Job Application: Mayor of Atlanta
QUALIFIED TO GOVERN
Q: What do you think is the most important role of the mayor?
A: The most important role of the next Mayor will be to resolve the interconnected problems of transportation infrastructure, housing affordability and income inequality. I have a comprehensive plan to increase affordable housing options, with density focused along expanded transit lines by investing in infrastructure that will attract economic development. And I will partner with our education system to prepare our residents to access new, better paying jobs that come with economic development.
Q: Please describe, in sufficient detail, one professional accomplishment or contribution of which you are most proud. These examples should illustrate skills and capabilities you think apply to governing the City of Atlanta.
A: I introduced and brought to passage the only comprehensive non-discrimination bill in Georgia (at the local or state level) that provides private sector protections in housing, employment and public accommodations. Atlanta’s non-discrimination bill has served as a tangible sign of our commitment to equal opportunity for all and has allowed us demonstrate that we are a welcoming city for economic development. More importantly, it has allowed for real improvements in the lives of countless Atlanta residents. In all that I do, I am sure to never lose sight of the human aspect. It is easy to lose sight of that and get bogged down in the abstracts of policy but at the end of the day, it is the people that I am working for and they are who I put front and center in my decisions.
Q: Please list or describe no more than 3 current and past activities you participated in as a private citizen (not an elected official) in which you have acquired skills and perspectives that will make you a stronger mayor. Include your role in the activity and the year(s) in which you were involved.
A: Upon graduating college, my desire to serve others led me to volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps, from 1980 to 1982. Volunteering in Micronesia, I gained insight into the poverty and accompanying conditions that people all over the world must endure. It is one thing to be aware of this on an intellectual level, but living off of $7 a day for two years made it much more tangible to me. My extensive experience with policy also prepares me to lead Atlanta as Mayor. Whether fighting for equality with Human Rights Campaign, to protect the environment as Regional Director for League of Conservation Voters, or working to repeal Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws, I know what it takes to win sometimes difficult legislative fights in order to bring about real change for people's’ lives.
Q: What does it mean to be an Atlantan/ATLien in 140 characters or less?
A: To be an Atlantan means to embrace the cultural elements that make our city unique, and to follow the principles of our civil rights legacy.
Q: What is a new slogan for our city that could unite Atlantans and highlight who we are as a people?
A: “Moving Forward Together” is a slogan that captures the essence of our city. At our best, Atlanta is a city that walks hand-in-hand towards a progressive vision that is inclusive of all residents. This should be our approach to the development and population growth that is on the horizon. We can retain our city's character and ensure no one is pushed out by these imminent changes only with the attention to detail and deliberate, long-term planning that I will bring to the table as Mayor.
DEMONSTRATES PEOPLE-CENTERED APPROACHES
Q: The City of Atlanta currently owns several hundred surplus properties that could be redeveloped. In deciding what to do with these properties, what is the role of community input and when should it take place?
A: In all areas of governance and administration, I believe in following the will of the communities affected. This is especially true regarding decisions of major significance such as redeveloping these surplus properties. It is unacceptable to follow a path that could enrich a handful of stakeholders without benefiting the residents. I will be sure to provide extended opportunities for community input well before beginning any major initiatives in this area. I pledge to always have open channels of communication so that Atlantans can have their voices heard and truly taken to heart. City-owned assets like the Civic Center site and property owned along the BeltLine should be used to create new affordable housing options by having the private sector to build what we need, or to build housing in partnership with non-profit housing groups or the Atlanta Housing Authority. We should also be securing land in areas of future need so we can continue our growth in a sustainable way.
Q: The NPU system was envisioned as a place for communities to engage with development in their neighborhoods. How would your administration support the existing NPU system or seek to change it?
A: I am a strong believer in the wisdom of local control, because I know that nobody understands the unique dynamics and issues of an area better than those who live there. NPU’s are a vitally important mechanism to not only allow communities to have greater control of their neighborhoods, but to provide a check on the city government in times when it might unintentionally harm their interests. NPU’s also facilitate a greater degree of communication between government and neighborhoods, allowing a smoother functioning of city administration. I would like to preserve this community feedback system and work to strengthen it by increasing staffing and responsiveness. We should also utilize more technology for those who are unable to make it out to community meetings. These changes will facilitate greater incorporation of community feedback and empower the NPU system to have more of a say in what happens in their neighborhoods.
PROACTIVE & RELENTLESS RELATIONSHIP-BUILDER
Q: Give an example of a time when you had to collaborate with many people and/or organizations, especially those who may not hold the same views as you do.
A: As District 6 City Council-member, Chair of Atlanta’s Transportation Committee and City Council President, I brought the Atlanta BeltLine from a creative Master's thesis to implementation, by rallying community support. I held over 90 community meetings listening to residents about their needs and their vision for transit, parks and connectivity. Then I brought along the city, regional and federal agencies and funding needed to make the vision a reality. As Mayor of Atlanta, I will bring people together to get things done. I will leverage the strength of all of our neighborhood, faith, and community groups, as well as public-private partners, private sector investors, corporate leaders and small business owners, philanthropic funders, and federal, state and local agencies to do what is best for our City. I’m confident that I can assemble a diverse team to develop and manage a world-class city and work with that team to bring people together around a common vision to get things done.
Q: Using an example of one major Atlanta issue you would tackle with a collaborative approach, how would you build relationships across the city and region with other governments, private enterprises, or organizations to effect change in our city?
A: Housing affordability is one of our city’s most pressing issues and one that requires a collaborative approach. As Mayor, I will work to get all key players on the same page to address this issue head-on. That includes city and county officials, APS, MARTA, Invest Atlanta, and Atlanta Housing Authority, businesses, the development community, and nonprofits. We can protect long-term residents, especially if we focus density along transit. I have proposed to complete a 40-mile streetcar grid along approved routes within eight years to open up more corridors for residential growth. I will ensure that publicly owned permanent assets like the Civic Center site and property along the Atlanta BeltLine are used to create new affordable housing options. Finally, I will work to update legislation with the General Assembly to give Atlanta the authority to take action on property tax and gentrification related issues.
STRONG INTEREST IN TRANSPARENCY
Q: What level of openness and transparency should the citizens of Atlanta expect from city government under your leadership?
A: Voters can rest assured that I will be our most transparent and accessible Mayor. I will create a culture in City Hall from the top down that focuses on openness, service, and stewardship of public resources. This will include timely responsiveness to open records requests, audits and investigations. City employees will be encouraged to bring any concerns about ethics or the improper use of city resources directly and confidentially to an independent ethics officer. I will work with the Atlanta City Council to ensure that the ethics policies in the operations of our own offices are clear, transparent and up to date. Finally, I will obey the law at all times and will assume complete and total responsibility for all activity and operations at City Hall, rather than trying to pass the buck to a scapegoat.
Q: Please describe any policies, programs, or ideas you are considering to increase the transparency of city government.
A: My commitment to ethics and transparency is more than just campaign rhetoric. We will increase the transparency of public information to world-class professional standards and expand the capacity of our city Auditing Department to perform routine as well as special audits as requested by City Council and the Office of the Mayor. I will completely rebuild our Procurement and Building Permit Departments to ensure state of the art technology, best practice policies and procedures and restore confidence in the ethics and business practices of our city government. Ethics training will be a mandatory and regular requirement for all staff working with and for the City of Atlanta. In addition to this, my office will prioritize providing timely responses to open records requests so the public will never be left in the dark.