District 3 Candidate Spotlight by #VOTELOCAL: Erika Estrada

Erika Estrada

On Tuesday, March 19, 2019, residents in Atlanta’s City Council District 3 will vote for their new representative in a Special Election to fill the remainder of the term left vacant by the death of Ivory Lee Young, Jr. #VOTELOCAL is a campaign from the Center for Civic Innovation designed to engage the local Atlanta community in the upcoming elections. For the special election, they asked each of the candidates about their qualifications to govern and posted the responses of those who answered.

ERIKA ESTRADA

QUALIFIED TO GOVERN

Q: What do you think is the most important role of the City Council?
A: The most important role of the City Council is to listen to their constituents and the City’s stakeholders and to take action, based on that feedback. The actions taken should be in the best interest of the City and its residents and stakeholders. The power in democracy is that the government is by and for the people. Listening to and being in touch with constituents and taking action on their behalf should always be top priority.
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’m most proud of is being a speaker for the Distinguished Alumni Lecture Series last year at my beloved undergraduate alma mater, Albany State University (ASU). I’m most proud of this accomplishment because ASU did so much for me by helping me discover my interests in servant leadership, community engagement and business, back when I was a student. After all ASU did for me, it was quite an honor to come back and be recognized! This accomplishment also showcases the strong support system and relationships I have built professionally and academically. Building and maintaining strong relationships are an important part of my personal and professional life and I look forward to using those skills to move District 3 and the City of Atlanta forward, if elected.
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 council member. Include your role in the activity and the year(s) in which you were involved.
A: 3 activities I have participated in that will make me a stronger City Council member include:

  • Nonprofit Board of Director, Treasurer and Accountant (2008-present) – I have used my financial management skills with several nonprofit organizations. This includes day-to-day financial management, financial oversight and budget management.
  • Community Project Leader at Various Employers (2008-present) – I have coordinated community engagement projects including community tax preparation, high school student mentorship and consulting projects with nonprofit and community organizations in the City of Atlanta and for-profit partners. Private, public and community partnerships drive change!
  • Small Business Owner & Business Mentor (2016-present) – I started my Accounting firm 3 years ago and have worked with dozens of small businesses in Atlanta. Small businesses are the backbone of our State and City’s economy. I know firsthand how rewarding and challenging it can be for small businesses.

CULTURE FIT

Q: What does it mean to be an Atlantan/ATLien in 140 characters or less?
A: To be an Atlantan/ATLien is to be authentic, resilient, welcoming and proud!
Q: What is a new slogan for our city that could unite Atlantans and highlight who we are as a people?
A: #AnAtlantaForAll

DEMONSTRATES PEOPLE-CENTERED APPROACHES

Q: There are several major development projects happening or planned in and around District 3. What is the role of community input in public- and private-sector development and when should it take place?
A: Community input in the impacted area should be part of every major public and private-sector development. Members of the community deserve to be provided accurate and timely information on proposals and development plans and ample time to provide their feedback and suggestions on the proposed plans. The community engagement process should begin early and preferably during the exploratory phases of a project or proposal, where possible. But, at a minimum, no major development projects should move to implementation without giving the community sufficient time to review the accurate proposal and have an opportunity to provide feedback. It is also critical that when the community is given time and opportunity to provide feedback, it is always handled in a respectful and sincere manner that shows that the input and feedback is actively considered and evaluated. There can’t always be consensus, but there can always be respect and consideration given to community residents and stakeholders.
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: The NPU system is an important and much-needed resource for our City’s residents and government. The current system has issues that need to be addressed to increase its effectiveness, but I believe it has a good foundation and it’s a worthy initiative to continue to strengthen. As a member of City Council, I would first make sure that the NPU’s know about projects, proposals and developments with ample enough time for review, comment and vote. NPU’s should not be finding out about deals and proposals after they are already signed or committed to. Expectations around clear communication and timelines that should be followed would be one great step in the right direction.

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 a first-time candidate for public office, I am currently experiencing these situations. I am collaborating with various people and organizations on a daily basis, and, sometimes we don’t always have the same views about how things should be done. But, through collaboration, I’m learning daily that in many cases we have the same vision and desire for a stronger, healthier District 3. And, that’s what is most important.
Q: Think of one major Atlanta issue impacting the district you seek to serve and that needs to be tackled 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: Preventing displacement of legacy residents due to housing affordability issues is undoubtedly an issue in District 3 that will require a collaborative approach consisting of public, private, and community partnerships. Building authentic and impactful relationships is a major part of my personal and leadership brand. I would seek to build partnerships by learning about the successful approaches other cities, regions and organizations are currently taking to tackle this critical issue. I would also like to assemble a task force or committee group of District 3 residents and stakeholders to work on recommendations in this area and advocate for providing them resources to help develop and implement solutions.

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 have said many times during my campaign that if elected, I want to move all of District 3 and the City of Atlanta forward, ethically and responsibly. Given how important ethics and responsible behavior is to me personally and professionally, the citizens of Atlanta can certainly expect open and transparent behavior and communication from me in many forms. No topic or conversation pertaining to our City and my role as a member of City Council will be off the table with me.
Q: Please describe any policies, programs, or ideas you are considering to increase the transparency of city government, particularly in your office.
A: I have several ideas to increase transparency in my office, if I am elected, that I’m currently researching and vetting. One such idea is to use quantitative and qualitative metrics to track the progress of open civic and municipal projects and initiatives happening in District 3, and to share that detail publicly. Citizens deserve to see unbiased accounts of where we stand on promised projects either in real-time or on a consistent, periodic basis.
Source: VoteAtl.org

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