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 because I believe Atlanta City Council, District 1, deserves and must have the efficient and equitable delivery of city services. District 1 cannot be an after-thought or a lesser priority for city resources…for any reason.
I am running to provide responsive leadership and representation for every resident of District 1, regardless of the location of their neighborhood, economic status, gender orientation, or any other factors.
I am running because the sum total of my experience as a consumer of city services, a city employee, a consultant to municipal governments, service on civic and municipal boards, as well as, my military service, have effectively prepared me as the best person to represent District 1, and work to make Atlanta the best place on the planet for all residents to live, work, and recreate.
2) What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?
The sum total of my professional experience, community service/advocacy, and education make me a better candidate than my opponents. My commitment to be of service dates back to 1983 when I began my career as a U.S. Army officer. I served our country for 20 years performing in various leadership roles and as a strategic planner. I retired from the U.S. Army in 2004 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and subsequently opened a small business which provided technical assistance to municipal and state governments in the areas emergency preparedness, disaster planning, and physical security. In 2005, I offered myself for public service in the City of Sandy Springs, GA, when I ran for Sandy Springs City Council. Although I did not win the election, I did take the race to a runoff and obtained 46 percent of the votes in that effort. As a result of my demonstrated commitment to serve the community, I was appointed to the City of Sandy Springs, Board of Zoning Appeals, where I served for four years. During that same period I served on the Atlanta Fulton County Land Bank Authority Board. Most recently, I served the residents of the City of Atlanta as an administrator responsible for the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department’s Performance Management Program. Additionally, I served on the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Commission for Natural Disaster Preparedness, in the aftermath of the severe winter storm that crippled the city in 2014. I have served on several nonprofit boards, to include serving as Commander, Atlanta Chapter, of the Military Order of World Wars. I am a former member of the Sandy Springs Rotary Club. I possess a master’s degree in Public Administration from Auburn University Montgomery. In summary, my service and experiences as a U.S. Army officer; experiences working with municipal governments as a technical expert; my service as a City of Atlanta director; service in the community and collaboration with community organizations; as well as, my education and demonstrated expertise in Public Administration make me the best candidate to serve the residents and community members of District 1.
3) What do you think is Atlanta’s greatest strength?
I think Atlanta’s greatest strength is spirit of community cooperation, collaboration and commitment that prevails among its diverse population and the collective resiliency of the city to overcome challenges.
4) What do you think is Atlanta’s biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge Atlanta is confronted with is the efficient delivery of city services as the city continues to grow as a result of new residents moving into the city and annexations. The strategy for solving the issues related to service delivery and city growth the city currently confronts in some departments includes the re-evaluation, and possibly realignment of service delivery territories and reporting districts, leveraging technology through the efficient integration and monitoring/visibility of logical systems, and consideration of public private partnerships in the delivery of selected city services.
5) How would you address what you feel is Atlanta’s biggest challenge?
The strategy for addressing the issues related to service delivery and city growth the city currently confronts in some departments includes the re-evaluation, and possibly realignment of service delivery territories and reporting districts, leveraging technology through the efficient integration and monitoring/visibility of logical systems, and consideration of public private partnerships in the delivery of selected city services.
6) What are the top two or three things you plan to focus on during your term as an elected official?
- Affordable housing for Atlanta residents. The strategy for solving the issues related to affordable housing requires:
- The collaboration of all echelons of government to leverage resources and programs in a synergized fashion (i.e. federal, state and local) ,
- Partnering with community housing developers and private sector developers to identify and bring to fruition feasible projects that integrate affordable housing into their respective portfolios.
- The expansion of home buyer literacy programs to prepare home buyers for home ownership responsibilities…government has to incentivize the practice for developers to participate.
- Addressing the needs of the city’s homeless population. Through coordination and collaboration with non-profit, faith-based, and government entities the city must be the catalyst for the development of a sustainable/on-going initiative to establish accessible transient shelters, providing mental health/public health resources to the homeless community, and facilitating initiatives for self-empowerment to elevate homeless persons to being self –sufficient and no longer living on the streets.
7) What is your opinion of the Atlanta Beltline? Is there anything about the project that you think should be handled differently?
My opinion of the 22-mile Atlanta Beltline network of parks, trails, and transit is favorable. I think the strategy for funding the development of the Beltline should have been more comprehensive to ensure the completion of the entire project in a timely manner. I think marketing and community engagement could have been accomplished more effectively, especially in all 45 neighborhoods that will benefit from the Beltline.
8) What is your opinion of the Atlanta Streetcar? Is there anything about the project that you think should be handled differently?
I think the concept of a public transportation system that serves the immediate downtown area is good. However, I think the street car’s development, implementation, and management could have been done more effectively. The management of the street car has been challenging since its operation began, and ridership on the street car has not met projected goals. I think more consideration should have been given to a cable car system versus a street car transportation system; with a focus on providing very low/no-cost public transportation system for the Atlanta downtown area tourist triangle. My guess is the novelty of a cable car would be very appealing to tourists as well as residents. Also, more consideration should have been given to the route of the street car ensuring that it would be most appealing to the targeted population of riders and provide the greatest visibility/access to businesses and entertainment venues. MARTA, the city’s public transportation experts, should have been in charge of the operation and maintenance of the street car from the very beginning…not the city’s Public Works Department.
9) What should the city of Atlanta do to reduce traffic congestion in the city?
Traffic congestion mitigation must be at the forefront of the city’s planning processes. The city must have greater collaboration and coordination with the U.S. Department of Transportation, GDOT, GRETA, MARTA, and the private sector to achieve greater efficiency in addressing Atlanta’s traffic congestion challenges. A key element of reducing traffic congestion is obviously to have more residents off the roads, and taking advantage of ride sharing programs, bicycle programs, telecommuting, as well as, greater use of public transportation. The challenges surrounding Atlanta’s traffic congestion are not confined to Atlanta’s geographic boundary, and the solution will require a strategy that is implemented and supported by Atlanta regional stakeholders and developers. Also, Atlanta’s housing development strategy must include more transportation-oriented development.
10) What should the city do to increase affordable housing options for its residents?
The strategy to increase affordable housing options for Atlanta residents should include:
- The collaboration with all echelons of government to leverage resources and programs in a synergized manner (i.e. federal, state and local), to ensure feasible opportunities for affordable housing are available throughout the City of Atlanta.
- Partnering with community housing developers and private sector developers to identify and bring to fruition feasible projects that integrate affordable housing into their respective portfolios…government has to incentivize the practice for private developers to participate in affordable housing initiatives.
- Collaboration with financial institutions willing to work with developers interested in building multi-family units in transitioning communities, and home buyers who may financially-challenged. Additionally, the expansion of home ownership literacy programs and awareness to cultivate and prepare home buyers, coupled with the opportunities for homeownership will be part of the strategy.
11) If elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner?
Absolutely. If elected, I promise to conduct myself in an ethical and transparent manner.