In my terms on the Atlanta City Council, I have been a productive legislator—authoring, coauthoring and passing record numbers of meaningful legislation, more legislation per term than any other Atlanta city councilmember in the Council’s history.
In my first two terms, I doubled the amount of Community Development Block Grants funds invested in my district, totaling more than $25 million. During this time, I led the fulfillment of the City's 30-year promise to rebuild the historic Washington Park Natatorium, and secured over $130 million for the creation of the Westside Village on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive--the largest single investment in the African-American community in Georgia.
As the Post One Councilmember, I have championed affordable housing and community development initiatives including the Summerhill Community Trust Fund (capitalized at $5 million), Affordable Housing Impact Statement, $50 million Homeless Opportunity Project, Westside Tax Abatement—a 20 year property tax abatement program, and most recently, pending legislation to be included in the City’s 2018 Georgia General Assembly legislative package to cap annual property tax increases for homesteaded residential properties and commercial real estate.
I believe public service is a noble enterprise, and I have dedicated my life to public service in Atlanta—as an elected official and community leader. I am a proven leader who has not only held office, but who has been effective in office.
Having rebuilt the City’s reserves and the employees’ pension plan in the past eight years, the City of Atlanta is in its best fiscal shape in more than a generation. Now we must determine fiscally-sustainable ways to build a fully-staffed and well-compensated public safety workforce.
We must ensure that public safety personnel can afford to make a full career with the City of Atlanta, and protect the City’s investment in these personnel by paying competitive, equitable and living wages. More competitive compensation including benefits is one key to addressing the city’s public safety challenges. Atlanta’s public safety personnel (Fire, Police and Correction officers) should be the highest paid in the state of Georgia, if not the region.
To address salary concerns and attrition, I introduced legislation to create a Public Safety Compensation Commission to define equitable salary numbers, perform annual or biannual salary analysis and make regular recommendations to the City Council and Mayor to ensure that public safety personnel salary data is always current. Salary and benefits remain among the top reasons that attribution is high for these departments. I hope to continue this pursuit for our public safety officers.
I am a strong believer of ethics and transparency in government and have been a long-time supporter of the City’s Ethics Office. I recently approved legislation to secure a company to place all the City’s financial transactions online for real-time viewing by the public.
To address issues of ethics and transparency regarding city contracting, I would augment the current procurement process to provide for greater transparency to the greatest extent that it is possible under law. For example, the City should have the names of employees who participate in bid selection committees published to encourage greater accountability and transparency. Lists including the names of companies or individuals bidding on projects can also be made public at an appropriate point in the process. In all cases, propriety information would be protected and in the case of sealed bids, those requirements would be upheld. Bid conferences could also be established and live-streamed for public consumption and transparency. Finally, the City must strictly limit emergency requests-for-proposals.
Atlanta is known for its advocacy of civil and human rights, diversity and inclusion. As a lifelong Atlantan, I am proud to be an ardent and consistent supporter of legislation and initiatives to ensure that Atlanta is a welcoming city for all people. Atlanta bears the official status of the Welcoming Cities initiative and has established an Office of Immigrant Affairs, investing resources and time—with the support of corporate citizens—to ensure that foreign-born entrepreneurs and newcomers to our city can contribute fully, enjoy success and join in our efforts to lead in all quality of life and economic indicators among Global Cities.
While the Atlanta region struggled with air quality compliance for more than 20 years—paying millions to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a 2016 report brought welcomed news that our air quality is far better than it has been in a decade. During the past decade, the City of Atlanta, private companies and the State of Georgia have implemented telework, rideshare and commuter incentive programs to decrease the number of cars on the region’s roads. We also invested in energy efficiencies and passed environmentally-responsible legislation such as “anti-idling” policies for government fleet vehicles. The City of Atlanta recently passed a TSPLOST (transportation special purpose local option sales tax) to invest in more transit and pedestrian-friendly options for Atlantans to utilize for travel to work, recreational or residential spaces. These initiatives will link with the Atlanta Beltline and MARTA to ensure last-mile connectivity. Going forward, the Atlanta region must create coordinated, county-to-county transportation linkages. Examples include managed lanes for bus rapid transit to outlying areas and light-rail in other landlocked areas. These initiatives will substantially reduce carbon pollution and clean our region's air.
First, I am born and raised in the city of Atlanta, I’m proud product of Atlanta Public Schools, and a former teacher in our school system. I have seen first-hand many of the challenges the city faces. As a school board member for 8 years, and chair for the last 4, I have worked to improve the systems graduation rate from 51% to 71%, we have reduced the size of central office, increased classroom spending, secured over $542 million for school construction, and launched a 20 million dollar partnership with Achieve Atlanta to increase college access. I led the negotiation to resolve a dispute with the city over the Atlanta Beltline—ensuring $100 million in new revenue for Atlanta’s students.
I have a track record of building coalitions, working with other elected officials, partnering with stakeholders to bring about positive change for our city.
The biggest budget issue facing the city is finding a way to preserve and protect the city's supply of affordable housing. To this end, the city must deploy additional housing bonds, seed an affordable housing fund with at least $50 million in direct investment, explore a potential penny sales tax for affordable housing, redesign some of the TADs in the city so that the excess growth in the tax digest can be used to support affordable housing and other community needs.
First, elected leaders and city employees must act in an ethical and transparent fashion. The city should also mandate ethics training for all employees and elected officials. Next, the city should establish an anonymous ethics hotline to make it easier to report wrong doing and protect whistleblowers. Lobbyist should have to register with the city clerk and written record should be kept and disclosed of all meetings between city officials and lobbyist similar to the process used at the State level. A full independent audit should be used to review the city's procurement process. Lastly council members should be required to disclose all of their expenditures on a monthly basis.
The city should; stiffen penalties for individuals who target immigrants with crime, make an intentional effort to promote opportunities to do business with the city to immigrant Atlantans, ensure to feature and promote arts and entertainment from a wide variety of cultures.
The city should also ensure that local law enforcement is not used to enforce anti-immigrant policies and lobby Congress to protect DREAMERS and ultimately pass the Dream Act.
The city recently adopted a legislation that would put the city on track operate on 100% renewable energy by 2035. In addition to taking action to protect Atlanta's tree canopy, the city needs to implement its clean energy plan with fidelity.