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 know in my heart that I can bring a much-needed dose of long-term vision to City Hall, a full set of life experiences from being among the low-income, young demographic which makes up a huge and unrepresented percentage of Atlanta’s population, as well as a firey passion for ethical governance. I see no one else putting forward the kind of comprehensive, all hands on deck thinking and solutions that I’m proposing, and win or lose, it’s important that I bring these ideas to the forefront of Atlanta politics.
2) What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?
I’m the candidate best able to articulate the intersectionality of education, transportation, public safety and other areas of civic policy as they relate to empowering or stymying the growth of poor famiies, arguably the most important demographic to pay attention to in terms of measuring the city’s long term viability.
While many of my opponents clearly grasp the depth and importance of these issues singularly, I’ve yet to hear any of them articulate an understanding of how these relate to a 100-year or otherwise multi-generational plan for the city.
Finally, being young, I inevitably bring a different and necessary perspective to City Hall, and as of now, people of my age and socioeconomic status have no representation in our government.
3) What do you think is Atlanta’s greatest strength?
Atlanta’s greatest strength is it’s relative youth compared to other major cities. We benefit from many mistakes having been made before us,and being able to analyze those mistakes as they play out in real time in other cities. If you consider that in light of our land area and general economic growth trends, if we apply the lessons of those cities who have gone before us, Atlanta could feasibly have an unthinkable amount of growth and wealth ahead of it for many decades.
4) What do you think is Atlanta’s biggest challenge?
Atlanta’s biggest challenge is a lack of economic mobility. Of the 50 largest U.S. cities, Atlanta ranks dead last in terms of a person’s chances of rising out of poverty. Without addressing the extreme poverty to be found throughout District 4 and citywide, our potential growth will be stymied and all of that growth will ultimately be undone via economic decline.
5) How would you address what you feel is Atlanta’s biggest challenge?
I will address this challenge by doing everything in my power expand access to all forms and levels of quality education, so that individuals can recognize and create opportunities.
I will work to connect all neighborhoods to effective public transportation to empower our citizens to effectively pursue those opportunities.
Finally, I will cultivate the greatest possible level of citizen involvement so that the growth of the next few decades is fairly seen on all levels of society, making our city’s economy all the more stable and effective for all.
6) What are the top two or three things you plan to focus on during your term as an elected official?
I will singlehandedly bring the District 4 office into 2017 digitally, make my office’s records 100% transparent, and introduce ordinaces to make all of City Hall 100% transparent, including spending by-department, city contracts/bids, even visitor lists for lobbyists.
I will bring the full force of present laws, propose amendments, as well as rally citizens, to reclaim blighted properties from negligent landlords and have those properties condemned, or orherwise get them into the hands of more responsible owners.
I will work closely along all angles to ensure that District 4 recieves its fair share of transportation development from these increased funds, including greater route coverage, frequncy, benches, and the development of 24/7 routes. I seek to bring greater frequency, coverage and 24/7 MARTA operation citywide as well.
7) What is your opinion of the Atlanta Beltline? Is there anything about the project that you think should be handled differently?
I enjoy the concept of the Beltline, I use it regularly and I think it’s a generally positive addition to the city. That said, it has failed completely on its promise of bringing affordable housing development, and has instead become more of a tool of unethical gentrification, driving low-income homeowners from their homes with rising property taxes, all for a nice path to run and bike on. Every bit of new development along the Beltline needs to be seriously scrutinized and accepted or rejected based on its promise of creating housing and work opportunities for the low-income citizens who make up the bulk of the city’s population
8) What is your opinion of the Atlanta Streetcar? Is there anything about the project that you think should be handled differently?
I have nothing good to say about the streetcar, save the fact that they keep it well washed. The Atlanta Streetcar is a complete waste of money. It has no dedicated lanes, can’t move faster than the cars on the street, and has to stop at all the same lights. It’s an extended bus, minus the ability to dodge another vehicle. Everything that was sought to be accomplished by the streetcar can be accomplished with a high-frequency shuttle bus loop for far, far less money.
9) What should the city of Atlanta do to reduce traffic congestion in the city?
In many cases, intown traffic arteries cannot be effectively expanded more than they already are. That said, it is absolutely vital that we immediately work toward applying our increased traffic funding toward developing MARTA into a world-class, high capacity, 24/7 system which connects residents of all neighborhoods via high frequency bus and rail lines. The addition of several high-frequency shuttle bus loops would accomplish everything sought by the streetcar, allowing us to decommission it, save money and invest those savings toward improving MARTA further.
10) What should the city do to increase affordable housing options for its residents?
When it comes to large-scale developent, at each step along the approval process city council members must, both alone and with the citizenry, apply constant pressure to ensure those developments add significant numbers of affordable housing units. Upon recieving favorable commitments from developers, we must use all legal means and every level of engagement to hold developers accountable to the results.
When it comes to rental properties, the city must ensure that rents are not being unfairly hiked, epsecially on residents with low or fixed incomes, ESPECIALLY in the absence of any significant improvements to the property.
11) If elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner?
Absolutely. I will follow all laws and conduct myself ethically. Also, I intend to make Atlanta the national standard bearer in municipal government transparency.