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: Torriel "Torry" Lewis
Occupation: Professor of Political Science and Small Business Owner
Neighborhood: West End
Name: Cleta Winslow
What is the most pressing issue facing your district? If elected (or re-elected), how would you try and address it?
Innovative Anti-Crime Techniques
We need to continue to think safety in our communities. Though crime has decreased around Atlanta, the crime in District 4 is some of the highest in the city. Our office, when elected, will be sure to hold the police accountable, but we have also developed some innovative programs. Our opponent continually says that crime is not an issue in our district, but the news says otherwise. After our students are being shot in the streets, we simply ask "how many Georgia Tech and Georgia State students have been murdered compared to AUC students?" A realtor emailed me in July and said, "I'm happy to meet up (in a safer part of town, until you change things)." Crime statistics have also shown that 8 of the last 12 murders in the city were in District 4. But our opponent thinks that it is fluff.
The city of Atlanta has lowered crime around the city...just not on the South West side of the city. Our councilwoman has not fought for easily accessible resources like surveillance cameras. In some downtown areas, in Midtown, and Buckhead, where crime was already lower than District 4, cameras have been installed. These high definition cameras have a distinctive blue light that tells, would be criminals, that they are being watched.
Our councilwoman who is the Vice-Chair of the Public Safety Committee has not fought to have our areas connected to the police surveillance system. The only area in the district with surveillance is in the Castleberry Hill Neighborhood, which is currently served by Kwanza Hall! We need these cameras to lower crime and protect our students. I feel that we should also make a system that links certain cameras to the web and public television so that the neighborhood can help patrol the community.
District 4 Blue (D4Blue) will be established within the first year of us taking office. D4Blue will be a neighborhood watch program that watches over the entire district. The program will use state-of-the-art equipment and have access to resources to help assist our communities and the Atlanta Police Department to reduce crime. Unlike the Trayvon Martin Case in Florida, our volunteers WILL NOT profile and chase after our youth. They will just add the eyes, ears, and presence that we so desperately need. We will be sure that our volunteers go through the best training available.
We have dozens of neighbors that are willing to donate their time to proactively patrol and support our district. These volunteers will not be armed, but they will have direct access to the police and will add more eyes to protect our property and our loved ones. It will be comforting to see flashing lights down your street at 3 a.m. to thwart potential criminals. Businesses can feel safe again and not have to worry about if someone is watching over their property.
District 4 is prime real estate in the city as it is about 1.5 miles away from downtown. This area has one of the largest pockets of foreclosed homes, low property values, and blight in the city. It's hard to attract new businesses if other businesses are failing, if there is little discretionary income, or if there is a perception that crime poses a serious threat to their establishment.
While I speak to business owners across the district and the city, my opponent has failed to do anything substantial to spur economic and community development. Atlanta has one of the highest unemployment rates among cities with equal or greater population. We need new vibrant businesses in our district and we need to take care of the businesses that have served us for so long. We have around 12,000 college students that spend their money all over the city, but not in their own neighborhood. Attracting new businesses does the following:
• Makes it easier for people to spend money in their own communities which will generate revenue for our district
• Will bring JOBS to the area which will attract more businesses and give people a chance to work and earn a decent wage in the community that they live in
Sarcasm check on Aisle 13.
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