing and Commercial Affordability
2. Education, particularly working closely with APS to provide wrap around services for APS families and kids.
3. Cultural Preservation
7) What is your opinion of the Atlanta Beltline? Is there anything about the project that you think should be handled differently?
I think the BeltLine is a world class public amenity, however we have not done enough to mitigate the by-products of rapid property appreciation and the gentrification that has followed. We must implement the inclusionary zoning policy along the BeltLine to ensure that everyone has access to it and everyone can benefit from its positive effects.
8) What is your opinion of the Atlanta Streetcar? Is there anything about the project that you think should be handled differently?
The Streetcar has always been intended as the first investment to a greater light rail network that would encircle the beltline and criss-cross the city. I believe that we must continue to build out the network in order for it to be more of a viable commuter option. I also believe that we should never place a streetcar in normal traffic, it should always have a dedicated lane to achieve optimal operation efficiency. Therefore I would have fought for the city to ‘one way’ both Edgewood and Auburn avenues and created a dedicated lane along the streetcars current route.
9) What should the city of Atlanta do to reduce traffic congestion in the city?
The city should expand the light rail (streetcar) network along dedicated lane paths to provide greater options for rapid transit to commuters.
10) What should the city do to increase affordable housing options for its residents?
The city must support an inclusionary zoning policy without a buyout clause, support the development of micro units and tiny houses, support development that uses the prefabricated modular construction method, and eliminate parking minimums.
11) If elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner?
Certainly, I will be an accessible and ethical leader. Once elected, I will not disappear, I will be consistently visible in my community whether that is out going about my day, at neighborhood meetings, or at community events. I believe that one of my primary jobs as councilman is to be my district’s cheerleader and the first part to that is actually being there and enjoying what my district has to offer. This is something that comes naturally to me. Additionally, when it comes to ethics, I believe in as much independent citizen review as possible and I believe in strengthening and standardizing the NPU system.