I offer myself as a candidate for the Atlanta City Council, District 3 because if we meet the challenges that remain and embrace the opportunities before us and in the future we will have one of the best, diverse, vibrant, and inclusive districts in the city. I am fiercely devoted to maintaining and enhancing the quality of life of all neighborhoods in the District. I support balanced growth and believe through smart investment, education, technology, and workforce development, we can solve the problems of unemployment and poverty that remain in some pockets of the District. Under my leadership, there will be a future promise for all in the District.
District 3 would benefit tremendously from independent, experienced servant-leadership. I offer such leadership with expertise in economic, community, and workforce development and experience in education as a professor, vice president of community development, and former Georgia college president. I desire to continue serving and giving back to the District where I have lived for 38 years and, along with my wife, raised, two lovely daughters (one of whom just bought her first home in Washington Park). I have the time, energy, vision, experience and resources to devote myself, fulltime, to the duties and responsibilities of office.
Moreover, I do not owe anything to any special interest or individual and can truly make decisions that are in the best interest of the residents of District 3 and the city.
In the past, I served with distinction for two terms on the Atlanta City Council prior to the tenures of Councilman Michael Julian Bond and Councilman Ivory Lee Young, Jr., respectively. Although I leave a record for which I am proud—author of the First Source Jobs policy that provided private sector jobs for residents, negotiator of the $8 million Dome Stadium Trust Fund (with a $50 million impact) to build affordable housing in Vine City and English Ave. (Councilman Young purchased one of the homes in the area), catalyst for assembling and purchasing parcels along MLK and Joseph E. Lowery, Blvd., now known as Historic Westside Village, and author of the most comprehensive ethics legislation of the time—I am not running on the past, but on the opportunity and promise for the future.
Collaboration & Inclusion
Further, my experience working in the executive branch of Atlanta (under two mayors) as Chief of Communications and Marketing and Executive Director of Community Technology and as Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Development over planning and development (including permitting), economic, workforce and Human Development for DeKalb County have provided me insight into the executive functioning of government and will enable me to work effectively with, and between, the executive and legislative branches.
The District is more diverse ethnically and economically than in the past and my collaboration and problem solving skills are needed now more than ever. Not only will I enhance unity among city councilmembers, I will help unify our neighborhoods. Throughout the District, transition and change is evident. As the District becomes more diverse, it is important that no one gets displaced or taxed out of their homes. It is equally important that as new residents select to live on the beloved west-side of the city that we do our best to bring new and indigenous residents together working on solving new and lingering issues that affect all and lead to neighborhood improvements for the future good of the District and this great city.
I am running for three main reasons:
1. Economic, Community, and Workforce Development (ECWD): I want to complete the job I started (and Councilmen Young and Bond continued) to bring ECWD to every neighborhood in the district. In office I will evaluate my First Source Jobs policy to ensure that it is working as it was envisioned. I will beef up the enforcement sections in the policy if needed. As former president of a technical college that specializes in economic and workforce development, I will bring expertise that resulted in a 76% graduation rate, 82% retention rate [highest in state], 99.1% job placement rate, and the largest Adult Education Program (GED) in the state, to bear on all educational and workforce development programs in the city.
As the former executive director of community technology for the city, I was the founder of the city’s cyber center program which was a national best practice for providing internet, computer, and digital literacy skills to residents to help bridge the digital divide. More than 25,000 Atlanta residents, many in District 3, participated in this $8.1 million program, all paid for by the private sector, using no taxpayer dollars. There is still work to be done on digital literacy and broadband access. I will leverage the knowledge and resources of Georgia Tech, the Atlanta University Center, and other educational institutions to ensure that all neighborhoods have access to affordable broadband in their homes for educational and workforce development needs of our children and residents.
2. Public Safety. We must improve safety in the district. Promoting community policing, stimulating more citizen engagement, increasing the salaries of, and hiring more police officers and first responders are actions that will make a difference. We need to make better use technology to improve public safety through the establishment of intraoperative networks that facilitate information sharing among first responders.
Also, we need to get serious about eliminating gang violence through more aggressive law enforcement but also by providing more recreational and after-school educational programs (in partnership with APS) like the digital literacy and job training programs described above. Our communities must develop proven community standards that discourage youth crime while at the same time provide viable alternatives so youth and young adults make better choices and do not become involved with gang and drug culture. We need a multifaceted approach that empowers citizens and supports law enforcement.
3. Livable/Sustainable Neighborhoods. Most residents value the neighborhoods in the city where they live above all. We must make every neighborhood safe, clean, and sustainable which we know leads to healthy living and longevity. No neighborhood should be flooded by storm or sewer water. We need more community input on infrastructure improvements such as retention ponds, green spaces, complete streets, and more sustainable developments. We must ensure that all neighborhoods have access to fresh food, and we must eliminate food deserts. I will work with the county health department to support sustainable living.
Affordable housing is an issue in the District and throughout the city. Renters, on average, pay over 50% of their take-home pay on rent. The average cost to purchase a home in Atlanta has led to a housing crisis and homelessness. The city needs to do all within its authority to ensure that the city’s housing stock is diverse and affordable. Access to clean, safe and affordable housing is one of the human rights we all cherish. I intend to rewrite my policy on vacant lots and strengthen code enforcement and encourage citizen engagement by deputizing residents to form citizen posses to assist in code enforcement. I will work with the Atlanta Housing Authority to ensure that all new residents with Section 8 vouchers are welcomed into all neighborhoods but receive an in depth orientation to homeowner focused communities.
I will also provide resources to ensure that historic neighborhoods like Washington Park, desiring historic designation, get support to complete their applications
District 3 now includes all or most of Georgia Tech, Atlantic Station, and parts of the Gulch and Midtown West. The next councilmember must be confident and conversant with an array of complex issues that affect diverse areas as these and the “bluff”—all important to the future of Atlanta. This is not the time for on-the-job-training, we need an experienced leader. Let’s keep the momentum moving forward. Let’s work together collaboratively to ensure that all benefit from the progress at hand and in the future.
This is why I am running for City Council, District 3.