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.
QUALIFIED TO GOVERN
Q: What do you think is the most important role of the City Council?
A: To provide leadership and collective oversight to address government operations, policy and resolution direction, and overall tone of governance for the city of Atlanta. I believe there should be a high level of accountability, community engagement, and integrity to carry out this mission.
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: As a practitioner, I have been able to serve in local government at the highest level of service delivery, working in six municipalities in three states. This professional experience has enabled me to understand the issues with solving complex problems in government, while defining human and capital resources to serve constituents and stakeholders.I am extremely proud of my collective body of work that has had an impact on several city governments.
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: In addition to my experience as a local government leader and other current roles, the following are three leadership roles that speak to my leadership acumen to execute direction, and collaborate with people to achieve goals.
- Founder, Atlanta Speaks Initiative (8.5 Years) – Career Exposure and Civic Literacy Initiative that has recruited over 1,100 speakers impacting +20,000 students at the elementary, middle, and high school level.
- Atlanta Public School, CTAE Board Member and Immediate Past Chairman (9 Years) – Collaborate with other industry leaders to provide work based learning opportunities and other students along career pathways enhancing workforce development.
- Atlanta Board of Education Equity Taskforce Appointee (1 Year) – Tasked with developing an equity policy for the APS Board.
Q: What does it mean to be an Atlantan/ATLien in 140 characters or less?
A: A responsibility to lead in all areas of community building, culture, and influence.
Q: What is a new slogan for our city that could unite Atlantans and highlight who we are as a people?
A: Disrupting the Tale of 3 Cities
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 engagement should not be a linear, check-box of tasks, it should be a cyclical process of building relationships, input, and hopefully trust at the beginning, middle, and end of a project. Community input should guide the work of any public project, or project that is slated to impact land-use in an adverse or transformative way.
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 would work to enhance our Neighborhood Associations, and Homeowners Associations that feed into our NPU Process. We must do a better job of enhance the human infrastructure of our neighborhoods through proactive communication, training, and resources for sustaining ideas and dialogue. I would also work more proactively with presenters from both development, and the city, to enhance the month-to-month accountability for my office.
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: This would happen consistently in my daily rhythm working in local government for many years. In one particular project, where I was working as the project manager for an international market coming into a community, it involved convening many different stakeholders – including the development community. With so many different opinions on the direction of the project, through communication and working to develop shared goals, I was able to lead through compromise, clear communication, and established milestones.
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: Equity in housing is the largest issue. We are dealing with a housing epidemic that has not addressed the short, mid, and long term needs of citizens at all income levels. It is necessary to work with development partners that not only seek to benefit from the housing market, but also colleagues and organizations that do not depend solely on market indicators of success. My goal is to establish a fund that raises and leans into addressing housing equity as a city councilman.
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 will lead with integrity and transparency through action, not positioning. My office as a city councilman will be forward-facing and transparent, while being extremely proactive and transformative regarding engagement. In my first 100 days, I commit to a dynamic community engagement effort that will establish an unprecedented tone – setting an expectation for the 16 neighborhoods I will serve.
Q: Please describe any policies, programs, or ideas you are considering to increase the transparency of city government, particularly in your office.
A: Open calendars, council vote briefings, and a weekly communication meeting are all items that I would like to institute immediately. Additionally, I will formally establish programming through my office that speaks to civic literacy and a connection between my constituents of all ages. It’s something that I have experience in creating, and have done informally at Atlanta City Hall.