CL last month asked Atlanta City Council candidates to fill out a questionnaire related to the 2013 municipal election. We asked each individual about his or her opinions regarding public safety, the Falcons stadium, the Atlanta Beltline, homelessness, ethics, and other key issues. Many responded and some didn't. We've compiled all the answers we received to give readers a deeper look at the candidates' views. Note: These responses are unedited and directly what respondents sent our way.
Name: Natalyn Mosby Archibong
Occupation: Elected Official, Attorney at Law
Neighborhood: Council District 5
Name: Christian Enterkin
Occupation: Vice President of Acquistions/Landmark Dividend
Hometown: Fayetteville, GA
Name: John Paul Michalik Age: 37 Occupation: Designer Neighborhood: District 5 Hometown: Atlanta, GA Website: www.growatlanta.org
Name: Matt Rinker
Occupation: Property Management / Real Estate
Neighborhood: East Atlanta
Hometown: Fredericksburg, VA
What is the most pressing issue facing your district? If elected (or re-elected), how would you try and address it?
Archibong: Over the past 12 years, the residential and commercial population of District 5 has increased tremendously. As a result of such positive growth, technological advances, and the emergence of criminal enterprises, crime is the most pressing issue. Because of the overwhelming volume of complaints I received when I took office in 2001, I created the position of Public Safety Liaison to communicate directly with constituents, business owners, and neighborhood public safety representatives. I also created the Joint Public Safety Jurisdictional Team consisting of APD – Zone 6, Dekalb Police – South Precinct, and the City of Decatur Police to ensure that the various police forces are communicating with each other about crimes that happening by the same criminals across boundaries. I have continued to work with the Code Enforcement Unit to expedite securing and/or demolishing these hazardous structures. In fact, I was the first councilmember to actively participate in the Graffiti Task Force. Finally, I am currently working with APD to have cameras installed throughout District 5 as a part of Operation Shield. The first neighborhood to receive the cameras is East Atlanta, which has a very high volume of pedestrian traffic.
Enterkin: The most pressing issue facing district 5 is crime. Unfortunately, we recently had the 7th homicide take place along the East Atlanta Corridor this year alone. Also, we have experienced a spike in larcenies, home invasions. This has left many district 5 residents feeling unsafe. Once elected, I plan to work with the Police Chief to implement a 'Beat Walk' Program, where officers walk the neighborhoods – interacting with residents and businesses, personally introducing themselves so we can know our beat officers by name and they know ours.
Michalik: Public safety is the most pressing issue facing District 5 and the entire city. If elected, I would encourage a dialogue between the public, police, court and correctional systems. Communication is the first step towards coming up with realistic solutions to creating a fair criminal justice system.
Rinker: The most pressing issue that has continued to plague East Atlanta, Kirkwood, Reynoldstown, and the rest of District Five is crime. Our police force is doing all they can to help stop crime and apprehend the criminals that have preyed on our neighborhoods. Unfortunately, our streets are no safer for Councilwoman Archibong's twelve years representing us. This year alone we have had several high profile murders, armed robberies, and countless home invasions. It hinders our ability to revitalize our neighborhoods, bring new businesses to our storefronts, or make our children feel safer playing outside.
It starts with having an accountable, effective representative every day – not just in election years. I would create neighborhood committees to monitor street lights because far too many of our lights are burned out in our District. In addition, I will work with APD leadership to develop an incentive plan for officers that live in the precincts and zones they patrol. Having more officers call our neighborhoods their home will help deter crime and bring a more familiar relationship for our officers. Lastly, I will work with each neighborhood association to strengthen their individual patrol groups and help enhance our Community programs.
Most important though, I will be there. I won't leave my duties as your Councilman to my aides. When you need an answer, I will be there. It won't take 12 years for me to start working for you – that will happen on day one!
Mayor Kasim Reed has claimed that the crime rate in Atlanta is the lowest it's been in 50 years. But in many parts of the city, the perception of crime remains up. How would you address public safety in your district? What actions would you take as a councilmember to improve conditions?