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Creative Loafing City Council questionnaire – Council District 11


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: Keisha Lance Bottoms

Age: 43 Occupation: Attorney Neighborhood: Cascade Hometown: Atlanta Website:

Name: Ron Shakir

What is the most pressing issue facing your district? If elected (or re-elected), how would you try and address it?

Bottoms: While reducing crime and improving code enforcement are continuing priorities, the need for economic development in District 11 is paramount. I have actively pursued and encouraged residential and commercial developers to consider projects in the community. I will continue this effort, as well as continue working with Invest Atlanta, to bring improved economic opportunities into the District.

Shakir: Did not respond.

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?

Bottoms: I have supported funding in our budget to increase our police force to nearly 2000 officers and will continue to support initiatives that will strengthen the Atlanta Police Department. I also actively work with our Zone 4 Police Commander and his staff to make sure that there is mutual communication in the District with regards to crime. On a larger scale, this has included hosting a Town Hall meeting focused on crime. On a smaller scale, I have been a liaison with various neighborhoods and our Zone 4 Commander, conveying crime alerts and observations from different communities. This has helped APD develop leads and observe patterns of criminal activity that they otherwise may not have been aware of.

Shakir: Did not respond.

If you're an incumbent and you voted for the proposed Falcons stadium, why did you do so? If you're a challenger, how would you have voted and why?

Bottoms: I voted to support the proposed Falcons stadium because of the tremendous economic benefit to the city of Atlanta of having a National Football League team downtown.

Last year, metro Atlanta voters rejected the T-SPLOST, which would have raised billions of dollars in funding for large-scale transportation projects throughout the region and smaller projects inside the city limits. Mobility remains an issue in Atlanta. What ideas do you have for improving transportation?

Bottoms: I would like for the City to continue to pursue federal grants that will assist with the expansion of light rail. Also, I would like to make funding the expansion and connection of sidewalks in all major corridors a budgetary priority.

Shakir: Did not respond.

Homelessness in Atlanta remains a pressing problem. However, the city's charter limits what it can do to fight the issue. What realistic options does the city have when it comes to tackling homelessness?

Bottoms: It is important that the City continue to work with community partners to come up with a holistic approach to addressing the issue of homelessness.

Shakir: Did not respond.

Councilmembers are policymakers; they're technically not supposed to serve as liaisons between constituents and city departments (for example, failure to pick-up trash or broken traffic lights). Yet they often fall into that role. How would you handle your job once the 311 call center, which is designed to address residents' and businesses' complaints, comes online?

Bottoms: There is one staff member in my office who primarily deals with constituent issues related to city services. I have found that many of my constituents like being able to have a personal point person to address their issues. I doubt that the 311 call center will eliminate this desire.

Shakir: Did not respond.

What can you bring to the Atlanta City Council that it currently lacks?

Bottoms: I will continue to bring my professional experience, as well as my experience as a policy maker to the Atlanta City Council.

Shakir: Did not respond.

What is a city issue in Atlanta that, in your opinion, very few people have paid attention to? Could you — and would you — address it?

Bottoms: An issue that deserves more attention in the city is that of aesthetics and cleanliness. I am attempting to partially address this issue by having introduced legislation that will regulate the size and number of signs cluttering windows in commercial districts.

Shakir: Did not respond.

Southeast Atlanta residents recently raised concerns about a big-box retail center along the Atlanta Beltline. As the Beltline continues along in its development, what steps would you take to make sure its vision — specifically, the one residents laid out in planning meetings — is fulfilled?

Bottoms: Continuous communication between members of Council, the Planning Staff, Beltline personnel, and the respective communities, is important to ensure that the vision of the Beltline is fulfilled. I introduced legislation to require the Planning Department to issue a list by Council District of building permits that have been applied for. This helps communities track potential projects in their respective areas, and gives residents an opportunity to weigh in on these developments .

Shakir: Did not respond.

What's your favorite part of the district you want to represent? What's your least favorite part that you hope to change?

Bottoms: I enjoy representing every part of my district. However, there are various opportunities for improvement throughout the community. In some areas, this includes increased green space, while in other others, it entails economic development and aesthetic enhancement.

Shakir: Did not respond.

How would you feel about Atlanta's current ethics and transparency practices? What, if anything, would you do to improve the current rules? If nothing, why?

Bottoms: The City of Atlanta has the toughest ethics and transparency practices in the State. Education of our employees and elected officials regarding these rules will help ensure that they achieve their desired effect.

Shakir: Did not respond.

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