11 Questions for Atlanta’s 2021 mayoral candidates

Not sure who to vote for in the upcoming mayoral election? 13 candidates answered our questions about their plans regarding crime, affordability, gentrification, transit, the pandemic, and more.

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11 Questions for Atlanta’s 2021 mayoral candidates
Clockwise: Kasim Reed, Andre Dickens, Felicia Moore, Sharon Gay, Antonio Brown

Illustration by Matt Love

As Atlantans cast early ballots to pick the next wave of municipal leadership, mailboxes are sardine-stuffed with political flyers, cellphones are lighting up with 11th-hour appeals for campaign contributions, and the city’s policy wonks are abuzz over who will be elected in November (or, at least, who will make the runoff).

Fourteen candidates qualified for Atlanta’s mayoral race, so Atlanta magazine emailed the same set of questions to each candidate to help voters understand where they stand on crime, affordability, the pandemic, and other pressing issues. Thirteen candidates responded to our questions. (A few even abided by our request to keep responses under 100 words for each answer.)

Read below to learn about the folks who think they’ve got what it takes to navigate the ongoing pandemic, wrangle the forces of gentrification, and cut down on crime at a pivotal moment for the city. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.


Tap each candidate name to go directly to their responses


Antonio Brown

Atlanta mayoral candidate Antonio Brown
Antonio Brown

Photograph courtesy of campaign

District 3 City Councilmember
Campaign website:
reimaginingatlanta.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?

Officers must be held accountable, just as citizens are. We cannot arrest ourselves out of the current circumstance. As mayor, I will create the Department of Public Safety and Wellness to address quality-of-life issues and remove this unnecessary burden from officers untrained to deal with mental health and the unhoused. I will bring community policing back to our communities to form a relationship with residents. I will work to expand PAD [pre-arrest diversion] and create a community mitigation center to deal with disputes. Addressing generational poverty, I will create a $250 million Workforce Development Bond to put people back to work and move them into the middle class.

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? 

Addressing the root causes driving crime like generational poverty, a lack of funding in our school system, and the prevention of the problems most complex that we have been dealing with for decades reactively. How do we prevent homelessness proactively (by providing services to prevent eviction), how do we prevent repeat offenders from returning (by providing wraparound services for re-entry)? The City of Atlanta has been reactive for too long and it is time to be proactive.

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?

I would create a position for a Director of Housing and Community Development that would report to both the CEO of Invest Atlanta and the Chief Housing Officer of the City of Atlanta. I will identify and auction 750 acres of city-owned land to promote home ownership. I will work to require 30 percent of new developments be dedicated to affordable housing. I would shift Invest Atlanta and its priorities to create a socioeconomic shift in the economic class system of Atlanta. I will increase the Housing Opportunity Bond by up to $150 million to produce thousands of more units of affordable housing within four years.

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?

I have advocated for BeltLine light rail with the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) for two years to make sure we have funding in place. As mayor, I will be leveraging funds from the federal infrastructure bill to fund the development of light rail on the BeltLine. But we also need bus rapid transit in the City of Atlanta. We need bus rapid transit to connect to communities that need access so that they can get to and from work. We also need walkability. There is not a one-solution-fits-all in this city, and we need to make sure we are creating and funding projects that fit the diverse community of Atlanta.

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 would put forth criteria that require that for every X number of incentives given, would provide X number of jobs being created for working class people in Atlanta and provide reinvestment back into the city’s communities. I would work with county commissioners to make sure there is a fair and equitable practice taking place at Fulton County’s development authority to provide economic mobility to underserved communities and businesses in the City of Atlanta.

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?

We would not have to worry about corruption in City Hall if we are making sure that our employees are being taken care of. People resort to doing unethical things because a lot of times they are presented with an opportunity, they are in a particular financial bind, and that opportunity becomes viable because they have no other choice in the specific position that they are in. If we focus on taking care of our employees, making sure they have the resources and opportunities they need, we can start putting other controls and measures in place to make sure folks are held accountable.

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?

One of the main reasons I voted against the police training facility on the Old Atlanta Prison Farm was due to the lack of EPA and EDA studies and the possibility of the disruption of the largest greenspace remaining in the City of Atlanta. As mayor, I will collaborate closely with stakeholders, the Office of Resilience and the Clean Energy Advisory Board to make sure there is a balanced approach between development and environmental impact.

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 Gulch deal. We will ensure that all that was required and promised will be upheld, as well as with any deal in the City of Atlanta. I will also introduce legislation that will require new large-scale housing developments to be required to dedicate 30 percent of units to affordable housing while working with NPUs and communities to create [community benefits agreements] to make sure all stakeholders have a say in the process and legacy homeowners are not driven out of their home by rising property taxes.

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?

I believe that Buckhead, like many other communities, deserves to be heard. I believe what Buckhead wants is no different than any other communities’ wants or needs. This is not the time to further divide within our city. The rate of crime may be new in Buckhead, but this has been happening in some of our most underserved communities because we failed to address the root cause of crime.

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?

We will continue to follow CDC guidelines while maintaining an open line of communication with experts and require masks and social distancing in city-owned buildings and facilities promoting testing and vaccinations. Depending on the development of the delta variant, my administration will sit down with county and state partners to discuss further actions for businesses, organizations, and communities disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and utilize Care Act funds to alleviate the impact.

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? 

I have a great relationship with the governor’s office and many state legislators currently. I will further work to bridge the divide between the City of Atlanta and the capitol. If we are ever going to be the internationally successful city that we claim to be, we have to all do a better job at communicating and working with our regional partners, building advisory boards and collectively bring folks together so that we can start solving some of these problems happening across the state together.

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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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Sharon Gay

Atlanta mayoral candidate Sharon Gay
Sharon Gay

Photograph courtesy of campaign

Attorney
Campaign website: sharongayformayor.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?

All Atlantans should feel safe in their homes, at work, and in their neighborhoods. The rise in violence we have experienced in the past year is unacceptable, and reducing crime will be my highest priority as mayor. We need to rebuild trust between the community and law enforcement and make sure that those who commit crimes no longer pose a threat to our citizens. By working together, we can ensure that Atlanta is a safe and welcoming city for all.

I have a four-point plan for improving public safety conditions in the city. Despite the spike in crime we are currently seeing, the city has experienced a significant reduction in crime overall over the last thirty years. Our goal should be to address the current spike in crime while at the same time implementing policies that will return us to the path of long-term crime reduction.

    1. Ensure that public safety resources are prepared and deployed in a way that addresses the immediate drivers of crime:
    • Strengthen our police recruitment strategies to ensure that we are hiring qualified, diverse, and committed officers.
    • Improve our retention efforts by demonstrating to our officers that they are supported and can thrive as City of Atlanta police officers.
    • Ensure that the police department is fully supported, properly staffed, and highly trained.
    • Focus our policing resources on crime and not on issues for which health and social work professionals are better equipped to deal.
    1. Work with our neighborhoods to identify specific public safety issues and address them with interventions specifically tailored to their needs:
    • Expand community policing efforts to build trust between the police and our neighborhoods.
    • Develop neighborhood-specific public safety improvement plans with tailored interventions and metrics for success.
    • Make better use of “smarter policing” techniques where we go after the specific causes of specific types of incidents.
    • Make better use of technology to monitor crime “hot spots”.
    • We know that we have clubs and restaurants that are either unlicensed or disobeying the terms of their licenses. These establishments are magnets for crime and violence, much of which is committed by non-Atlantans. If they cannot eliminate the threat to public safety they pose, they need to be shut down.
    1. Ensure that, when we arrest people for serious crimes, they stay off the streets:
    • Work with the county to ensure that their courts and detention operations are aligned with the needs of the city.
    • Reduce recidivism by working with our partners on diversionary and reintegration programs that permanently shift offenders from the criminal justice system.
    1. Address the fundamental conditions in our most-distressed neighborhoods to develop specific anti-crime strategies that both address the immediate causes of crime in their neighborhoods but also ensure that the children growing up in these neighborhoods are on a path to happy, healthy and prosperous lives.
    • Criminals are not born; they are created as a consequence of distressed conditions we find in too many of our neighborhoods. We need to transform those conditions so that every child in our city grows up in a healthy, thriving place.

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? 

I believe that the central strategic question facing the city moving forward is: How does the city successfully catalyze and accommodate future growth in a sustainable and equitable fashion?

The answer to me lies in making sure that each of our neighborhoods are positioned to grow and develop in a way that protects the quality of life of their residents while at the same time achieving their long-term vision for themselves. That will require the development of specific strategic plans for each neighborhood that expresses the will of the residents, leverages their assets, and addresses whatever deficits they might have. City government’s job is to help execute those plans by braiding together the public, private, and philanthropic resources need to deliver those visions.

I have a specific plan for how we will organize city government and its public and nonprofit partners to advance this strategy. It involves building and leveraging the civic leadership of our city and focusing intensively on the needs and visions of our neighborhoods. We even have local models (East Lake, Westside Future Fund, Centennial Place, the CIDs) that we can look to for guidance.

All the other issues that concern us—crime, failing schools, health disparities, and economic vitality—are all a product of the conditions we find in our neighborhoods. If we have 100 percent healthy neighborhoods in our city, then we will have a 100 percent healthy city. My goal as mayor will be to make improving the health of all of our neighborhoods a central goal of city government.

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? 

Affordable housing has been a priority of mine for over 15 years. I have served in advocacy roles—e.g., Board Chair of Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership and co-chair of the ULI Affordable Housing Task Force, which produced a comprehensive report that provided the framework for HouseATL. I have worked with governments, for-profit and nonprofit developers, and housing authorities to use zoning changes and economic incentives to develop thousands of units of affordable housing. While funding is important, money is a tool, not a strategy. The mayor’s office must play an active role in coordinating with our affordable housing partners to identify needs and goals, maximize targeted use of economic incentives, preserve existing affordable units wherever possible, activate vacant land on corridors, and remove roadblocks to affordable housing development such as poor management of grants and permitting. The 400 acres controlled by Atlanta Housing must be used to produce deeply affordable housing. We also need an economic development plan to help increase incomes and thoughtful, place-based public infrastructure investments in our neighborhoods.

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?

I support mobility. We need a transportation system that employs multiple modes, including transit, bike lanes, and sidewalks, to reduce vehicle dependency and give our residents better access to jobs, housing, and services. I spent a decade advocating for passenger and commuter rail and chaired an interagency task force intended to speed up the process. We were not successful—partly because the political winds shifted—but I learned from that experience the importance of building a successful business case to demonstrate how construction and operating costs would be funded and how the proposed improvements enhance the entire transportation system. That is what I would work with MARTA to figure out. With passage of new sales taxes for transit and the prospect of additional federal funds, now is the time to move deliberately and swiftly to maximize the benefit to our transportation network. The More MARTA program includes various segments of BeltLine transit. My administration would be an active, engaged partner with MARTA and seek to improve coordination and project delivery so that we can implement change more quickly.

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 a city economic development plan that is focused on improving the health of our neighborhoods. It should be a plan that is delivered in collaboration with all of the public agencies involved in improving the quality of lives of our citizens, including the county’s development authority. It makes no sense to me that our public agencies are making decisions about housing, transportation, education, and economic development in silos with little, if any, coordination. They need to be tightly integrated if we are to receive the full benefit of our public investments. I will work to achieve that.

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? 

Ethics start at the top. My administration will be committed to operating in a transparent and ethical fashion because that is the only way I know how to operate. I will commission a review of the city’s ethics code and practices, make improvements where necessary, and adopt a zero-tolerance policy for all employees. The rules will be clear and consistently communicated. My plan is to review and redesign the entire procurement process. We need an 21st century procurement process that is open, honest and simple to follow.

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?

There really should be no contradiction between protecting our natural resources and promoting growth. Our natural resources play an instrumental role in attracting the investments we need to grow, so we shouldn’t act as if they are in competition with each other. Having said that, I realize that operationalizing the protection of those resources in the face of development pressures is challenging. Given my own experience in working with developers, I know we can do a better job of ensuring that new construction is designed and delivered in a way that protects high-priority trees. Key to that is getting involved earlier in the design process and allowing flexibility to achieve the desired goals. That will take closer collaboration between developers and the city, and both parties need to be willing to do so. I am convinced that this is a “win-win” situation if we just approach it with good faith and a willingness to work together.

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? 

There are many potentially impactful projects that are either underway or being planned that the City must be closely engaged with to ensure that the benefits of these investments accrue to all Atlantans. Our major public infrastructure investments—the Beltline, Westside Park, the MARTA/TSPLOST projects, and the redevelopment of our public housing properties specifically—have an intended set of benefits that they are designed to deliver, including job creation, economic development, and affordable housing. Those benefits will not be realized without careful attention to the details of how they are planned and executed.

The private investments either underway or being contemplated—the Gulch and the Microsoft campus in Grove Park, for example—should also deliver a set of public benefits that advance the interests of both the neighborhoods where they are located and to Atlantans in general. Too often we have failed to spell out in sufficient detail what those benefits are and how they will be secured.

City government should be engaged in these efforts from day one with a set of specific strategic objectives in mind, and then partner with all of the key stakeholders—investors, developers, nonprofits, and community leaders—to ensure that there is a clear understanding of what the benefits are and how they will be realized. We then need to closely monitor implementation to correct and adjust as conditions on the ground warrant.

We are on the cusp of a major Federal investment in public infrastructure that will only heighten the importance of the city’s ability to partner effectively in implementing big projects in a way that improves the quality of life of our residents while ensuring that the city remains accessible to people of all incomes. We need to be ready.

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? 

I think it’s a bad idea for a lot of reasons, most obviously being that we need to solve our problems in this country together, not apart. That’s a lesson for the city, the state and the country. I will do everything to resist this effort.

However, I do believe that the secessionist movement in Buckhead and the unrest we experienced last year stem from similar impulses, which is a frustration to address the underlying causes of the failures we see, whether it be crime, failing schools, health disparities or wealth inequality. The answer is not to split apart, it’s to come together to understand how we got here and what we need to do to move forward together.

As I meet with Atlantans all over the city, I hear the same concern: City Hall doesn’t listen to the neighborhoods. The reason I want to be “the Neighborhood Mayor” is to fix this. If our city government understood that its primary role is to advance the interests of its neighborhoods, then we wouldn’t have a secessionist movement in Buckhead. It’s as simple as that.

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?

We need to be prepared for the fact that this pandemic is not going away anytime soon. I will follow the guidance of our public health professionals regarding appropriate health and safety measures and actively use the platform of the mayor to model and encourage recommended precautions. I will support efforts to seek continued federal and state [resources] to address on-going Covid-related impacts on education, housing, and food access. I will re-open City Hall in a safe but accessible way. Our citizens have been closed off from their government for too long. I will also be focused on improving the resiliency of our most vulnerable neighborhoods, which this pandemic has once again illustrated are uniquely vulnerable to these types of disruptions.

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? 

The city needs to improve its working relationship with the state government across a variety of issues. We are one of the few cities in the country that is both the state capitol and its commercial center, which means it is essential that we work together on economic development, transportation, education, public health, and other shared concerns. I will seek to rebuild the now-frayed relationship between the city and the state by collaborating on those issues and seek common ground where it is possible. In the short term, ensuring that the city and the state respond effectively to the Covid pandemic will be a high priority, both in terms of fighting the virus and ensuring that its impact is minimized. This means ensuring that federal and state resources dedicated to fighting the pandemic are fully deployed and that we coordinate on key policies.

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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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Kasim Reed

Atlanta mayoral candidate Kasim Reed
Kasim Reed

Photograph courtesy of campaign

Former Mayor of Atlanta
Campaign website: kasimreed.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?

Public safety reform starts at the top. During my eight years as Mayor, the city’s crime rate was at 40-year lows, and the city employed 2,000 sworn police officers, the largest force in the city’s history. Here are the core elements of my plan to get our city back on track:

    • Hire and properly train 750 new Atlanta Police Department officers so that we have a fully functional force and coverage throughout the city.
    • Provide all—new and existing—officers with implicit bias and de-escalation training.
    • Keep Atlanta’s city jail open, to eliminate the overcrowding in the Fulton County jail, and shut down the revolving door for criminals.
    • Work with state and county leaders to hire new judges to eliminate the huge prosecution backlog caused by Covid-shutdowns.
    • Hold weekly cabinet meetings to review crime data and implement solutions across departments.
    • Upgrade precinct locations and facilities and replace outdated equipment.
    • Expand Atlanta’s Policing Alternatives and Diversion Initiative (PAD), a program created during my first term, and reopen the Centers of Hope to get kids off the streets safely.
    • Triple the city’s network of traffic cameras and license plate readers, including adding safety surveillance to public parks.
    • Revamp APD code enforcement processes to target the city’s most egregious offenders and aggressively prosecute nuisance establishments.
    • Establish LGBTQ+ hate crime protections in APD’s Special Victims Unit.

As mayor, I will bring a clarity of purpose and zero tolerance for crime that will be communicated every day, across City Hall. Until our city feels safe again, we will conduct weekly cabinet meetings organized around detailed reports on crime data and the measures each department will take to positively impact public safety. While APD certainly will be at the forefront of those efforts, they will not be alone—departments throughout City Hall will understand and demonstrate urgency and focus on restoring our city’s safety.

I will prosecute and close the restaurants, bars, and clubs that continually violate city safety and operational codes and act as magnets for criminal activity and nuisance behavior. Blighted, abandoned properties will be cleaned, closed, and ultimately demolished, to be turned into affordable housing or greenspace as appropriate. We will keep our children safe at the same time we keep our drivers safe, getting “water boys” off the streets and into job programs so that they are getting training and tutoring, working 9-to-5 during the day instead of working 9-to-5 at night in the streets and traffic. We also have to take measures to disrupt the ready availability of guns on the street. In short, we will communicate in a myriad of ways that Atlanta will not be a safe space for dangerous and criminal activity.

I will keep the Atlanta City Detention Center open and collaborate with the Fulton County Sheriff and Fulton County judges to alleviate overcrowding at the Fulton County jail to stop the revolving door for repeat offender criminals. I will work with the state and Fulton County to increase the number of judges available to process the immense backlog in prosecutions caused by the pandemic shutdown, so that criminal justice isn’t delayed any further and offenders aren’t being released prematurely.

For the police force itself, my commitment is to take every measure necessary to fully staff and better train our officers. Atlanta will rethink policing and safety to ensure we have the best-trained, best-equipped, and best-deployed force in the country. Community-based policing and up-to-date training in de-escalation techniques will mean police are neighbors, not adversaries. More police working with communities will make our neighborhoods safer; more training on non-violent, community-based policing will ensure fair and impartial interactions; more cameras and other crime-reduction technologies will act as a force multiplier; and more transparency in officers’ interactions with the community will protect our officers and the people with whom they interact.

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? 

Crime is the number one crisis facing our city. Right now, in every neighborhood across our city, Atlantans feel less safe. Crime impacts our personal and collective quality of life and the city’s reputation, creating a vicious cycle that undermines everything that makes our city vibrant. The fundamental truth is that until Atlanta feels safe again, nothing else will feel right.

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? 

There are many reasons we love to call Atlanta home, as do the thousands of people moving here every year. As that growth and development occurs, we need to fight to ensure that Atlanta remains affordable for the people who have long called it home, as well as the people who work hard every day to keep our doors open.

We need to better leverage current public real estate assets, particularly the properties owned by the Atlanta Housing Authority and MARTA, and leverage the federal dollars available to expand affordable, transit-oriented housing options. Density near MARTA stations is a key component. We need to layer the affordable units so that we have options to serve low-income households earning up to 60 percent of area median income, while also supporting middle-income households that earn up to 100 percent of median income.

We have to create more workforce housing that serves this middle-income market, allowing teachers, police, firefighters, and other city employees to live where they work. With a focus on public-private partnerships, we can help double the number of affordable units at or near MARTA stations from 1,500 completed, under construction, or in planning to over 3,000.

At the same time, we do not need to sacrifice what makes Atlanta special—like our historic in-town neighborhoods—if we take intentional steps to create affordability and density in areas that can support and welcome it. We have been told we either need to choose affordability or historic and community preservation, but that’s a false choice that I reject.

Atlanta has taken solid steps to create and preserve long-term affordability, but we know we must do more. Displacement does not have to be the inevitable result of economic growth and neighborhood change. With intentional policies to protect lower income residents, they can stay and access the benefits of improved housing, job opportunities, and access to transit.

Here are the core elements of my plan to ensure affordability and workforce housing throughout the City:

    • Conduct a city-wide audit of the area’s current affordable housing digest, ensuring that current affordability commitments are being met.
    • Create Atlanta’s first-ever Office of Anti-Displacement.
    • Make better use of currently owned public land, and make this land available to private and non-profit developers for affordable housing.
    • Layer units to help both low and middle-income households.
    • Build housing for middle income city employees, including public safety officers and teachers, so they can live in the town they serve.
    • Double the number of affordable units near MARTA stations without jeopardizing or destabilizing historic single-family neighborhoods.

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?

We can improve the transportation two primary ways, and my prior term as mayor shows how. First, we increase the reach and reliability of Atlanta’s transit system, MARTA. One of my proudest legacies from my term was More MARTA—the largest investment in MARTA expansion in the system’s history, raising billions of dollars to expand and enhance MARTA’s coverage and service inside the City of Atlanta over the coming decades. Negotiating that deal took my direct involvement and advocacy with the State and other stakeholders, and I am proud of what we were able to accomplish in partnership with MARTA for all Atlantans.

The second piece of the puzzle is to facilitate and enhance housing and employment opportunities in proximity to MARTA’s bus and rail lines, so that people can live and work—and play—in the city without having to either own a car or use someone else’s. This also includes improving the pedestrian infrastructure so that people, including those with disabilities, can safely and reliably access the transit system.

Development in Atlanta is obviously a sensitive topic for a variety of reasons, but if we are intentional and collaborative, we can channel that development into places where it makes sense, where we have or readily can build the infrastructure to accommodate it, and where we want it to be, rather than having it occur haphazardly, or at the expense of historic preservation or greenspace. During my prior term, a years-long process led to Atlanta City Design, which recognized the need for more development, as well as the importance of making sure we targeted it appropriately, and ensured that goals like affordability and historic preservation were served in the process.

Working with MARTA, and utilizing other publicly owned land near transit, we have already facilitated significant Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) including at the King Memorial station, Inman Park, and others, putting these goals into action. We can and will do more, including by incentivizing TODs on the south and west sides of the City, and along the new lines to be built by the More MARTA investment.

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?

Under my administration, Invest Atlanta has a strong record of recruiting companies and providing incentives that give the city a strong return on investment from multi-million dollar deals to facade improvement grants for small businesses. Each deal requires its own analysis and will happen within a framework of my commitment to equitable workforce development and more affordable housing. The space between Fulton Development Authority and Invest Atlanta has been leveraged by some developers over the years to the detriment of both Fulton County and Atlanta residents and businesses. I look forward to working with the Fulton County Commission to ensure a development process that serves both Fulton and Atlanta.

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? 

If I have the privilege of serving as mayor again, I will implement additional measures to ensure that ethics remain at the center of my administration.

Those measures include:

    • No member of my administration will have a personal or business bankruptcy in their lifetime
    • Myself, along with all of my direct reports, will file and make public our income tax returns on April 15 of every year
    • My cabinet and senior team will have quarterly ethics training
    • An ethics council will be in the office of the mayor
    • The city will require individuals lobbying the executive and/or legislative branch of government to register as lobbyists

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 city must be intentional as Atlanta continues to grow with development, economic opportunities, and people choosing Atlanta as their home. I understood this when my administration led these neighborhood conversations through the Atlanta City Studio and created the framework laid out in the Atlanta City Design that prioritized protecting existing trees and preserving nature while growing and building our city. My administration also prioritized these efforts through the engagement and publication of the Resilient Atlanta strategy which balances that growth with multiple priorities.

As mayor, I will re-energize a well-coordinated and intentional effort and get back on track in implementing the strategies laid out in these frameworks to protect existing trees and preserve nature while growing and building our city.

Atlanta’s trees serve as our riverfront. During my two terms as mayor, I authorized legislation to leverage tree impact fees for the specific goal and responsibility to protect our natural preserves, vast lands with old growth forests, and beautiful tree canopy.

My administration will enforce our existing tree ordinance to avoid unnecessary elimination of trees and at the same time, ensure developers do not cut corners on development projects without consequences. Any changes to the city’s tree ordinance should make the rules clear for developers so that they are enforceable and continue to prioritize our tree canopy. I will continue to listen to the community feedback as discussions continue regarding the tree ordinance to ensure Atlanta’s growth is balanced and we safeguard our tree canopy.

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? 

There are a number of transformational developments that were funded and completed under my administration, but a few notable projects include:

    • The relocation of NCR’s global headquarters to Midtown. This move brought more than 5,000 jobs into the City of Atlanta and NCR was one of 17 companies to relocate their headquarters to the City of Atlanta while I was in office.
    • The new Mercedes-Benz Stadium was also a transformative development. The stadium has allowed our city [the opportunity] to host the College Football Championships, Super Bowl LIII, and the NCAA Final Four. These events had a regional economic impact and supported the region’s hospitality and tourism industry—an industry that employs more than 200,000 people in the metro region. Additionally, the stadium deal terms included more than $30 million in direct investment for the English Avenue, Vine City and Castleberry Hill neighborhoods, and a $50 million investment in infrastructure improvements in adjacent areas.
    • Ponce City Market, the largest adaptive reuse project in Atlanta history, is yet another example. The project was made possible through a $2 million BeltLine Affordable Housing Trust Fund grant. The redevelopment of 259 rental unties within this iconic structure anchors continued commercial and residential development along the Eastside Trail of the BeltLine and represents a $250 million investment.

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? 

Atlanta’s strength is that it’s a tapestry. All of the different neighborhoods and communities and individuals that comprise our city make their own unique and dynamic contributions to what is, at the end of the day, one of the most beautiful tapestries in America and the world. Today, the community of Buckhead—if an election were held today—would vote to leave and de-annex from the city. It’s never happened in the history of our city, and if it were to happen, the city would lose 25 to 30 percent of its revenue, as would Atlanta Public Schools.

We have to restore this fractured relationship because the Buckhead community is an integral part of the fabric of our city. If Atlanta breaks apart, our reputation as a city that is too busy to hate falls apart with it.

Sadly, the reason we are experiencing these challenges is because we are experiencing a level of violent crime that we have not seen in our lifetime, certainly in our recent memory.

When I was elected Mayor in 2010, we faced a surge in crime, the government was facing a $50 million deficit and we were in the midst of the worst economy in 80 years. At that time, I pledged that I would hire 750 police officers, that I would reduce crime, and that I would keep our city safe.

I didn’t hire 750 police officers—I hired 900. I reduced crime and we had unmatched economic prosperity. I left $200 million in cash reserves, never raised your property taxes, never raised your water rates, we had a record-high number of visitors to the City of Atlanta, and our economy boomed.

When I walked into the office, we had $380 million in construction, and in my last year in office, we had $5 billion.

Atlanta is at a critical juncture and I am the only candidate who can navigate us through this very difficult time and keep the community of Buckhead and the people of Atlanta safe.

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?

The federal government has made billions of dollars available to support Americans during the pandemic and aid in post-pandemic recovery through the various CARES Acts, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, and the American Rescue Plan Act. Too much of the money that has been made available has not been put into action. I will ensure that all currently available funds are deployed within six months, including funds available for renters, job training, and vaccination support. And I will work closely with the Biden Administration on the Build Back Better Plan to ensure that Atlanta receives as much funding as possible. Recovery will require intention and focus to address the massive job losses in the service, arts, and entertainment industries that drive Atlanta’s economy. Atlanta is a resilient city; we will recover from this pandemic and thrive again. Regarding the delta variant, I will follow the CDC guidelines for best practices and work closely with the Biden Administration to increase the number of vaccinated Atlantans.

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? 

When I served as mayor, I enjoyed a productive relationship with Governor Nathan Deal. Through this relationship, we were able to leverage some of the largest investments to our city and state. Our partnership was essential for more than a dozen regional economic development wins. Notably, we worked together to secure federal support for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, which will deepen the port to accept Panamax ships. This project required more than 100 administrative approvals from the Obama Administration. We also worked together to recruit Mercedes-Benz and State Farm to the metro area, and Porsche Cars North America to their new headquarters near the airport.

My track record and experience in the Georgia General Assembly and the relationships I built while a state rep and then state senator will allow me to work with a Republican-controlled statehouse to combat the Coronavirus.

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Nolan English

Atlanta mayoral candidate Nolan English
Nolan English

Photograph courtesy of campaign

Campaign website: nolanenglish.org

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?

I plan to fight crime while also combating police brutality by simply having the right type of officer in place. I am choosing to enlist retired military police officers and military intelligence officers from nearby posts to fill 85 percent of the slots available for the Atlanta Police Department. Military police officers retire around the age of 37 to 38 years old. If I put them in comparison to a 37 or 38-year-old civilian that simply “needs a job,” then you will see a major difference. A former military police officer is probably in the best shape of his life, understands hand-to-hand combat (which prevents many uses of lethal force), understands rules of engagement, is immersed in different cultures, and indoctrinated in cultural sensitivity. Putting the right people in place will lead to more pleasant exchanges between the citizens and the city, and this will help many marginalized people who are very nervous and weary of law-enforcement.

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? 

While crime has become the hottest topic and target for candidates, I think the main policy issues that’s missing the same focus are schools and affordable Housing. The promise of better schools must be a priority not just a promise. Better schools equal better neighborhoods. Better neighborhoods equal better taxes. Better taxes equal better tax incentives for businesses. Better businesses equal better employment opportunities, and the cycle continues.

Once we get a handle on affordable housing, you will see a noticeable drop in crime. Many people do not understand the correlation of the two. Housing plays into everything we do and experience in 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 will revamp structurally sound blighted homes, demolish condemned homes and re-purposed the land with new homes, change the legislation regarding tiny houses, and add micro units.

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?

I would use the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) model surrounding the Lindbergh MARTA station as my proof-of-concept and set up applicable neighborhoods regarding housing and transportation. I would make informed and strategic changes to encourage the transformation of each applicable area of the city into a transit-oriented neighborhood. The first step is to determine a land-use pattern for the neighborhood that will support an urban, mixed-use, resident-oriented community, centered on transit access while preserving the existing features of the area. Upon the establishment of the land pattern, the next step is to establish a diverse mix of residential, retail, office, and entertainment options.

The overall objective is to encourage ridership while cultivating a sense of community. Focusing on the use of light and heavy rail is done to alleviate rush hour traffic volumes daily throughout the city and congestion caused by activities (e.g., games, concerts, etc.). This scenario has an additional benefit—safety. The presence of residents tends to increase safety after business hours. All of this is done with the focus on protecting single-family neighborhoods that currently exist nearby. The establishment of TOD throughout the city will enable every neighborhood to be a destination, therefore reducing vehicle traffic throughout the city and providing the transportation and opportunities needed for every neighborhood in the city.

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?

I will change the way that the city provides public incentives to developers to make sure it is fair and equitable to everyone that has a desire to come to the table. We will push the development in certain areas of the city with incentives for affordable housing. We will be intentional about creating additional partnerships and initiatives for affordable housing. We will have protections in place to keep people in their neighborhoods. Tiny houses and micro units will provide affordable housing for baristas, artists, singles, and empty-nesters. We will drive gentrification in the way we want to drive it— for the benefit of citizens. We will use tools like Invest Atlanta to incentivize stores and amenities to communities that have been missing for a long time. Every neighborhood will become a destination.

The aforementioned will be under the purview of the inspector general’s office that I will create on Day One to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse within city government.

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? 

First and foremost, we would have processes in place because people are fallible. I will advise our citizens to trust the process. This would still be in conjunction with hiring the right people. It is foolish to enlist the unrighteous and demand righteous from them.

I would get out in front of corruption by keeping my finger on the pulse of my administration. It begins and ends with me. I prefer to be a thermostat rather than a thermometer. A thermostat sets the temperature while a thermometer only reacts to the temperature.

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?

Zoning other existing areas will be key to maintaining and protecting our green canopy. We no longer need to reduce greenspace to develop anything. We need to be proactive in seeking out areas to be utilized prior to anyone’s ideal of development so we can redirect them to an area with a similar footprint and remove the consideration of eliminating more greenspace. Our arborists will receive a major change to their job description. They have been operating as code enforcers to homeowners. They will serve as educators to the homeowner and a director to the developer.

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 first high-profile development (as well as the most prominent) is the BeltLine. We must stop the displacement that is taking place around its development. We must get it ahead of this fast-moving engine of rampant gentrification. We would place our anti-displacement team over the project and each development project in the city.

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? 

As we implement the city’s new crime plan to secure the City of Atlanta, Buckhead will want to be a part of this security to protect their best interests. As criminals will find it hard to justify the cost of doing crime in Atlanta, they will move to areas that are much more susceptible . . .  the first being Buckhead. It would behoove them to remain as a part of the union. No criminal is going to turn around when they see a “City of Buckhead” sign. That will only motivate them to explore the vulnerable new city adjacent to Atlanta even more.

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?

As the leader of a major city, I would align myself with the leaders of other major cities to push for a federally-funded shutdown with a definite begin and end date of 45 days nationally. This is the only way we will be able to bring Covid under control. With an indefinite start and end date, we will run into the same problems we have before, and that’s why we have been unsuccessful in containing the virus. We all must be on one page and one accord nationally—not just state-wide or locally.

I will push for all of the above with regard to shutdowns, curfews, and mask mandates. For clarity: I would mandate masks and not vaccines.

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 statehood? 

My way of working with the state is to sit down and reason with them to understand what’s good for the city is good for the state. I would rather not leverage a Democratic-controlled federal government to get from the Republican-controlled state the things that are needed for the city. Plus, I am nonpartisan. I’m about what’s right for the people in Atlanta, therefore, dialogue and understanding is key. I would help them to understand the need and why. That will help them make informed decisions. When we misunderstand a problem, we misdiagnose the solutions. This is our city, and we know what solutions we need. It’s all about helping others to understand the what and why.

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Mark Hammad

Atlanta mayoral candidate Mark Hammad
Mark Hammad

Photograph courtesy of campaign

Consultant
Campaign website: hammad4atl.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 solutions to crime are focused on accountability for the violent, repeat felons that are driving the spike in violent crime. The majority of this work is with the courts, not the Atlanta Police Department.

Regarding the APD, the officers have been doing a great job in the face of very tough and exhausting conditions in the last two years.

I do believe that we have an opportunity to elevate the APD going forward. I will focus on positive police interactions and outcomes. To accomplish this, we will focus on training and giving our officers better tools to achieve those positive outcomes.

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? 

Homelessness deserves more attention. Homelessness is growing, and the city is doing nothing to address the actual homelessness or the pipelines to homelessness. Right now, the city is shirking their responsibility and instead relies on the goodwill and charity of dozens of organizations to feed, clothe, and assist the homeless.

I will make homelessness a priority and will focus on housing-first solutions, combined with resources and assistance to help transition individuals. Longer term, I want to attack and cut off the pipelines that feed people into homelessness.

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? 

Right now, the supply of housing is well below the demand for housing. This raises home and rent prices. Previous and current administrations have failed to build the number of affordable housing units needed. As a result, we face a significant shortfall. The magnitude is beyond what the city can accomplish on its own. We are in a position where we need to partner with developers.

We need to make it easier and more attractive for developers to build in Atlanta. Further, we need to put vacant and underutilized land to better use.

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? 

We need to think big with transit. MARTA has not done a major expansion in more than 20 years. Atlanta lacks real transportation options and alternatives for commuters, and we all suffer as a result.

As mayor, I will advance an expansion of MARTA up to the northern suburbs. We need a leader who will bring together all the stakeholders to get a real regional expansion completed for MARTA—this includes dozens of local municipalities, the state of Georgia, and our federal partners. This will allow both the city and the region to be more sustainable as we grow.

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 make sure that incentives are being used efficiently and that there is transparency and ethical decision-making in the process. We need to set benchmarks for any incentives that the city provides, and we need to be consistent in following up on how we evaluate the performance. Over time, we can see the strengths and weaknesses and refine the program.

Regarding Fulton County’s development authority, the recent controversies, press coverage, and changes at the organization will hopefully foster some modifications in how they approach their work. Hopefully this can also help foster a more cooperative environment with the City.

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? 

Ethics, transparency, and accountability are core personal beliefs of mine, and this would be at the core of everything in my administration. We have to restore trust with the citizens of Atlanta, and it starts with being personally accountable.

I plan on setting up an independent commission with unwavering access to investigate any claims of waste, fraud, or abuse at City Hall. In addition, I will implement greater internal controls. My goal is that any employee, office, or contract should be able to fully pass a rigorous audit without any blemishes or question marks.

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?

Growth and development are going to happen, and we have to make sure that it is done sustainably.

My emphasis for greenspace in Atlanta is focused on more neighborhood parks. Not only does this preserve greenspace, but this will improve the quality of life in many neighborhoods. My goal is to increase the percentage of residents who live within walking distance of a park.

Regarding growth, my plan is to concentrate development in existing developed and high-density corridors and near MARTA stations.

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 projects that fit this criteria are the Quarry Yards and the Gulch project. The Quarry Yards is next to the Bankhead MARTA station, and the area does have some blight that needs to be addressed. The Gulch is a mega project that may have spillover effects into Vine City.

For both of these areas, we need to ensure that the development occurs with the existing neighborhood as partners at the table. We need to make sure that the neighbors feel heard and that there is someone advocating for them and their interests as development occurs.

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? 

Full disclosure: I am a Buckhead resident.

Buckhead grew to what it is today as part of Atlanta. We can both grow together for the next 50 years. As mayor, I know what we need to do to address the issues in Buckhead, and a priority of mine is to get boots on the ground and tackle these issues.

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? 

We need to follow the guidance of experts, not politicians. This applies to gatherings, venue/business capacities, and masks. I don’t pretend to be an expert. It’s in our interest to ensure that as many of our citizens are alive, healthy, and ready to go back to work or school when all of this is over. The easiest way to do this is to remove the political posturing and follow the guidance of experts. I plan to do my part as mayor and not get dragged into the politics of Covid.

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? 

I am uniquely positioned to work with our state legislators and the governor. I am a non-partisan candidate, I am not a Democrat or a Republican. I can approach our legislative counterparts as a partner, not a politician. We all share a common goal and interest to ensure that Atlanta and its citizens are at its best and have the support from the legislature to do this. So goes Atlanta; so goes Georgia.

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Kenny Hill

Atlanta mayoral candidate Kenny Hill
Kenny Hill

Photograph courtesy of campaign

Founder, The Launch Pad Foundation
Campaign website: electkennyhill.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 Back the BluePrint calls for officer candidates serving as mentors in schools to establish connections between officers and the communities they serve. This will reinforce the mandate to serve and protect our citizens. Establishing community and public safety events in each NPU will foster better relationships between officers and community members as well. It’s rare for officers that are connected to the communities that they serve to use excessive force or brutalize residents. Our leadership and training will enforce the message and responsibility to serve and protect the citizens of Atlanta.

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? 

Crime is the issue that everyone is focusing on, and rightly so. However, unity and cohesiveness in our city is the key to reaching permanent solutions to crime, affordable housing, economic disparities, etc. Without coming together and working on solving these problems, we will only get temporary fixes that won’t last. Further, the protests that turned into riots and damage to our city will return if we don’t elect leadership that can build consensus. This is why I am running for mayor. I know many of the “leading” candidates, and they are polarizing, not unifying in their leadership style. I can bring our city together.

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? 

There have been many discussions around which percentage of AMI we should target for affordable housing. I own a multifamily property that houses three types of tenants. Formerly homeless single mothers and their children are sponsored by my nonprofit, The Launch Pad Foundation. Atlanta Housing Authority voucher program participants are the second tier of tenants, and market-rate tenants are the third group of tenants. This mixed income approach works and provides housing for people below 50 percent AMI, combined with programming to assist them in becoming candidates for better paying jobs. There is no benefit for the tenant or developer in leaving people in the 50-percent AMI category.

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? 

Our city deserves world-class transit. I will work with MARTA and the state and federal governments to complete the BeltLine with light rail in dedicated lanes. We must partner with the railroads to reach agreements to utilize their tracks to complete the project. Once this centerpiece is in place with the needed substations, our transit system will be greatly enhanced.

Just as crucial will be enhancing the transit into neighboring cities and counties. Much of the workforce for jobs in Atlanta now live in other areas and need effective transit to job centers.

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?

Development is critical to advancing our city. Development done correctly brings jobs and improves the quality of life for residents. Development must make sense financially for the developer to invest in a project. With respect to incentives for developing affordable housing, the city owns over 800 acres of land. This land should be used as the incentive for developers to build affordable housing. The relationship with Fulton County needs to be improved on several levels. I look forward to bridging the communication and execution gaps.

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? 

Our citizens have been let down over and over again by career politicians and a broken system. My administration will focus on integrity and transparency beginning with my role and my executive team. I will support an anonymous fraud and waste hotline and website for citizens and city employees to report wasteful and fraudulent activity. We will track the financial impact of avoided fraud and offer rewards to those who report it.

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?

Our tree canopy must be retained. Not only is it aesthetically beautiful, but it provides tremendous benefits to our climate. Protecting our canopy must be top of mind for all development projects. Any trees that are clear cut must be replaced with new plantings, including the proposed public safety facility. We must increase the staffing of arborists to provide adequate response and oversight of projects. Education for canopy preservation must be shared to prevent trees from succumbing to English ivy and kudzu.

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 completion of the BeltLine will transform our city and spur development. There is significant land that still must be acquired. Some levels of gentrification are market-driven and unavoidable at this point. We can and should provide affordable housing in all new developments along the Beltline. Just as important will be the resources being made available for low wage earners to receive access to careers of the future. Changing the earning power of low-income individuals can take from nine months to two years. This investment provides opportunity for a better quality of life including housing options. Providing affordable housing without addressing income inequality is not a sustainable solution.

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? 

I understand the frustration that the residents of Buckhead are experiencing. The crime and lack of services is unacceptable. These issues must be addressed with immediate and sustained results. Under my leadership, crime and city services will be high priorities. We will address the individuals and establishments that are responsible for criminal behavior and address the root causes of youth crime. Secession from the City of Atlanta will not solve the crime problem but will cause deeper division and higher taxes for everyone. We all will benefit from returning our focus to the Atlanta Way of handling issues.

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? 

The impact of Covid-19 has changed many aspects of our lives. As a city, we have lost revenue; as individuals, many of us have lost friends and loved ones. The focus on recovery has now been upstaged by the delta variant. While we all wish for a return to normal, we may be facing variants for some time. Protecting the health of our citizens while supporting the local economy is the balance that must be maintained. As mayor I would continue the push for vaccinations according to CDC guidelines to protect as many people from serious illness as possible. I would also advocate face mask wearing for indoors if there are flare-ups of the variant. Business shutdowns and curfews are last resort measures that should only be considered under dire surge conditions.

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? 

Communication and cooperation between City Hall and the state capitol has often been challenging at best and dysfunctional at worst. I believe that there needs to be a level of respect and decorum for the office and role of the governor, regardless of political party. As mayor, I will extend this level of respect and professional courtesy to the governor and would hope to establish open communication on issues impacting the city and state. I would not expect agreement on every issue but would strive for open communication. Being able to respectfully disagree on issues but maintain mutual respect provides a foundation for future collaboration.

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Rebecca King

Atlanta mayoral candidate Rebecca King
Rebecca King

Photograph courtesy of campaign

CEO, Cover Your Assets

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? Officers must be held accountable, just as citizens are. 

Hiring additional police officers is a start. However, the root cause of crime needs to be addressed. Police officers that partner with Neighborhood Planning Units and attend community events will help in proactive leadership, instead of reactive policing, and will build trust in the community. Training for officers that addresses mental illness and recognizing those characteristics will be paramount to success. Expanding the pre-arrest diversion program to around-the-clock availability and expanding services for homelessness will increase opportunities to address the root cause of crime.

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? 

Homelessness is a dire situation and has so many facets to its root cause. By addressing homelessness, money can be redirected back to its intended focus. God bless anyone that can hold a job while homeless, as it is definitely a challenge. Dealing with homelessness should be proactive, as the reactive result is resources spent on policing and medical care, rather than a person being able to be gainfully employed.

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?

Affordable housing needs a multi-layered approach. Units that are being utilized now need to have tenants elevated to an increase in income by training of education, therefore opening available stock. Abandoned houses need to be revitalized and given occupants. Having the City of Atlanta finally address infrastructure such as stormwater runoff and roads that are gravel or that have not been paved in decades will give all neighborhoods viability. The tax appraisal structure needs to be adjusted so that the cost is not passed to tenants, and costs can stay as structured and not fluctuate.

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?

While Atlanta is aching for world-class transit, the current structure does not entice people for ridership. It is disjointed and inefficient to completely rely on mass transit without making the day wholly dedicated to travel. First, travel to transit must be passable by road or sidewalk. Infrastructure must meet the transit option. Neighborhood shuttles and last-mile connectivity are critical. Relationships are built by trust and transparency in how dollars are spent. I have spoken to many elected officials in our region and will continue to engage and build relationships so that Atlanta is rejuvenated and transit is a priority.

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?

My administration will ask that each development be analyzed to determine if a return on investment is justified for a public incentive. If a development is already occurring in an area, there would not be a need to incentivize a developer. Maintaining a case-by-case basis with justification and return on investment will allow the possibility of opportunity that could be needed for neighborhood revitalization. As mayor, I will encourage transparency in any agency that manages government dollars.

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?

As mayor, I will welcome any opportunity to push for transparency in my administration and through any opportunity to “open the books” with other government entities or entities tied by distribution of tax dollars. The digital options today offer a wide range of opportunities for any organization to be transparent. My administration will provide a website page dedicated to all transactions that my office is involved in.

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 tree canopy legislation has languished at city council, so I will first request that the legislation be passed or maintained in its current form. The benefits of tree canopy have not been fully actualized by landowners. I will request that the planning department address the tree canopy in development. The tree canopy can reduce “heat islands,” therefore lowering energy costs, and can offset the increase in impervious surfaces, therefore, hopefully, reducing flooding. There are numerous acres that can be maintained and activated so that neighborhoods and the citizens of Atlanta have access to the beautiful tree canopy that will remain.

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?

Gentrification is already occurring in many neighborhoods in Atlanta. As major and minor developments come online, the planning department and neighborhood planning units will partner together to monitor neighbors’ viability to remain in their neighborhood. If there are stress points of neighbors being displaced, the liaison in my administration will work to partner the private and public sector and work quickly to address potential displacement of residents. Also important is the restructuring of how taxes are assessed when people are on fixed income. It is important to keep people in their homes, as it helps provide generational wealth.

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?

As a resident of Buckhead, it is critical that we remain in the City of Atlanta. Crime will not stop at an intersection, and many other problems will not be solved without a unified, proactive approach. Our services will be provided by the City of Atlanta with no representation. Schools will need to be purchased and our first responders will determine if it is economically feasible to leave the City of Atlanta’s pension plan. Corporate entities and nonprofits may not want to be associated with a suburb, therefore sales tax could plummet. Our diverse and vibrant city is worth rejuvenating.

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?

My administration will review information from reputable sources for policies and will continue to encourage vaccinations while also requesting that citizens consult their trusted health care professional.

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? 

As mayor, I will be clear about my representation of the citizens of Atlanta and keeping our best interests at the forefront of any policy or law. Since entities are domiciled in the State of Georgia, it is important to work together, as the state law supersedes city laws. Being in conflict can cause disastrous results for citizens and any entity domiciled in the State of Georgia. Maintaining and building relationships are important to the success of Atlanta, and Atlanta’s success is critical to the success of Georgia.

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Walter Reeves

Atlanta mayoral candidate Walter Reeves
Walter Reeves

Photograph courtesy of campaign

Labor activist

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? 

Atlanta has unfortunately become a magnet for [criminals]. Many cities, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, are experiencing the same issue. A Reeves Administration would ban [criminals] from our fair city.

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? 

A neglected policy issue is the ongoing scheme by lazy and envious state legislators to steal Hartsfield-Jackson Airport from the City of Atlanta. I’ve been out front on this issue for two years. A Reeves Administration would constitute [a tribunal] at Atlanta Municipal Court to address asymmetrical issues that threaten 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? 

One can’t discuss the issue of affordable housing without discussing the living wage movement. In Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser delivered the Fair Shot Minimum Wage ordinance for D.C. workers. A Reeves Administration would immediately implement a $16 minimum wage for Atlanta airport workers.

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? 

MARTA is on the right track with its expansion. Now for a shout-out to Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents MARTA workers!

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 Gulch municipal bond scheme was very sleazy. Developers should not be allowed to use the City of Atlanta as an ATM to fund private sector projects.

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 have a special skill building ruthlessly competent teams that get results. Let us not be so incompetent that we find ourselves at City Hall in violation of the Clery Act.

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?

One solution is a novel idea from Athens, Georgia. All Athenians are familiar with the “Tree That Owns Itself” on Deering Street. Citizens of Atlanta need to do something similar in order to save the tree canopy of Atlanta.

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? 

An ongoing high-profile development is Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, which belongs to Atlanta.

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 should join the City of Brookhaven, which already has a municipal code and a City Hall on Peachtree. Buckhead County can be carved out of Fulton and DeKalb by the state legislature. Athens has a unified city-county government, so should Brookhaven and Buckhead.

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? 

Mask mandates and vaccine mandates save lives. Downtown hospitality workers could do shifts in Atlanta hospitals to assist healthcare workers. Many hospital workers are on the verge of being burned out from the stress of the pandemic.

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? 

I build ruthlessly competent teams that get results. The Reeves team fought Governor Brian Kemp over the Atlanta airport and won.

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Roosevelt Searles

Entrepreneur
Campaign website:
rooseveltthepeoplesmayor.org

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? 

Everyday, an officer puts on their uniform, badge, and gun. The sole duty is to protect and serve the residents of their jurisdiction. Many times, they forget this simple motto, which leads to police brutality in most cases. My administration will implement several orders and introduce key pieces of legislation aimed at securing the safety, peace, and prosperity of Atlanta while easing tension on officers and freeing up non-emergency space. One key piece of legislation will be the “Protect and Serve Quota” requiring officers to do just that, protect and serve on each shift by positively engaging with the public.

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? 

Poverty and homelessness. Unfortunately, career politicians don’t understand the severity of the issue. Lack of resources leads to hunger. Hunger leads to anger. Anger leads to crime. The pattern is simple to follow, but some just choose to ignore it all. We have been clouded with corruption for decades and the people are finally starting to question where the money is going. Once we fully commit to addressing the poverty issue and wealth gap, then the transformation will begin. Being that I have been homeless before, I know that any decisions made will truly be in the interest of the people.

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? 

On day one, the plan is to introduce legislation to the city council making way for modular homes and buildings to be placed throughout the city. These cost-efficient, sustainable homes, condos, apartments, and centers will be utilized to pick up those who have fallen. This technology has the capabilities of building an entire home in 24-48 hours. This will not only give us the opportunity to begin construction immediately but will allow those in need a chance to move in within a few weeks. With over 700 acres of unused, city-owned land, we have more than enough space to make this possible.

5. 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? 

The Parks and Rec Department receives over $40 million per year, not to mention TSPLOST money. We have to see where the money has been going and redirect it to creating more public sidewalks. I have heard several complaints from parents and residents who do not feel safe walking to the store or down the block due to the lack of available sidewalks. We need more biking trails, and I plan to hire the best transit advisor in the nation. We should look at other countries whose transit is far better and see where we can improve ours.

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? 

Most definitely. We have to provide incentives all across the board. My administration will open an investigation into how prior funds were spent on top of how contracts were awarded. We will work to secure peace and advocate for a revitalization of the development authority regardless of what obstacles may arise.

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’m a person, not a politician. No prior pay-for-play politics. No bribes, no investigations, no indictments, no subpoenas, and no federal cases. I have dedicated my life to holding myself and those around me accountable. My administration has plans to audit and investigate each city department within five weeks of inauguration. In addition, city officials will not be allowed to use government credit cards pending an investigation.

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?

My administration would introduce legislation designed to protect the city’s green canopy. For far too long, City Hall has ignored the needs and wants of the people. All you have to do is follow the money. Even when it comes down to “Cop City,” the money should be followed, simply because we all know too well that contracts rarely fall in the hands of small business owners and contractors.

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? 

Many of these projects have already led to rampant gentrification, so what we have to do now is repair—go back and ensure those families have a secure place once their home is sold. That is why I support the work of Atlanta Land Trust. By establishing relationships with community members and installing protections against gentrification, we will soon see the change we are longing to see.

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 should get to choose who governs them. Therefore, if they want to govern themselves by majority vote, then they should be afforded the right to do so. We all live in a free country where anything is possible. Buckhead feels left out, and so would I. The only question is, what do we do today? I’ve spoken to Bill White [the CEO and chair of the Buckhead City Committee] directly, and he assured me that Buckhead City was happening. We ought to be right when it gets here.

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? 

We are at a point of almost no return. Sucicide, depression, anxiety, and being stressed out due to the lack of interaction with friends and family. America is under experimentation and we are all witnessing it first hand. I will do whatever it takes to ensure that we collaborate with Atlanta Public Schools, parents, and those who fight daily for the choice to choose. I do not support mandated lockdowns or curfews.

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? 

I am super excited to work with the governor, simply because I am ready to negotiate and vouch for the cleanse of City Hall.

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Richard Wright

Atlanta mayoral candidate Richard Wright
Richard Wright

Photograph courtesy of campaign

Accountant
Campaign website: wrightforatl.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 administration will implement the “Equality in Policing” paradigm. The Atlanta Police Department will stop policing zones and start “District Policing.” Each district will have a major responsible for public safety in that district. Each district will have a district website where APD officers’ names, badges, and superior officers are available. Citizens will be able to leave comments. The website will drive transparency and communication along with positive interaction between citizens and police. Police will be vetted to better standards; no longer will police with implicit biases be allowed on the force. I intend to hire around 500 more police officers—250 from outside Atlanta and 250 from inside Atlanta. My administration’s police department will reflect the racial demographics of Atlanta.

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? 

Systemic poverty causes systemic crime. Systemic crime is easier to talk about than systemic poverty. Systemic crime can be blamed on the school system, parents, the environment. Systemic poverty must lay at the feet of the elected officials. This is why career politicians former and current talk about everything but the fact that 22.2 percent of Atlanta residents are in poverty. As a CPA, I know how to engage with lenders and create programs that will bring economic stability to our most in-need communities. Once poverty is strategically tackled by implementing a comprehensive [plan], people will see opportunities to improve themselves and their families.

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? 

My administration will implement My LOAN My HOME platform. The My LOAN My HOME program will use data to increase opportunities for citizens to purchase homes. My administration will work with banks to include apartment rental payment history to increase FICO scores so people who are near a 620 can get approved for a home loan. My administration also will also use the property currently owned by the city to construct 12-plex structures. Atlanta has a missing middle issue. Builders build luxury high rises or half-million-dollar single-family homes. As a CPA, I am better suited to negotiate with businesspeople than politicians. I will continue to fund programs like the One Atlanta action plan.

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?

As mayor, I will create an Office of Infrastructure to build a better, more environmentally friendly transportation system. The Office of Infrastructure will work with MARTA and the Atlanta BeltLine to more than double the currently projected amount of 15 miles to 40 miles of light rail by 2040. My administration will partner with metro Atlanta counties to expand MARTA. Connecting metro Atlanta will lower our greenhouse gas emissions due to fewer cars on the highway.

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?

I want developers to have the best interest for Atlanta [in mind] when they decide to build. Priority will be towards the city’s needs rather than wants. I will also consider positive green buildings, and low-carbon-cost buildings [will be] given priority when developers bids come in.

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? 

My administration will issue a quarterly 10-A which will include material financial data, a MD&A, and an ESG report to all businesses and citizens of Atlanta. Communication is critical to transparency. Along with the 10-A, I will send a “Report Card” for all citizens to fill out, grading my administration. Here, they get to rate my administration’s work and give feedback. Corruption is a product of elected officials paying back the people who fund their campaigns. It’s going to continue to happen as long as we continue to elect politicians who collect millions of dollars from special interest groups. It starts by voting in people who are ethical and driven by what their administration can do for all the people.

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?

My administration will pass the tree ordinance. Next, as part of my GreenAtlanta platform, analyze our green infrastructure with community stakeholders. My administration will work with NPUs, not for-profit groups and corporate groups to expand the average size and function of our parks as part of the Adopt-a-Park program that matches parks in low-income areas with corporate sponsors. We currently spend [about] $151 per resident on our parks. The Department of Parks and Rec has [roughly] a $44 million dollar budget for 2022. How efficient are those taxpayer dollars being spent? Green infrastructure will be a priority in my administration. My administration will provide robust support for Activate Atlanta’s plan on improving our parks.

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 BeltLine project is one that can, with proper leadership, create thousands of jobs and spur billions of dollars of economic growth for Atlanta. My administration will monitor TAD (Tax Allocation District) dollars to insure high-density structures include affordable housing units and protect legacy residents from dramatic increases in property tax liabilities. My administration will make sure gentrification is equitable and inclusive.

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? 

My administration will promote a One Atlanta policy. I want Buckhead to remain a part of Atlanta. Atlanta is stronger together than it will ever be apart. Crime is the number one issue facing Atlanta, but Atlanta also has leadership issues. City leadership doesn’t listen to its citizens. A lack of communication will ruin any relationship. My administration will repair the relationships in our city, as well as bring fiscal responsibility to city budgeting and spending.

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?

Governor Kemp took the wrong approach by risking the health and safety of others by prohibiting mask mandates and refusing to mandate a stay-at-home order until it was almost too late. I will make the tough decisions to implement a curfew if the experts say it is needed. All city government buildings will continue to require mask-wearing, and vaccinations will be strongly encouraged.

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? 

Governor Kemp and I will work to establish a mutual respect. That being said, I will call out him and anyone else out for pushing a partisan agenda that will affect the lives of the citizens of my city and state. Governor Kemp had one of the worst responses as governor of any state to Covid-19, and I will not let any partisan issue get in the way of people’s health and safety. Governor Kemp wanted to keep Georgia open. He should have provided extra resources in the form of law enforcement to help mitigate the challenges of remaining open during a Pandemic. I would have requested extra resources from GA leadership to help keep Atlanta safe during the pandemic.

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Glenn S. Wrightson

Former mayoral candidate
Campaign website: glennwformayor.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?

As mayor, I would:

    • Hire more officers
    • De-train the police from overtly aggressive actions
    • Use technology smartly
    • Have officers assigned as community liaison to each NPU
    • Have officers frequent local events
    • Walk beats
    • Install more cameras and outdoor lighting
    • Reopen the city jail

I would attend high school assemblies and request that all Atlanta Public School students have a field trip to visit City Hall and meet police department representatives. I would coordinate with APS to plan revisionary programs for troubled youth. I would expand the city’s volunteer program with the Parks and Recreation Department involving the 33 recreational centers.

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? 

As mayor, I would spotlight the need for civility in our communities. I would stress that the laws are established for the good of the community at large and no individual actions are to supersede the rights of the community.

We have become too accepting of individuals who disrupt the safety and cohesion of a modern society. We must seek to maintain standards that are expected in a civilized society. These standards are not being addressed.

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? 

I would work with the Atlanta Housing Authority to issue bonds to build low-income housing. I would change city operations to be more efficient and productive, thereby reducing the pressure to maintain or raise taxes. Higher taxes directly impact the cost of home occupancy. I would work to shift the disproportionate cumulative higher property assessment of the residential class to the under-accessed commercial class.

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?

I would support any and all plans to further the expansion and integration of the regional transportation assets. I would encourage tie-ins with a newly constructed streetcar system. I would advocate that we, as a community, commit to constructing one mile of MARTA rail per year.

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?

I would discourage giving tax credits to stimulate excessive growth. The issuance of tax credits to businesses to attract higher-wage employees is contributing to gentrification, which because of our tax assessment procedures and practices, forces higher taxes upon legacy residents. I would encourage modest tax credits to developers that build affordable units near MARTA. We should not seek to grow at a pace exceeding our expansion of infrastructure capacity.

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? 

As mayor, I would “open the books” of any and all transactions on a by-request basis.

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?

I would restrict cutting down trees over six inches in diameter without a notarized professional opinion from a certified arborist. I would require all businesses registered to do business in Atlanta that cut down trees to file a report of any tree removal and cross-reference that report with the professional opinion. Violation of the procedures would result in fines to both the property owner and the business.

With developments, I would seek to have zoning/building permits designate preserving maximum tree coverage.

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? 

I foresee expansion of the BeltLine to have the largest “gentrification impact.” The way to lessen the “impact,” which may be defined as rising property taxes, is to change the current property tax assessment formula and the disproportionate, relatively higher assessment of the residential class as compared to the commercial class.

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? 

As mayor, I would discourage a new Buckhead City. Buckhead should want to remain a part of Atlanta because the school system in the new city would still be a part of the Atlanta Public School system, and a city government and school system governance should have the same electorate base.

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?

I would follow the guidelines provided by the CDC and scientific community. I would require all city personnel be vaccinated or either be reassigned to another work position or terminated.

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? 

I would encourage the state to recognize that the density of persons in Atlanta warrants measures that are more restrictive than the rural portions of the state. Logically, the state should allow the city to set its own policies without state interference.

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