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Atlanta City Council District 5

The councilmember proposes bills, holds votes, and passes laws to help govern the city.
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    Liliana Bakhtiari Full-time Candidate for Atlanta City Council District 5

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Biographical Information

What experience do you bring to the job to set policy for your city and what is your motivation to serve?

What, in your opinion, is the biggest budget issue facing your city and how, if elected would you propose to address it?

How should your city address the issues of lobbyist gifts, ethical behavior, and transparency in government?

Legal Permanent Residents and naturalized citizens contribute over a billion dollars in state and local taxes each year. How will you help ensure your city is a welcoming place for foreign born entrepreneurs and their families?

Cities across the country are embracing aggressive goals to reduce carbon pollution. What do you believe your municipality should do to support cleaner air?

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Campaign Phone (678) 829-2209
I've spent the last 15 years being a vocal neighborhood and social justice advocate both in Atlanta and abroad in 22 different countries. My father is a first generation Iranian immigrant, and I learned my love of the civic process and the power of free speech from him. I believe I was 8 when I started attending political events with him, and I'm grateful for the early education on the need to be engaged and to give back to my community. For the past decade I have been a strong advocate for women and children's rights here in Atlanta. I'm a regular ally at City Hall for our first responders and working families, and I'm proud to be endorsed by PACE, Teamsters, AFSCME and the Atlanta Professional Firefighters, all of which originated from early advocacy work at City Hall. As a homeowner and small business owner in Grant Park, I was asked by several community leaders I trust to run for City Council, and I accepted. I believed our families and businesses deserved more than we were getting from City Council. I've served on several boards, am active in many neighborhood and business organizations, and I believe my Atlanta experience will serve well representing Southeast Atlanta.
Prior to last year, the answer would have been infrastructure repair and transit expansion, but with voters approving what could be $2.3 billion from TSPLOST, the hurdles there transfer over to distribution and oversight of those funds. Our next largest budget challenge is in the realm of affordability. After spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on increasing the number of affordable housing units in Atlanta, we have actually LOST five percent per year, every year, since 2012. It’s time to make smarter investments, and to show some real progress on an issue that is currently moving backwards. That will take a combination of downwardly adjusting our AMI formulas, additional concessions by developers, opening up our land bank, adjusting for inclusionary zoning, getting creative with permitting, and doing more with abandoned and vacant land.
I was a fan of the initial ethics legislation authored by Atlanta's second openly LGBT City Councilmember, Anne Fauver, in 2006 - but I don't think it went far enough. The state actually has a better ethics package than Atlanta right now, and that's not something we should be proud of. I believe lobbyist gifts should be limited to a cup of coffee, City Councilmembers should have mandatory annual ethics training, and that every bill, every dollar spent and every potential contract the City is considering should be in one place for voters to see, fully, at their convenience.
I am INCREDIBLY proud to be the daughter of immigrants - both first generation and second generation immigrants from Iran - and it's the first political issue my father taught me. Immigrant rights are near and dear to my heart and it is my hope to push Atlanta closer to officially designating itself a sanctuary city. While we can no longer be a leader on this issue given the large number of cities who have already designated themselves as welcoming cities or sanctuary cities, Atlanta should do what is best for our families and our businesses and move for a vote on this issue as soon as possible. Beyond official designation, I'd like to see a larger movement toward helping immigrant families, newly relocated to Atlanta, find suitable housing, gainful employment and to become healthy, happy contributing members of our city’s culture and economy.
Air quality is particularly difficult to manage. Air pollution distributes quickly, so almost everyone shares in the impact and the cost of cleanup. Enforcing regulations traditionally depend on tracking down the source of emissions - something some cities don't have the revenue for. Cleanup is even more expensive, but I believe it's actually one of a city's most important jobs given the direct links to heart disease, stroke, reproductive complications, cancer and asthma. In Atlanta, we can start by tackling our car dependency, building for a city with more sustainable forms of transit moving forward in order to reduce our current carbon footprint. This includes reducing parking, and increasing bike lanes. It includes public private partnerships with alternative fuel companies for electric/hybrid car infrastructure. And of course, it means more effective bus and light rail systems in order to make mass transit the easier and more affordable option. Additionally, I've studied different city's approaches to collecting data - the first major step to cleanup - and I like Chicago's citywide sensor network, Pittsburgh’s high-tech cameras that track pollution events; and Louisville's "citizen inhalers." I know we will need to dive deeper into cost and effectiveness, but I'm hopeful given the large number of options now available to us as we finally seriously tackle this important issue.

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