11 Questions for Atlanta mayoral candidates Andre Dickens and Felicia Moore

Not sure who to vote for in the mayoral runoff? Dickens and Moore answered our questions about their plans regarding crime, affordability, gentrification, transit, the pandemic, and more.

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11 Questions for Atlanta mayoral candidates Andre Dickens and Felicia Moore
Andre Dickens and Felicia Moore

Dickens: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE; Moore: Courtesy of campaign

Back in October, Atlanta magazine emailed the same set of questions to each of the 14 Atlanta mayoral candidates to help voters understand where they stood on crime, affordability, the pandemic, and other pressing issues. Now, after the November 2 election, the top two candidates—Atlanta City Councilmember Andre Dickens and Council President Felicia Moore—will face off in the November 30 runoff election. To help voters who cast a ballot for one of the other 12 candidates or who need help deciding which runoff candidate to pick, here are both candidates’ answers to our October questionnaire. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Tap each candidate name to go directly to their responses


Andre Dickens

Atlanta mayoral candidate Andre Dickens
Andre Dickens

Photograph courtesy of campaign

Post 3 At-Large City Councilmember
Campaign website: andreforatlanta.com

1. At a time when police-citizen relations are especially strained, how would you fight crime in Atlanta while also combating police brutality and staying conscious of many marginalized people’s wariness of law enforcement?

My S.A.F.E. Streets Atlanta plan is a comprehensive and holistic approach that balances safety and justice. The plan will address our police shortage and training issues and focus our police officers on violent crime while addressing the root causes of crime. This plan prioritizes community-based policing and allocating specialists to address mental health, substance abuse, homelessness, and other non-violent issues. You can find out more at safestreetsatlanta.com.

2. Crime has become the hottest topic of the Atlanta mayor’s race. What policy issues do you think are being overshadowed that deserve more of the spotlight?

Income inequality is the largest issue that is not being discussed. An Atlantan born into poverty only has a 4 percent chance of reaching the middle class. All of our policies should be crafted through an equity lens. We have to address job growth/workforce development, affordable housing, and transit in order to start to address income inequality. Each of these issues is important and must be addressed in an interconnected manner. Public safety is incredibly important, but we have to be concerned about multigenerational poverty and the income inequality that plagues Atlanta.

3. Housing experts have said Atlanta is in dire need of residential units that are affordable for households earning 50 percent of the area median income or less. How would you advocate for boosting the city’s affordable housing stock?

We have to aggressively go after affordable housing by providing a diversity of housing options while also ensuring that we are developing without displacing our long-term residents. I am committed to building or retaining 20,000 affordable units in the next eight years. We have acres of underutilized city-owned land that we can develop through a yearly $20 million investment into affordable housing. In addition, to ensure we don’t displace our community, we must also implement measures like a senior property tax freeze and no-cost renovations to retain units and allow our seniors to age in place.

4. As the population grows, Atlanta is aching for a world-class mass transit system. How would you leverage the existing transit network, public money, and relationships with neighboring governments to create a web of bus lines, train tracks, and bike paths to accommodate the many Atlantans who can’t or would prefer not to rely on cars?

Much of the role of the mayor needs to be building relationships and coalitions to creatively solve these problems. We have to make future development transit-focused. Our road plans must shift to complete street plans favoring pedestrians and bicycles. In addition, we have to prioritize public transit over cars. This touches on housing policy by encouraging development that does not require automobiles. Lastly, we need to shift to a free public transit system by 2030. This shift will have a significant equity boost for our population and vastly decrease the need for automobiles.

5. Would you change the way the city provides public incentives to developers? How would you utilize the influence of the mayor’s office to advocate for reforms at Fulton County’s embattled development authority?

We need to reevaluate and look closely at our public incentives. There are times when incentives are given for projects that would not have needed an incentive to have been built. The intention is not for windfalls to developers but to encourage and incentivize development in areas which are underserved. In addition, while on the board of Invest Atlanta I ensured that all incentives required the addition of affordable housing. I hope to make changes in our laws to remove the ability for Fulton County Development Authority to develop in the city limits, as we already have our own development authority.

6. What can you tell voters to ensure them that your mayoral administration would prioritize government accountability and transparency? How would you prevent corruption on your watch?

I’ve been committed to ethical governance and believe that we must have a government as good as the people of Atlanta. While serving on the Atlanta City Council, I’ve led the charge for the most sweeping ethics, procurement, and transparency reforms in recent history. We’ve created government purchase card regulations, established the Independent Procurement Review Office, and we’ve worked closely with the City Ethics Office to create a set of policies to ensure that tax dollars are spent with integrity and oversight. I would like to build upon these efforts and resolve to remove the cloud of corruption from City Hall.

7. As Atlanta grows, many residents and leaders believe it’s imperative that we maintain our “city in the forest” nickname. What will you do to preserve the city’s green canopy, and how do concerns of clearcutting factor into city decisions about major developments, such as the so-called “Cop City,” which is slated for development where a premier green space was once promised?

As councilman, I supported Atlanta City Council’s introduction of a new Tree Protection Ordinance (TPO). The goal of the proposed Tree Protection Ordinance is first and foremost to prioritize protection of the City of Atlanta’s tree canopy and the draft resolution specifically calls out the City of Atlanta’s tree canopy as a well-recognized integral part of the City’s identity. In addition, the adopted proposal for the training facility requires 100 hardwoods planted for every hardwood cut down. We will effectively add to the tree canopy through this development.

8. What high-profile developments do you think will have the largest impact on the fabric of the city, and how will you monitor those projects to ensure they don’t become engines for rampant gentrification?

The two developments which come to mind are the Westside Park/Microsoft development and the South Loop of the BeltLine. In all our development, we must ensure that we are including the community in those conversations to ensure that we are developing without displacement and, ultimately, gentrification. I have proposed adding or retaining 20,000 affordable units in the next eight years. Ensuring we don’t displace is a significant part of that policy, and we can accomplish that through community benefit agreements, senior property tax freezes, and no cost renovations to allow those to stay in their homes.

9. Why should Buckhead residents want their community to remain part of the City of Atlanta? Or, if you think secession is a better move, why?

The residents and businesses of Buckhead have the same desire as anyone else in Atlanta. They want to feel safe, valued, and that their tax dollars are being put to good use. As mayor, I plan to bring back that mutual trust. Our community is better if we all stay together and move Atlanta forward together. What happens in Atlanta will impact Buckhead even if they leave, but if they leave then they no longer have a seat at the table. If we stay together and work together, then it will lead us to a better Atlanta.

10. How will you work to reduce the financial, cultural, and public health devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic? If the delta variant is still raging next year, would you consider shutdowns, curfews, and/or mask or vaccine mandates?

From a financial perspective, we need to allocate funds to directly help those who have been struggling. Many industries, and especially small businesses, will need assistance for an extended time, and we have to address those needs.

If the delta variant or other variants are still an issue next year, then I would consult with the CDC and health experts to determine the best course of action forward. We know the impact of vaccines, masks, and shutdowns, and I will implement the policies deemed best to keep our community safe and healthy.

11. Historically, officials at Atlanta City Hall have butted heads with those at the Gold Dome. How would you work together with the governor and the Republican-controlled statehouse to combat the coronavirus?

There will always be tension between the city and the state, but as Atlanta succeeds so does Georgia. We must find the areas in which we agree and aggressively work together to accomplish great things for the city and the state. Then we can at least keep a civil relationship and allow for the city’s perspective to be heard on other issues where we may not see eye to eye. Specifically on the coronavirus, I would encourage the state leadership to allow the city to take the steps we see fit to protect our citizens.

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Felicia Moore

Atlanta mayoral candidate Felicia Moore
Felicia Moore

Photograph courtesy of campaign

Atlanta City Council President
Campaign website: feliciamooreformayor.com

1. At a time when police-citizen relations are especially strained, how would you fight crime in Atlanta while also combating police brutality and staying conscious of many marginalized people’s wariness of law enforcement? 

For every resident, business, and visitor to Atlanta to feel safer, we not only need to put more patrols on our streets, but we need our people to feel safer in their interactions with the police. As the next mayor, I will have our current police force retrained on how to de-escalate situations and how not to escalate them in the first place. I will also help expand community engagement programs like Clippers and Cops, the Police Athletic League, and even the old “Officer Friendly,” which provide the chance for cops and community members to interact on human levels.

2. Crime has become the hottest topic of the Atlanta mayor’s race. What policy issues do you think are being overshadowed that deserve more of the spotlight? 

We need to break down the proverbial blue wall of silence. Law enforcement officers often tell us, “If you see something, say something.” As the next Mayor of Atlanta, I will establish an anonymous tip line, outside of the police department, that will allow officers to report incidents that bring shame on the badge.

3. Housing experts have said Atlanta is in dire need of residential units that are affordable for households earning 50 percent of the area median income or less. How would you advocate for boosting the city’s affordable housing stock? 

In my first 100 days as mayor, I will get the Atlanta Housing Authority back up to capacity to immediately house those living under the 50-percent area minimum income and to provide rapid rehousing for those recently evicted. In addition, my office will identify existing city-owned properties that can be renovated into no-questions-asked homeless shelters, so that those living unsheltered who cannot meet the barriers placed by other shelters have safe harbor. I will also reform how our city manages the HOPWA [Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS] program so that agencies providing housing for people living with AIDS receive their guaranteed funding.

4. As the population grows, Atlanta is aching for a world-class mass transit system. How would you leverage the existing transit network, public money, and relationships with neighboring governments to create a web of bus lines, train tracks, and bike paths to accommodate the many Atlantans who can’t or would prefer not to rely on cars? 

Atlanta is set to receive a substantial amount of federal infrastructure funding. As our next mayor, I will dedicate a portion of those funds to more rapidly realize the BeltLine rail project so that residents and visitors across all districts will have the transit connections they need to work and live. I will also use federal dollars to improve our sidewalks and add more bike paths so that people who live closer to our major transit corridors can more safely navigate our streets. Additionally, I will work with MARTA to develop shuttles that go deeper into neighborhoods for which alternative transit is their lifeline.

5. Would you change the way the city provides public incentives to developers? How would you utilize the influence of the mayor’s office to advocate for reforms at Fulton County’s embattled development authority?

The issue is not providing incentives to developers, but rather ensuring that the public-benefit parts of the incentives are implemented. As our next mayor, I will keep a close eye on all new developments to make sure they are accountable for the promises made to the community. I will also have past developments audited. Those who have not fulfilled their public-benefit requirements will be required to do so.

6. What can you tell voters to ensure them that your mayoral administration would prioritize government accountability and transparency? How would you prevent corruption on your watch? 

I am proud to have authored and passed legislation that established our city’s first Inspector General, chartered to hold elected and appointed public officials accountable and to prevent corruption. I also authored and passed the Independent Procurement Review Office, which reviews all city contracts before they are presented to the Atlanta City Council for approval. These two programs provide strong fiscal and ethical guardrails to prevent the types of corrupt practices of past administrations. As our next mayor, I look forward to expanding these programs.

7. As Atlanta grows, many residents and leaders believe it’s imperative that we maintain our “city in the forest” nickname. What will you do to preserve the city’s green canopy, and how do concerns of clearcutting factor into city decisions about major developments, such as the so-called “Cop City,” which is slated for development where a premier green space was once promised?

The entire process that led to this project did not meet my standards for transparency and public input. Rather than waiting until the current mayor gave the green light for this project, the developers should have proactively informed the community on the building specifications and time to provide feedback. Instead, developers had to be mandated by the city council to become community-informed. As our next mayor, I will make sure all prospective developments receive the benefit of advanced community input for the conservation of our tree canopy and the quality of life of our neighbors.

8. What high-profile developments do you think will have the largest impact on the fabric of the city, and how will you monitor those projects to ensure they don’t become engines for rampant gentrification? 

Aggressive real estate speculators pose the biggest gentrification threat to our neighborhoods, rather than any single development. As our next mayor, I will work with Fulton County and Atlanta Public Schools (which get 79 percent of our local property taxes), to provide caps and rollbacks to our legacy homeowners and seniors so they are not chased out of their homes. I will also empower our city workforce development agency to provide lower-cost services to fix homes in declining neighborhoods, so they are less likely to be preyed upon by speculators.

9. Why should Buckhead residents want their community to remain part of the City of Atlanta? Or, if you think secession is a better move, why? 

Buckhead will not be safer nor a more affordable place to live if it exists next to a declining major city. Additionally, the bondholders will raise significant legal objections and levy great liabilities on the prospective new city. Furthermore, if the residents of Buckhead think their water bills are too high now, imagine the pain of paying an additional 23 percent more when they have to pay a surcharge like the citizens of Sandy Springs. As a part of incorporated Atlanta, we are stronger as a unified community.

10.  How will you work to reduce the financial, cultural, and public health devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic? If the delta variant is still raging next year, would you consider shutdowns, curfews, and/or mask or vaccine mandates? 

While securing public health is a top priority for any mayor, I believe we have to give our residents and businesses a chance to pivot. As mayor, I will follow the best science and CDC guidelines when shaping emergency public health policies, but I will also engage in public dialogue so that everyone feels informed and everyone has adequate time to make adjustments to their home and work lives.

11. Historically, officials at Atlanta City Hall have butted heads with those at the Gold Dome. How would you work together with the governor and the Republican-controlled statehouse to combat the coronavirus? 

Fortunately, I have already developed respectful working relationships with the governor, lieutenant governor, and many state legislators. When the state attempted to take over Hartsfield-Jackson airport, I was the face of the city, attending every state legislative hearing and meeting in the offices and homes of Republicans leading that takeover effort. While we did not always agree, we fostered positive working relationships. I believe that leaders can respectfully disagree, and tough conversations can be had on serious public policies like the coronavirus without resorting to publicity stunts.

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