In your opinion, what are the three greatest issues (problems or opportunities) facing Atlanta?
The High School Drop-Out Rate / Juvenile Delinquency / Prospects for achievement for idle youth
Affordability to current residents / Sustainability given the low return on expenditures
Infra-structure – Proper Investment level / Adequacy
(big issue for the City Government is …. Operations involving the Workforce)
Describe briefly your qualifications for holding this office.
Practical / Good thinker / use common sense – not a career politician
Over 35 years of experience consulting on financial forecasts / budgeting / utility pricing issues…… for utility providers and municipalities
What events or experiences caused you to decide to run for this office?
For starters, I am a long-time Atlanta resident having attended Spring Street Elementary School (now the Puppetry Art Theater) and Henry Grady High School before attending Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. I have a connection with Atlanta remembering the Lowe’s theater, the then nearby large round Coke Cola sign, Rich’s, Theater Under the Stars, and when the Regency Hyatt Hotel was the tallest building in the City. The “connection” with the City pulled me in the direction of seeking public office to make my home town better.
Then, when Mayor Reed spent $140,000 at the bottom of recent economic conditions for two vehicles for him to use and when he said Common Cause of GA was the laughing stock of GA for working to allow the Atlanta citizens to vote on constructing a second sports arenas….. I thought….he needs to go…We need another Mayor. I can be a good Mayor for Atlanta.
Also, I see a clear need for the increase of productivity by City employees. We need a change of the workforce’s focus and dedication to deliverables that a new Mayor could bring. I am keen to solve problems when perceiving the need.
The City has a substantial need for new leadership. One does not spend money to improve his status when others have little or no prospects for economic improvement and one does not criticize a well-intentioned effort to allow citizen input. Mayor Reed said Common Cause of GA was the laughing stock of GA….. Not good….not good at all.
We need to replace the current administration with someone that will work to benefit the citizens / community at large. Someone to implement………. “Practical Solutions for the Common Good”
Describe how your think that your candidacy will improve upon what the current officeholder has accomplished in the past.
I consider Mayor Reed’s budgeting for and reopening the youth recreation centers an accomplishment.
I would improve upon that accomplishment by seeking to fund start-up businesses in economically depressed areas of Atlanta to create learning experiences and job opportunities for otherwise disengaged young people. The businesses would involve providing services and production of commodities that could be purchased by local residences and business such as bakeries, home renovation, lawn care and elder care. The “local” self-supporting businesses would benefit the community by engaging and employing individuals while allowing the money exchanged to remain in the local community. The City would initiate the practice of people helping themselves.
On difficult votes, how would you manage collaborating with your colleagues on citywide issues versus representing your own constituents?
Citywide issues may affect all Atlanta citizens. All Atlanta citizens are the constituents of the Mayor.
As I would welcome collaboration with colleagues, I would make a concerted effort to measure the cost and benefit of practical options and pick the one, considering its reasonableness and sustainability, which was consistent with fairness and equitability for the taxpayers.
What is your vision for the city of Atlanta and what can we do to maintain our competitive edge?
My vision for the City is to have a government that is as responsive to the residents and businesses as it is to promoting the City as an attraction. My vision is to allow Atlanta citizens to reside in a secure and comfortable setting with a maximum return on taxes paid while making the resources available to attract non-permanent residents for business-related purposes, education, and pleasure.
Atlanta has numerous positive attributes. The Atlanta region is not defined with terrain, water or state boundaries, it has an enviable climate; offering evidence of all four weather seasons, it has a diverse, yet cohesive and cooperative human element. Atlanta has historical relevancy and geographic wonders. Atlanta, as a whole, is a superb place to live.
One of the obvious deficient ingredients is the optimum operation of the City government. Were the Atlanta City Government to operate at an improved capacity, the residents and businesses would have a more engaging / positive feeling about the City. That resulting positive reaction would transmit to on-lookers and prospective visitors / re-locaters and spawn more appreciation and benefits to the City.
If the City government was more progressive regarding environmental issues, if it would provide a greater return for the taxes is receives, if it would operate smarter and more efficient, the residents and businesses would be happier and the contagious affect would be rewarding to all.
Mayor Reed has done a good job of following thru with initiatives to enhance the City’s attractiveness to outsiders. This could be for an enhanced reputation and bringing in tourist revenue.
We must remember too that people live here, pay taxes and also deserve concentrated attention. Making the effort to serve and benefit the Atlanta citizens should, at a minimum, have an equal amount of focus and dedication as that of Atlanta being an amusement and attraction-center for outsiders. The effort to serve and benefit the citizens and promote the city as an attraction to outsiders is two-fold. We should not continue to focus so heavily on attracting outsiders if we do not improve the deliverables to the permanent residents and businesses.
My vision, if we compare the Mayor’s ability to influence the City’s mission with a piano turner is to not tune only some of the keys of the piano, yet, as would an expert tuner, tune all of the keys. We need to tune not just the notes heard from afar; we need to tune the notes audible to the residents and local businesses as well. This mean fine-tuning the operations to increase efficiencies, eliminate waste and improve the return on tax dollars.
In your opinion, what are the three greatest infrastructure problems facing Atlanta over the next four years?
1. Communication / Information Systems
To the extent the City government does not maintain / equip itself with either acceptable or advanced communication / information systems in the next four years, the functionality of operating systems is diminished. These systems include, among other uses, the emergency call / dispatch centers, traffic control operations, inter and intra governmental communications and coordination and the development, use and retention of data.
The communications / information systems are the platform on which most all City services operate from providing potable water and adequate sewerage removal, to safety-related resources and practices to maintaining automobile and pedestrian right-of-way, to collecting taxes; and the list goes on.
Atlanta should catch up and attempt to keep pace with existing and emerging technologies of data retention and use, artificial intelligence, facial recognition and a host of work-saving and security products that are now available and are expected in the next few years.
2. Water and Sewer Systems
Water and Sewer Systems are vitally important. The City has consented, legally, to upgrading the systems and is in the midst of enormous and expensive projects.
It is critical the upgrades are completed properly and on budget and this infrastructure problem shall receive all due attention and consideration.
The next “greatest infra-structure problem facing Atlanta” is maintenance and improving the conditions of the right-of-ways. These are roadways, bridges, sidewalks, parks, and the emerging Beltline asset.
Having the benefit of relatively mild winters with limited accumulation of snow and ice translates into limited salting / clearing of roadway surfaces. This not only minimizes otherwise expensive treatment, it reduces damaging properties of excessive salt. We have an advantage with our northern neighbors and the quality of our right-of-ways should be reflected therein.
In recent years Atlanta has made certain attempts to improve the size, appearance and functional use of sidewalk and curbs at intersections and, in some areas, has narrowed streets for traffic calming purposes.
As Mayor, I would advise against narrowing streets for aesthetic value and traffic claming as a narrow street endangers bicyclists. Also, I would reduce or halt future cosmetic streetscape projects until essential or more important right-of-way projects were completed.
I would propose there be a four-year moratorium on changing any street names.
I would work to have all decorative water fountains in all parks function. We have fountains in Atlanta that have not operated in decades. That is a testament to the level of appreciation to the importance to aesthetics. The fountains should be functioning. They make a statement to the character of the City.
The Beltline concept is wonderful. We need to stay the course with it and I would champion a transportation component to enrich the lives of citizens.
How would you pay for these improvements?
I understand the current estimate for infra-structure investment is close to $ 1,000,000,000.
There is an extensive list of Capital Improvement Projects and Short-Term Work Projects (CIP/STWP).
I have learned through my work in assisting municipal systems with financial forecasts, budgeting, the setting of service fees and preparing feasibility certificates for repaying of bonds, that capital projects intrinsically have different attributes of priorities.
Some projects are required for citizen safety, some for delivering essential services, some are required by law and specific regulations, some are “we need that” projects, some are “it would be nice” projects and some are “we said we would” projects.
The cost of projects can vary due to timing and sequence. For example, because of the synergy of work activities, Project # 2 may cost 30% less if completed during the time Project # 1 is underway.
It is imperative a much-considered project hierarchy be established using all practical and prudent measures.
All payments for current operations and for capital improvements are derived either through donations, taxes, user fees, borrowed funds or appropriations from other governmental sources.
It has been said that by the portion a penny is saved, so is a penny earned. Since any expenses reduced, without compromising deliverables, equates to additional revenue, I would start the process of paying for improvements beyond those provided for in the current budget by reducing expenses when and where appropriate.
The City can go to the bond market and acquire funds for specific projects as warranted.
Additional funds may be secured from other sources. In all cases, funding would be evaluated and determined in accordance with reasonable and prudent measures.
Finally, given the prevailing limited employment opportunities for many Atlanta citizens, I would make a concerted effort to establish work units to participate in project construction. There is little or no reason to not employ an idle person that lives in Atlanta to provide manual labor or services commensurate with his skills when a City capital project would provide such opportunity.