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 Office of Mayor is to act in the best interest of and work on behalf of the city and all of its residents. Essentially, the Mayor is the chief employee of the city and residents are the employers. I am a direct beneficiary of all the greatness this city has to offer, and as Mayor, it will be my job and highest honor to serve all of the residents of Atlanta and create opportunities for all Atlantans to take advantage of all the great things this city has to offer.
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: The professional accomplishment I am proudest of is creating 4 of the city's 10 Tax Allocation Districts (TADs). The purpose of the TADs are to use property tax dollars to fund revitalization efforts in underdeveloped neighborhoods and to promote development in areas of the city that are targeted for increased investment. The TADs were necessary because until then, most of the city's development efforts were focused on areas north of I-20, neglecting areas such as West End, where I have lived for over 20 years. I purposely created TADs in areas such as Campbellton Road, Howell/MLK, Metropolitan Parkway, and the stadium neighborhoods because I wanted to ensure that all quadrants of the city had the opportunity to grow and thrive with our city.
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.
1. Commercial Real Estate and Finance Attorney with DLA Piper LLC. Practicing law with the second largest global law firm in the world has provided me with knowledge and expertise to create tools such as tax increment financing and abatement bonds to be used as the public sector’s methods of bolstering development while simultaneously supporting critical objectives such as community revitalization, job growth, and affordable housing.
2. Alum of the Henry Crown Fellow Program with the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Participating in the Henry Crown Fellow Program provided me access to a global network of leaders that I can collaborate and share best practices to help solve many of Atlanta's most pressing issues in an innovate way.
3.Former President of the Gate City Bar. My participation in the Gate City Bar gave me access to civic and community level engagement in the City of Atlanta and provide me with a holistic view of what communities need to grow and thrive.
Q: What does it mean to be an Atlantan/ATLien in 140 characters or less?
A: To be an ATLien is to be resilient in any situation, to thrive in any circumstance, and to be victorious in the face of any adversity.
Q: What is a new slogan for our city that could unite Atlantans and highlight who we are as a people?
A: As Mayor, Ceasar Mitchell will build a more inclusive and prosperous city that works for and includes all Atlantans.
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: It is extremely important that residents have a say in what is happening in and surrounding their communities. One of the biggest complaints I receive is that residents feel that their government is happening to them instead of working for them. Under my leadership, Council is currently deliberating on legislation to convert nearly 1419 parcels of city-owned property into affordable housing options for residents. It is my belief that residents should have the ultimate decision of what properties can be used and how those properties should be utilized. As Mayor, I will ensure that residents are able to provide input through public hearings and the NPU process and will be able to participate in developing a plan prior to any final decision of how the property is to be used is decided.
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: A major priority for my administration will be to revise empower our current NPU system. The intended purpose of the NPU system was to ensure that residents could actively participation in city government decisions. However, the system that was once put in place to facilitate community input, has now been compromised and constantly ignored. As Mayor, I will strengthen the system to provide residents with opportunities to actively participate in the city's development plans, disseminate information concerning major functions of city government, and allow residents to express ideas and comment on city plans and proposals.
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: In 2015, payments owed by the city to APS for property used to develop the Beltline became overdue. The Mayor, refused to make any payments because he wanted APS to renegotiate the terms of the existing contract in a way that was more favorable to the city. However, APS refused to change the terms of the contract out of fear of not receiving monies owed. The disagreement led to very public and heated debates, protests, and breakdowns in communication on both sides. While I believed that a new contract was necessary, I knew that the city had to show good faith before asking for a new contract. I worked for months trying to reconcile the strained relationship with the city and APS. Consequently, I introduced controversial legislation requiring the city to pay the debt. As a result, the city eventually paid its debt to APS, both parties executed a mutually beneficial agreement, and now APS now has adopted an affordable housing strategy for the development of all of its properties.
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: To increase economic opportunities for all residents, I will create a 5-Star Alliance with the city, the business community, labor, institutions of higher learning, and Atlanta Public Schools to elevate the city's workforce development agency into a place where residents can find a career, instead of merely a job. I will reorganize the agency to focus on the job market’s current needs and equipping job seekers with the skills to supply those needs. I will incentivize businesses to open, relocate, and expand their operations into the southern region of the city to create more jobs and economic development in that area. I will offer credits to businesses who hire and retain residents from high unemployment neighborhoods and who utilize the city's workforce development agency to satisfy their labor needs. Lastly, I will work with our school system and labor to create a job readiness programs to prepare students who do not matriculate into college to join our workforce.
STRONG INTEREST IN TRANSPARENCY
Q: What level of openness and transparency should the citizens of Atlanta expect from city government under your leadership?
A: Residents can expect complete openness and transparency under my leadership. In fact, I am not waiting until I am elected Mayor to start, I am leading the fight to create a more transparent, open, and accountable City Hall right now! For example, in 2012, I fought to slow down the vote to award concession contracts for 126 food and beverage vendors and 24 retail vendors at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, which have now come under heavy scrutiny and is currently under investigation. As Mayor, I will open up our procurement process to make it more transparent and accessible for all those wanting to do business with the city. I am the first elected official and only Mayoral candidate to place their office financial expenditures online for public view. As Mayor, I will extend this practice citywide by placing all city financial expenditures and spending online for public view and inspection free of charge. Residents have a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent.
Q: Please describe any policies, programs, or ideas you are considering to increase the transparency of city government.
A: In addition to placing city financial expenditures online free of charge for public view, I will also bring transparency to the city's contracting and procurement process. As Mayor, I will place all city contracts and vendors online for public inspection to ensure fairness and transparency in the procurement process. I will limit the use of “no bid” contracts to only emergency conditions where there is a treat to the public, health, welfare or safety of residents so that all vendors have the same access and opportunity to participate and be awarded city contracts. Lastly, I will provide monetary rewards in the form of Whistleblower Incentives to encourage individuals to provide information leading to the termination or arrest of individuals engaging in unethical conduct and include a “Zero Tolerance” Retaliation Policy to prevent retribution against employees who expose wrongdoing. As Mayor, I will create the most transparent and ethical City Hall in the history of Atlanta.