Job Application: Mayor of Atlanta
QUALIFIED TO GOVERN
Q: What do you think is the most important role of the mayor?
A: I believe the most important role of the mayor is to represent the constituents of the City of Atlanta. This is done by setting direction and expectations within the city government, representing the interests of the City at the regional, state, national and international level. That’s why I’m committed to be “Everybody’s Mayor.”
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: In January 2012, I declared the “Year of Boulevard” and rallied residents and friends of the neighborhood to turn their attention to the children, families, and seniors of the Boulevard corridor, which is home to the highest concentration of poverty in the southeastern United States. Year of Boulevard (YoBoulevard!) introduced Atlantans to people in a part of the city long ignored. I sought to put a spotlight on an issue of citywide concern: Atlanta has been great at building buildings but not so great at building people. In the first year alone, we opened a local police mini-precinct to improve public safety; raised tens of thousands of dollars to support local after-school programs and summer camps; opened a new off-leash dog park; and partnered with the Atlanta Hawks to restore long-neglected basketball courts. In the years since, we have worked together to open a new playground and a second dog park and established a resident-run food co-op.
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: The German Marshall Memorial Fellowship focuses on building and maintaining relationships to bridge the transatlantic gap. Through this program I had the opportunity to travel extensively and get to know myself and those I was traveling with on a deeper level. I studied several areas: transportation, urban studies, public/green spaces and historic preservation. I had the opportunity to see some of the best practices in each of these areas and bring them to Atlanta. I found that even when we are in disagreement, when there is trust and open dialogue, most issues can be solved. I am a graduate of all three: LEAD Atlanta, Leadership Atlanta and Leadership Georgia. Through these programs I had the opportunity to build many relationships with other leaders on all levels whose perspective is valuable to decision-making in the city. I think a good leader has the ability to see issues from multiple angles and perspectives and that the best problem-solving is done through open dialogue.
Q: What does it mean to be an Atlantan/ATLien in 140 characters or less?
A: To be an Atlantan is to believe that anything is possible.
Q: What is a new slogan for our city that could unite Atlantans and highlight who we are as a people?
A: We grow together.
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: Community input and working with neighborhoods is key, and it is at the core of everything I’ve done as a Councilmember. As Mayor, I would break them up into quadrants and take the top 10 most likely to be redeveloped in each quadrant and undertake a community-driven planning process.
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 think the NPUs are a great tool to maintain some level of balance between neighborhood interests and developers and I think they give a path to future city leaders. But they are not a substitute for proactive planning. I would like to see more methods used to create dialogue and seek input in addition to the monthly NPU meetings so we are able to hear from more voices. I would like to see NPUs operate more uniformly, rather than having 25 different sets of rules and bylaws.
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: Everything I do is an example of this! One example that comes to mind is when some of my constituents wanted to tear down Bedford-Pine and start over. My perspective was very different, so I set about creating pathways for these constituents and residents of Bedford-Pine to develop relationships so that they could value each other in a new way.
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: People love to complain about traffic in our region. I would use my role as Atlanta Mayor to provide leadership and collaboration on regional transportation issues. I would like to support our friends in Clayton County to get the first commuter rail, and I would like to work with our neighbors in Gwinnett and Cobb to join MARTA. I would also like to collaborate with Georgia DOT, the Governor and the business community to bring the multi-modal station to reality.
STRONG INTEREST IN TRANSPARENCY
Q: What level of openness and transparency should the citizens of Atlanta expect from city government under your leadership?
A: My role as Mayor will be to establish the highest standards of ethical conduct and transparent management practices from the Mayor’s Office, to all top managers and down to the rank and file employees. We all are involved in delivering the services that our citizens need and deserve and we are doing that with their money. Honesty and transparency will be hallmarks of my administration and wrongdoers will find themselves at the receiving end of swift justice.
Q: Please describe any policies, programs, or ideas you are considering to increase the transparency of city government.
A: I would like to see more information easily accessible online. A great deal of information is online, but it can be cumbersome to find, especially if you don’t know the legislative system. I would also like to see 311 continue to evolve into a first-class customer service organization. As I mentioned above, I would like to utilize more methods in addition to in-person NPU meetings to seek input from and dialogue with our residents.