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: Ivory Lee Young Jr.
Occupation: Architect/Planner/Construction Manager
Neighborhood: Vine City
Hometown: Butler, Alabama
Name: Patricia Crayton
Name: Darrion Fletcher
What is the most pressing issue facing your district? If elected (or re-elected), how would you try and address it?
Young: The City of Atlanta's policy to address vacant and abandoned property is flawed. It can best be described as a citation program in our department of Code Compliance. When a property owner violates a code an inspector issues a citation. When the code violator is brought to court and found guilty they are fined. The fine is paid with no guarantee the code violation has been corrected. Until on a future date another citation for the same violation is issued. We should no longer accept this as a solution when nothing is solved. Many residents live among property owned by property owners who are never accountable for the condition of their property. These properties are uninhabitable, have depreciated in value, and represent a public health and safety hazard. These properties provide free room and board for illegal activity increasing crime in with large numbers of vacant properties. Developing a better response to address vacant and abandoned property throughout Atlanta is a priority.
To create opportunities for legitimate occupancy in these vacant parcels I have introduced an ordinance which have proven successful in other states. If approved by the State of Georgia can represent a positive shift in how we address vacant/abandoned property through "PROPERTY CONSERVATORSHIP" (similar to the In-rem processes through our local courts). It will give local governments across Georgia the power to renovate vacant property while still protecting the rights of owners. This process will allow owners the chance to buy back renovated property and if the owners are fail to rebuy, the City can sell it on the open market. This provides the city a chance to preserve valuable housing stock before we are left with no choice but to tear it down. The sale of these properties also produces program revenue that is recycled back in the program.
Crayton: Public Safety is the most pressing issue facing my district. I would address residential burglary, aggravated assault, robbery, auto theft and vehicle larceny first, because these are the crimes that effect our homes and peace of mind. Increased police presence 24/7, help neighborhoods create watch programs, adopt telicity models using video cameras on streets to prevent, arrest and apprehend criminals , non-profits,and have a satellite office in district open evenings.
Fletcher: 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?
Young: As chairperson of the Public Safety Committee I led the effort to restore funding for The Atlanta Municipal Courts which now enables our court to aggressively prosecute criminals throughout the City of Atlanta. For my hard work, in 2011, I received the "Atlas Award" from city's judges for my dedicated service and support of our Judicial System.
Reducing crime remains a priority for me. Also as chairperson, I led the effort to implement the city's new community oriented policing policy which has produced meaningful returns for safer neighborhoods. The District 3 Office has contributed to the cost of new surveillance cameras in some of our toughest neighborhoods. We have been told that the intelligence provided from the cameras has had a positive impact in reducing crime. I have also been very supportive to provide resources in our budget to increase the number of police officers to the highest numbers in our city's history.
I believe that real public safety does not happen only with increased numbers of police officers and fire fighters. Our neighborhoods are safer when existing/new families occupy vacant/abandoned properties. Code Compliance alone will lead to increased numbers of citations but occupancy in these vacant structures with WORKING FAMILIES is the real solution. Working families have zero tolerance for crime which is how we historically kept our neighborhoods safe.
Crayton: I will work with the department of public safety , seek senior citizens, homeowners, community advocates, etc. input on the most pressing issues regarding their neighborhood safety. Train the community on neighborhood watch and implement the crime prevention project See Something Say Something by increasing visiual aides, psa's, bill boards and signs in the community.
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