Canopy Atlanta asked more than 100 Bankhead and West End community members about the issues more important to them last year and this summer to produce journalism for last year’s West End Issue and our upcoming Bankhead Issue. The contributing reporters on this story are Canopy Atlanta West End Fellows, community members whom Canopy Atlanta paid and trained to learn reporting skills to better serve their communities.
AFTER SCORES OF TOWN HALLS, debates and campaign trail appearances leading up to the runoff election on November 30, we wanted the final word to land with the community members.
Canopy Atlanta Fellows combed through hours of candid conversations and feedback from community residents during our listening work over the last year, where we conducted phone interviews, knocked on doors, gathered in parking lots, leaned on beauty salon booths and porches and spoke with residents in Southwest Atlanta (District 4) and the Bankhead/Grove Park corridor (District 3) in preparation for last year’s West End issue and forthcoming Bankhead issue.
We emailed each candidate vying for the offices of Mayor and City Council Districts 3 and 4 questions directly culled from what residents expressed were their top priorities.
In District 3, for instance, we noticed lingering uneasiness about the impact Microsoft would have on the Bankhead/Grove Park corridor along with public safety concerns. In District 4, in addition to questions around food access and civic improvements, residents expressed deep concerns about preserving the cultural legacy of Southwest Atlanta in the face of gentrification.
The community asked and the candidates answered.
Hear from the candidates:
The two candidates in a November 30 runoff for Atlanta’s mayor are Andre Dickens and Felicia Moore.
Canopy Atlanta: Bankhead and Grove Park residents are “uneasy” about their individual and collective futures with news of Microsoft moving corporate headquarters to Atlanta’s west side. What do you think are the top three priorities, that elected officials must get right, to ensure successful integration of Microsoft and Atlanta communities?
Andre Dickens: We must ensure that 1) there is no displacement from the new development, 2) there are Atlantans receiving jobs and benefits from the development, and 3) there is investment back in the community.
Felicia Moore: As a long time Collier Heights homeowner myself, and as the former City Councilperson for District 9 which includes parts of these impacted neighborhoods, I personally understand their concern. Protecting Atlanta’s neighborhoods is my top priority. I started my public service career as a Neighborhood Association President and an NPU Safety Chair.
While there are a long list of priorities we need to keep an eye on to help build the best Atlanta possible, as our next Mayor these are my top three:
1. We need to make every Atlanta neighborhood safer, starting today, regardless of your income bracket or zip code. And while we absolutely prioritize hitting our staffing targets, we know we cannot “arrest” our way out of our current crime spike and that’s why I have a 5-point plan to tackle the root causes of crime and poverty.
2. Secondly, as a City Councilmember I was proud to pass not one but two transparency and ethics pieces of legislation helping make City Council more ethical. As our next Mayor, I’ll bring that same transparency and ethics to the Mayor’s office. A transparent City Hall will help our residents better navigate the big changes coming to Bankhead and Grove Park.
And 3., as a former kindergarten teacher and as a longtime supporter of STEM programs for Atlanta’s youth, I believe it is vital that Atlanta’s elected officials, including myself as our next Mayor, invest in STEM education and the creation of a non-traditional career path for our kids who are passionate about these issues. I’ll also fight to increase our investment in historically black colleges and university (proud HBCU grad here!), and other academic institutions, which will help us attract more new companies, decrease unemployment, and decrease crime.
CA: Atlanta residents desire improved community engagement with elected officials. They want greater knowledge of legislation impacting their communities and participation in the decision-making process. Residents want to be kept informed but recognize that a “one size fits all” communications strategy doesn’t work for Atlanta’s diverse communities. Please provide specific strategies for how you will improve communications with Atlanta residents.
Andre Dickens: We need to work to meet people where they are. That includes using all forms of media to speak to the public: social media, television, radio, town halls, etc. We need a modern communications strategy for a modern society. But that does not mean we can ignore the benefit of going into the community and speaking directly with individuals. It’s the reason we have the NPU system, and we need to ensure that more individuals can get involved, especially those who are typically kept out of the process.
Felicia Moore: I’m proud to have brought online checkbook spending requirements to City Council and passed not one but two pieces of legislation mandating a more transparent and ethical City Hall. As our next Mayor I’d like to continue that, by bringing legislative transparency to City Council on every bill. I’m proud to have sponsored and passed legislation requiring the City be more transparent about use of eminent domain laws, and I’d like to see that continue across all issues. You may already know that I’m a former Neighborhood Association President and NPU Safety Chair, and I make it a point to attend as many NPU meetings per month as I can. In addition to attending more than 100 in the last 4 years as City Council President, and almost every fire station, I’ve also visited more than 100 area churches, temples, synagogues, and mosques, making sure that I am meeting families and business owners where they already are. My current City Council President’s office prides itself on returning every phone call and every email, and I think that’s just the beginning. I strongly believe in conducting quarterly open townhall meetings, and I personally participated in over 30 townhalls, candidate forums and debates just in the last two months, making sure that I make myself as available as possible.
CA: What are your strategies to reduce the income inequality gap in Atlanta? Do you have specific target goals? If so, how will you measure your progress?
Andre Dickens: Since 2010, Atlanta has carried the unwelcome distinction of having the highest income inequality in the nation. An Atlantan born into poverty only has a 4% chance of making it to the middle class. I grew up in one such community, raised by a single mother. And although the city has attracted a steady stream of corporate headquarters and relocations, provisions have not been made to ensure that all Atlantans are able to participate in the city’s growth and prosperity.
Bridging the gap between marginalized communities and access to basic services and human rights will be a top priority for my administration. Currently, Atlanta faces the largest most persistent gap in income inequality, which has given rise to issues such as lack of affordable housing and healthcare, and ultimately led to an increase in crime and violence.
To tackle the income gap, my administration will invest to provide low-income families with training programs like the TechBridge Technology Career Program that I cofounded. In just two years, the program trained more than 400 people to earn certifications and helped graduates begin internet technology careers with an average annual salary of $56,000. My first post at Georgia Tech was recruiting diverse student populations with the talent and drive to apply a top-notch education to becoming a productive member of society. As Mayor, my administration will support the expansion of these programs and others like them to include nursing, aircraft mechanics, electricians, logistics, and more.
I have also taken up the cause of fighting income inequality in my capacity as an elected leader. In 2016, I authored and passed legislation to gradually increase the city’s minimum wage from $10.10 per hour to $15 per hour over 3 years. Now, every city employee earns at least $15/hr and my goal is to expand that legislation to city contractors by working with state officials on legislation.
Felicia Moore: Atlanta has for too long boasted the single largest income inequality gap in the country, and that’s just plain wrong. I know from seeing it firsthand that low graduation rates and low wages widen this gap. That’s why as our City Councilmember I passed not one but two pieces of legislation raising the minimum wage—ending up at $15 per hour. Thousands of Atlanta families saw an immediate improvement because of it, and that’s just the beginning.
I personally believe we could be doing so much more with the resources we already have by providing our public school parents the wrap around services they need to ensure their children are on the right path and stay on the right path through graduation.
I was lucky enough to hire a formerly incarcerated water boy, Julius Khalid, and his tenure at City Hall taught me a lot about how we can better support Atlanta’s parents—and through them Atlanta’s children. Mr. Khalid now runs a youth empowerment nonprofit that I’m proud to support, and I believe it’s an excellent model in how an early investment in good teachers, teacher pay raises and after school programs can lift up entire communities. As an aside I think it’s also worth mentioning that tackling the gender pay gap in Atlanta would also alleviate a large portion of the income inequality gap. Too many families are led by single moms who make .70 or less on the dollar as their male counterparts. If you want to help Atlanta’s children, even the playing field for Atlanta women.
CA: Through discussions with constituents, what do you think are the top three priorities in the City of Atlanta?
Andre Dickens: The top three issues are public safety, income inequality, and infrastructure.
Felicia Moore: I’ve had the honor of speaking with literally thousands of families the last three years, and they have been very generous with their hopes and dreams for building a better Atlanta.
First and foremost, they want to see a safer Atlanta, and that’s why as our next Mayor I will fight every day to make every Atlanta neighborhood safer, regardless of your zip code or income bracket.
Second, for too long City Hall has been under federal investigation and rightly so. We have suffered scandal after scandal, and it stops now. As our next Mayor I will fight to bring transparency and ethics back to the Mayor’s Office so we can start tackling the real issues facing our neighborhoods.
And finally, our hardworking families and small business owners just want a more affordable and equitable city, and one in which they get the city services they’ve already paid for. That’s what I’ll be working on starting on Day One.
CA: Do you support enforceable community-benefit agreements (CBAs), which are contracts between community organizations and the developer of a proposed project? If so, please provide examples of when community-benefit agreements would be appropriate.
Andre Dickens: Yes. Large-scale developments (housing and/or business) and large-scale events (FIFA World Cup, Super Bowl, etc.)
Felicia Moore: Yes. As a former Neighborhood Association President, a former NPU Safety Chair, and a former Atlanta City Councilmember for District 9—representing neighborhoods from Bankhead to Buckhead and one of the most blighted portions of the city—I’m a big supporter of CBAs. I think they’re appropriate anytime a development includes either private developers or city or state agencies that need community support, even if they don’t use community resources. I’m a big fan of requiring commitments to hire directly from a community, stipulated contributions to economic trust funds, local workforce training guarantees, etc. Some specific examples: The building of Turner Field certainly should have— and did—include a CBA. Moving the Braves stadium out to Cobb County rightfully involved many CBAs. The Microsoft build on the west side is a great example of the need for CBAs. As our next Mayor I know protecting and preserving Atlanta’s historic and vibrant neighborhoods should be our top priority!
City Council District 3
The candidates in a November 30 runoff for Atlanta City Council District 3, which stretches across the city’s northwest side from Center Hill through Bankhead to Atlantic Station, are Byron Amos and Erika Estrada.
Canopy Atlanta: Bankhead and Grove Park residents desire improved community engagement with elected officials. They want greater knowledge of legislation impacting their communities and participation in the decision-making process. Residents want to be kept informed but recognize that a “one size fits all” communications strategy doesn’t work for District 3’s diverse communities. Please provide specific strategies for how you will improve communications with District 3.
Byron Amos: The community communication plan for District 3 will be just as robust and multifaceted as the issues themselves. My strategies would be as follows:
- Quarterly newsletter, these newsletters will be a culmination of our Monthly Newsletters. Our Monthly Newsletters will be used to inform District 3 as well as to seek input into the process. These newsletters will be produced digitally and in hard copy. They will be mailed to residents and distributed via NPU and neighborhood organization.
- Social Media – My office will utilize all commonly used social media platforms. This process will be used to inform and engage our residents. My office will monitor these platforms daily.
- Walk with me Wednesday – Every other Wednesday my office will partner with an NPU, Civic Organization, or individual residents to canvass a neighborhood. We will have our newsletter in hand along with other information.
This is just the foundation of the plan. It will be modified to fit each individual neighborhood keeping in mind the goal of maximum outreach.
Erika Estrada: Community engagement and empowerment is one of my top platform priorities. If elected as District 3’s next councilmember, I have charged myself with implementing strategies that will increase attendance at community/neighborhood meetings and NPU meetings, as well as increase District 3’s voter turnout for every election. In my opinion, the District 3 council seat is “The People’s Seat.” I can’t effectively work for the people without adequate community engagement, and it will be my job to put my best effort forward to allow engagement. I plan to meet our residents and stakeholders where they are to solicit their input and feedback.
A few of the communication strategies I will implement within 90 days of assuming office, should I be elected, include:
- periodic door-to-door canvassing to provide updates and solicit feedback, even after the election
- attendance at neighborhood/community and NPU meetings on a regular basis to provide updates and solicit feedback
- initiating periodic phone calls to residents and stakeholders for feedback
- targeted social media engagement
- District 3 Hotline for residents and stakeholders to submit requests and feedback and
- Resume District 3 Community Update Meetings at least twice per year.
CA: Through discussions with District 3 constituents, what do you consider to be the top three priorities for the District?
Byron Amos: The top three priorities per my constituents in District 3 are public safety, affordable housing/single-family neighborhood protection, and transportation.
Erika Estrada: From my latest discussion with District 3 constituents, the top three priorities I continue to hear are : 1) Public Safety concerns including crime prevention strategies and training and accountability reform; 2) City Services and Infrastructure concerns including everything from waste pickup to speed bumps and traffic calming; and 3) Affordable housing concerns including the need for specific strategies to keep our legacy residents safe and in place while providing additional affordable housing units in our District.
CA: How do you define housing affordability?
Byron Amos: The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines an “affordable dwelling” as one that a household can obtain for 30 percent or less of its income. . . . So, by this definition, a dwelling is considered “affordable” for low-income families if it costs less than 24 percent of the area median income. The “area medium income” is the issue. As long as the “area” that is included in this equation are areas of economic mobility, this definition will be flawed. Simply, the definition of housing affordability should be defined as “an affordable dwelling” that a household can obtain for 25 percent of THEIR income. I also believe that we should have these dwellings throughout our city.
Erika Estrada: I define housing affordability as a household not having to spend the majority of their income on housing related costs including rent, mortgage, property taxes and utilities. I consider housing costs above 30% of one’s income to be a housing cost burden for a household, although affordability is truly a measure that is unique to each household. Any approaches to affordable housing policy and strategy must take into account that affordability is unique to each household.
CA: Bankhead and Grove Park residents are ‘uneasy’ about their individual and collective futures with news of Microsoft moving corporate headquarters to Atlanta’s Westside. What do you think are the top three priorities, that elected officials must get right, to ensure successful integration of Microsoft and Atlanta communities?
Byron Amos: The top three things that we must get right to ensure successful integration of Microsoft and Atlanta communities are as follow:
- True community participation in the process, which will end with a Community Benefits Agreement.
- An agreement with the City and Neighborhood to ensure that our residents are hired at a livable wage and or trained to acquire careers within Microsoft.
- We must make sure that we minimize the impact of Microsoft on the community. These impacts are but are not limited to: traffic, increase property taxes, crime, and environmental.
Erika Estrada: I have spoken with many residents who do feel “uneasy” about their future with Microsoft moving in. It saddens me but at the same time motivates me to work hard for this community and our legacy residents to ensure that they are always in sight, in mind and part of the long-term plan for the Westside. There would be no Westside without the legacy and long-time residents who have built the Westside communities we know today! While many aspects of the long term “plan” are already in place, there is still much elected officials must do to ease and, where possible, eliminate the burden on residents.
The top three priorities to ensure a successful integration should include
- Negotiating STRONG Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) that provides tangible long-term benefits to the current residents and community
- Encourage Microsoft campus leaders to attend community functions and meetings to have meaningful and sincere engagement with the community. (As Councilperson, I would help facilitate this.)
- Continued review and accountability against established CBAs to ensure that all parties are doing what they agreed to do. The work must continue over time.
CA: Bankhead and Grove Park residents have a desire for the city to provide housing for people experiencing homelessness, some of whom are legacy residents. Please share your strategies and policy recommendations to curb the numbers of people becoming homeless and providing support to residents currently unsheltered.
Byron Amos: As we emerge from this pandemic, I see the increase of homelessness through the eviction process and the lack of jobs as being major challenges for our City. As leaders of this City, we must begin to identify a funding stream to help people with housing. This is an ongoing issue that will only be compounded by pending evictions. Utilizing our numerous social service partners in the City we need to start an Eviction Help Center. This Center will connect those that are losing their homes with the needed services to secure housing, but it will also allow the property owners an opportunity to be connected to services that may help them as well.
The strategy to ensure an adequate supply of affordable housing consists of a partnership that leverages real estate owned by the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta Public School System, the Atlanta BeltLine, and the Atlanta Housing Authority in partnership with the private sector. The path to building new housing stock in the City of Atlanta that is affordable for a working family must involve the public sector providing land at no cost (or a reduced cost) in exchange for the private sector taking the capital risk of building new affordable housing. We must also leverage the resources of the Atlanta Housing Authority, along with the City, to retrofit old and dilapidated houses which create code enforcement problems in District 3 and throughout our City.
Finally, the private sector, through initiatives such as the anti-displacement program which uses private contributions to offset rising property taxes is an important part of the long-term solution in our City. We must also actively enforce the City’s ordinances concerning a ten percent requirement for affordable housing in instances where public incentives are being used as a contribution to new projects.
Erika Estrada: I share the desire of the Bankhead and Grove Park residents to provide more housing for the unsheltered in our City! For many years, I have worked with an organization called Initiative for Affordable Housing (IAH) which, as part of its broader mission, provides housing options for unsheltered families while providing wraparound services including childcare, mental health and general healthcare services and other social services to help families get back on their feet and have a greater chance at long-term success and independence.
There are many organizations like IAH, doing this hard work in the community, that need to have stronger financial support from the City of Atlanta. I will advocate for more funding for organizations already doing the work and equipped with facilities and resources. I would also like to see commitment for construction of additional facilities and/or housing units that also provide the critical wraparound services needed for success for the unsheltered.
City Council District 4
The candidates for Atlanta City Council District 4, which includes parts of southwest Atlanta, like Venetian Hills, West End, and Mechanicsville, as well as South Downtown, are Jason Dozier and incumbent Cleta Winslow.
Canopy Atlanta: Neighborhoods like West End and Oakland City inform much of Atlanta’s culture, historically and modern day. What actions will you take to preserve, foster, and promote the positive elements of Southwest Atlanta’s legacy?
Jason Dozier: We protect southwest Atlanta’s legacy by protecting its people. District 4 is home to some of the most economically vulnerable residents in the city. I believe that everyone should be able to live in the community of their choosing, and that Atlanta needs to do more to protect both legacy residents and the next generation of young talent and leaders who can no longer afford to stay in the communities that raised them. But housing insecurity has dramatically shifted the look, feel, and essence of our historic communities, and we must commit to housing policies that protect both homeowners and renters.
My view is that these challenges are largely driven by a citywide housing shortage. Legacy residents are fighting tooth and nail to stay in their communities at the same time that young transplants with well-paying jobs are hoping to live in trendy communities close to the BeltLine. On top of that, many graduates of Morehouse, Spelman, Clark, and Georgia State want to continue to live in the city where they’ve chosen to pursue their education. Everyone’s competing for the same limited housing stock, and housing prices are skyrocketing because of it. But unfortunately, new housing is being built at less than half the pace as our peak in the mid 2000s. In short, we’re not building enough housing supply to meet that demand.
But housing supply isn’t the only challenge to preserving affordable housing. We must expand inclusionary zoning practices requiring developers allocate a portion of new construction to residents with low or moderate incomes. I will also work to incentivize equitable affordable housing options in conjunction with transit-oriented development, which would concentrate mixed-income housing, daily services, schools and jobs near existing transit and this would enable residents to save money, improve their economic opportunities and ultimately improve the local economy.
Cleta Winslow: Prior to me being elected to office, I worked very diligently with other West Enders to become the first city neighborhood as a historic neighborhood under the Atlanta Urban Design Commission. As the District 4 Councilmember, I authored legislation to make Oakland City a historic district in the early 2000’s. West End is the oldest neighborhood in the City of Atlanta being founded in 1835.
Since I have been on City Council, I have also had legislation passed to include other neighborhoods as historic under the City’s Urban Design Commission. They are Adair Park and Castleberry Hill. Castleberry Hill has the landmark historic district. I have regularly hosted Jazz Events that have included such artists as Kebbi Williams, Chaundra Currelli, Teresa Hightower, Gary Harris and Friends and other notable entertainers. Have more Streets Alive Festivals.
I am working with H. J. Russell West End Academy (formerly Brown Middle School) to introduce more art to the students. We will have a master artist come in and teach students how to advance their musical talents. We also plan to introduce students to ballroom dance, African and other ethnic dances. I received a $10,000 grant to be able to start this partnership with APS.
CA: Historically, neighborhoods like West End, Mechanicsville, and South Downtown have been home to many small, family-owned, and minority-owned businesses; but many have closed as a result of gentrification and COVID-19. What strategies and policy recommendations would you propose to protect legacy businesses and cultivates a thriving business ecosystem in these neighborhoods?
Jason Dozier: For too long, economic development has become shorthand for business attraction, which means that millions of public funds are given away to large conglomerates with few ties to our city’s history, culture, institutions, or people. In some cases, these large corporations can outcompete local businesses, forcing local institutions to shutter. Poor accountability around how these tax incentives are distributed too often has a disastrous effect on our communities and on our city.
The City of Atlanta should focus on investing in homegrown businesses and local talent, and hometown businesses development rather than business attraction. Atlanta needs to avoid falling into the trap of competing with peer cities in order to attract major conglomerates with millions (or billions) of dollars in publicly-funded incentives, instead of opting to nurture the economic potential of our existing residents, culture, and institutions. So far in 2021, Invest Atlanta has yielded $1.2 billion in total capital investment, but it has only given seven small business loans during that same time. That’s unacceptable. Low-interest loans or grants could mean the difference between life or death-solvency or bankruptcy-for many of our city’s businesses.
Cleta Winslow: I think that it is very important to partner with Invest Atlanta to ensure that the businesses in historic districts receive special grants and or loans that will continue to keep them in these neighborhoods.
CA: What are your solutions to support the most vulnerable populations in District 4, like children, seniors, and unsheltered people?
Jason Dozier: There are small, but significant steps that the City of Atlanta can take to signal the need to increase wages for our working families. I’m proud that the minimum wage for City of Atlanta workers was increased to $15 in 2017. But I also recognize that the relationship between productivity and wages diverged more than 50 years ago. For this gap to be realigned, the minimum wage should actually be $24.18. At the very least, the City of Atlanta should consider increasing the minimum wage for its employees and set an example for the rest of the country.
For our children, I will invest in youth programs and maintain a positive, collaborative relationship with Atlanta Public Schools. We must reopen and properly resource our recreation centers, providing at-risk youth with vocational, recreational, and learning opportunities that focuses on behavioral intervention and promotes personal growth and social development. I’d also explore paid youth employment opportunities to encourage our next generation to protect and provide stewardship of our District 4 communities. I’d also partner with Atlanta Public Schools, Invest Atlanta, and trade unions to open up apprenticeships and other employment pathways in booming industries so that high school students and graduates have better opportunities to thrive in our city.
For our seniors, I’m committed to protecting the rights of our seniors. I’d like to create a Senior Task Force that will help ensure that the needs of our senior citizens are being met in District 4 and beyond. Some of these initiatives would include working to keep housing and utilities costs affordable for seniors; providing programming in parks and at recreation centers so that residents don’t have to leave the city for senior amenities; and slowing down cars and making our streets more accessible for seniors who use wheelchairs, scooters, and walkers.
And for our unsheltered, I believe in housing-first policies. Providing a sense of permanency allows people experiencing homelessness to build the stability necessary to maximize the success of other support services. I also believe that we should work to end the criminalization of mental health issues, and I would work with the county and with sister jurisdictions to ensure that resources can be better shared across boundaries.
Much of the political fallout with homeless services centers around communities feeling like they’re shouldering too much of a burden. By providing housing and services to the unsheltered in smaller facilities spread across the city, not only would this help deconcentrate homelessness and negative impacts on public health (though making bathrooms and water facilities accessible to the public would address this as well), but it would build communities that are more easily managed and supported by social workers and healthcare professionals.
I’ll close by saying that working families need the proper infrastructure in their neighborhoods to be able to reap the benefits of a post-Covid economic recovery. Specifically, we need to expand public transportation access and improve street safety measures, especially for families that don’t have a car. Nearly 30% of District 4 residents don’t have reliable access to a vehicle, and Atlanta needs to better serve those residents and provide them with opportunities to succeed.
Cleta Winslow: For senior citizens the Atlanta City Council has adopted a tax exemption to ensure that their taxes stay at a reasonable rate. Currently, Fulton County has 9 exemptions for senior citizens and veterans to take advantage of to keep their taxes low.
I am currently working with the Parks and Recreation Department to ensure that the city has more after school programs for the children and I am looking at the city reinstate midnight basketball for our youth up to age 20. This will keep them off the streets and in an organized sport and they will also be offered mentoring.
For the last 20 years I have provided jobs and paid for them out of the District 4 account. Some of these persons got jobs with the City of Atlanta and through other companies that have gainful employment.
CA: West End residents desire improved community engagement with elected officials. They want greater knowledge of proposed legislation and participation in the decision-making process. Residents want to be kept informed but recognize that a “one size fits all” communications strategy doesn’t work for District 4’s diverse communities. Please provide specific strategies for how you will improve communications with District 4.
Jason Dozier: I’ve been committed to holding quarterly town halls and have been a part of my campaign platform from day one, but I recognize that that addresses only one small part of the communications our city has with residents. We must meet people where they are, and I am committed to holding pop-up meetings at MARTA stations, bus stops, and corner stores so that the voices of all parts of our community are being heard.
For our existing meetings, we must improve awareness meetings and gatherings by communicating directly with constituents. This can be done by investing in improved signage of wayfinding, but I’d also look to use direct mail strategies to ensure that information is reaching a broader swath of people. We must also lower the barriers to participation in government by streaming videos of community meetings online and exploring child-care and transportation options for citizens.
Additionally, I want to continue efforts to reform the Neighborhood Planning Unit system, investing in additional staff and resources to standardize and streamline the system across the city. I would also like to incorporate participatory budgeting processes to ensure that the allocation of monies from the annual District 4 discretionary fund are community-driven.
I am fully committed to ensuring that the District 4 office is recognized as a pacesetter for community engagement in the City of Atlanta.
Cleta Winslow: We currently communicate with door-to-door flyers within the district, mass mailings, emails, digital newsletters, social media, phone calls, Instagram, text messages, robo calls, attending the 25 community meetings on a regular basis.
CA: Through discussions with District 4 constituents, what do you consider to be the top three priorities in the district?
Jason Dozier: Atlanta needs to work harder to end displacement and preserve access to quality affordable housing in District 4 and beyond. Thousands of Atlantans are at risk of displacement or eviction. Families who built Atlanta—who built West End and Mozley Park and Oakland City and Mechanicsville—can no longer afford to stay in this city and reap the benefits that come from years of investing in our culture and our history.
Slow streets are safe streets, and I’m fighting to ensure that the city invests in policies that will move Atlantans safely. In the last five years, more than 2,000 Atlantans were injured or killed in collisions with speeding vehicles. These men and women were just living their lives, just trying to cross the street to a bus stop or ride a bike to the corner store or go to school on roadways that are designed for cars and not people. And disproportionately, these victims are black, underserved, and reside in southwest Atlanta communities without sidewalks, crosswalks or street lights.
All Atlantans deserve to live in safer neighborhoods, supported through strategies that broaden our public safety tools and rethinks the role of police in our communities. 157 Atlantans were victims of homicides last year, and many more have been killed this year due to pervasive gun violence. Most of these victims were young, black men and children who were ignored by our city’s leaders and who through no fault of their own feel helpless and hopeless.
Cleta Winslow: To have more affordable housing, safer streets, infrastructure and park improvements.
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