Job Application: Mayor of Atlanta
QUALIFIED TO GOVERN
Q: What do you think is the most important role of the mayor?
A: To provide a bold and realistic vision for the city that prepares us for the future and solves the problems of the present. To provide the leadership and expertise which makes the vision possible, and inspires all our people to play their part. Specifically of the next mayor of Atlanta: To save us from the decades of neglect which has caused every facet of city responsibility to fall into a state of failure.
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: Easily my involvement in STAR at Georgia Tech. STAR (Students’ Temporary Assistance and Resources) is a student group that works to connect burdening students with the resources available on campus. In 2015, I piloted a program to temporarily house homeless students at Tech, when GT Housing was considering the program but stuck at liability issues. I used my knowledge of department resources and protocol to find solutions to their last remaining roadblocks and helped them launch this program.
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: Cycle Atlanta: My Master's project was to analyze and visualize Cycle Atlanta data to help planners and officials make more informed decisions about bicycle infrastructure. Through this process I learned a LOT about cycling habits throughout the city and helped develop the GT Master Bike Plan and the Cycle Atlanta Plan. I also learned a bit about how inadequate most parts of the City government are, and how just a few powerhouse individuals are holding the ship together. MARTA Army: I helped launch the MARTA Army, which organized volunteer efforts to help improve transit experience in Atlanta. Here, I towed the sign printing equipment all around the Atlanta area from East Point to Roswell (yes they're both outside Atlanta, just wanted depict the range), and got a feeling for what people like about where they live and what they are missing. Resilient Atlanta, which I'll explain in a later question.
Q: What does it mean to be an Atlantan/ATLien in 140 characters or less?
A: To be an Atlantan is to be a unique individual of the most diverse community in the South, and still stand in solidarity through tough times
Q: What is a new slogan for our city that could unite Atlantans and highlight who we are as a people?
A: A city too diverse for one slogan.
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: Neighborhood master plans would be given political weight. Desires for development and repair indicated by the neighborhood would be prioritized over all other development. Many of these extra parcels desperately need housing developed on them, but that isn’t the only widespread need in Atlanta. We can use this opportunity to encourage grocery stores, urban gardens, and local restaurants which would not only relieve the food desert issue, but also provide employment and boost the local economy. Many neighborhoods from Lakewood to Buckhead have already gotten together and came up with what they want to see in their neighborhood, so there is no reason that these visions should not become a reality (within the realm of physical feasibility and sensibility of course).
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: Drawing inspiration from the “Nextdoor” app, I would redesign the NPU system to have overlapping boundaries, so that your input can be heard in all of the neighborhoods that are near to you and affect you, not just your own. Additionally, I would be clear about which meetings are on which day, organizing the dates such that each NPU Meeting is on a different day of the month so that I, or anyone, could go to any meeting, and it wouldn’t conflict with another NPU’s meeting. Most importantly, the NPU meeting would be broadcasted live on Facebook and Twitter, with notices posted on Nextdoor, Reddit, and of course the city’s site which I plan to get back in full working order.
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: I took part in the Resilient Atlanta working group for increasing transportation mobility, but this means different things to different people. I focused in improving connectivity for walkers, cyclists, and transit-riders, but this doesn’t usually go over well in Atlanta, a city where 92% of trips are made in a car. Some folks want to know what can be done to make their drive better. So I used a perspective that highlights how better infrastructure for other modes would actually improve trips made by car. I emphasized that new infrastructure for cyclists would be built separated from the roadway instead of taking a travel lane, and parking lot owners could be incentivized to redesign their lots to provide travel ways and amenities for cyclists and pedestrians without losing much parking. I used empathy to understand the needs of all the stakeholders I could think of, even those not present in the working group, to suggest policy that makes Atlanta better for all, not just some.
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 accelerate infill development and new infrastructure, I will employ strategic Public-Private Partnerships for innovative funding and operating mechanisms. For example, there is a light rail line that I want to build that would use abandoned railways to connect Atlantic Station and Amtrak to the MARTA rail line through Armour Station. Obviously there will be many interested stakeholders, including those who could match public funding. Along with those mentioned before, Industries at Armour, the Beltline, and even neighborhood residents would be invited to contribute to the design and pitch in towards the funding of their station. On my side, I would have to pitch a convincing argument as to why each entity would benefit from this improvement, and how their money would be spent.
Navy Line: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1eQHQp5mAK_XCBao0qyUYkSRHg1Q&usp=sharing
STRONG INTEREST IN TRANSPARENCY
Q: What level of openness and transparency should the citizens of Atlanta expect from city government under your leadership?
A: I can’t stress enough how much of a revolution my administration would be in the area of transparency, accountability, ethics, etc. In the first 100 days, I would move all public documents onto a publicly viewable Google Drive, because as a millennial, the only “request for information” I want is a google search. Also, when I search for something, I want the absolute most up-to-date information possible, which is why I want the Documents that come up in search to be the actual documents that our officials are working on. With all public-facing city operations happening on Google Drive, you could get information that is up-to-date to the minute, AND you could post comments and interact with officials in real-time.
Q: Please describe any policies, programs, or ideas you are considering to increase the transparency of city government.
A: Use of Google Drive for all accounting, budgeting, and contract submissions for ultimate transparency. The people are demanding to know what is going on behind the curtain. With Google Drive, anyone can find out whatever they want to know about the government’s current status in real-time, just as easy as searching for something on Google. Use of social media for public communications with elected officials for immediate accountability. This way, anyone can see who asked a question, who responded, what they said, and of course which elected officials are not being responsive. Clearly, this system would allow the people to have an unprecedented level of involvement in city operations and accountability of city officials. This is just as it should be, as city officials are supposed to be representatives of the people with specific skills, not a group of politicians lying and acting in their own interests.