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: Howard Shook
Occupation: Atlanta City Councilman
Neighborhood: Ridgedale Park
Hometown: Dayton OH
Name: Abid Haque
Neighborhood: North Buckhead
Name: Bobby Montgomery
Occupation: SEO Marketing Manager/ Real Estate Broker
Neighborhood: Pine Hills
Hometown: Stone Mountain, GA
What is the most pressing issue facing your district? If elected (or re-elected), how would you try and address it?
Shook: Buckhead's greatest challenge is to find a way to fit a fifth quart into a gallon jar. Nodes with very intense zoning classifications (which cannot be repealed) abut beautiful but not invulnerable neighborhoods. Commercial/Retail Buckhead must continue to develop & redevelop in conformance with the smart-growth policies (shared parking, attractive sidewalks, mix of uses, etc) that have been created in detail by our various community & neighborhood organizations. Such policies will also help traffic congestion, a problem for us that can be further mitigated by continuing the re-engineering & beautification of Peachtree Road and doing the same with Piedmont.
Haque: After years of waste and mismanagement in City Hall, District 7 – like the rest of Atlanta – has seen a rise is property taxes and an 81% increase in Water/Sewer rates in the past four years alone. After stopping the financial waste in City Hall, I will work on our 4 P's: building Parks; building Pools; building our Police force; and increasing Pedestrians. I will do this by ensuring that taxpayer dollars are used efficiently and work to secure funding from other sources for these projects in order to avoid more property tax rate increases.
Montgomery: Crime. People do not feel as safe in Buckhead as they once did in the past. I want to start several grassroots campaign that calls on neighbors to actually be neighbors. We must not take this very seriously. Our families and children should be able to be safe in their own homes. I will create avenues for neighbors to share ideas they have, concerns in their neighborhoods, and work closely with local police to insure that no trouble areas go unpatrolled.
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?
Shook: APD does a great job of arresting crooks. But what happens AFTER the arrest? The same crooks seem to beat the cops back to the neighborhood. There are probably 500 people addicted to breaking the law that if we kept locked up would likely drive the crime rate down significantly. There are many reasons why this fails to happen, and closing the revolving door could only happen if the Mayor committed to convening a multi-jurisdictional task force and convinced everyone to leave their egos & turf consciousness at the threshold.
Haque: I would work to build our police force and ensure that Atlanta attracts and retains skilled and motivated police officers. In addition to increasing the police presence in my district, I will work with residents to inform them about how to implement safety habits in their daily routines and work to ensure that each street is well lit and patrolled.
Montgomery: We must tackle the simple things first. That number one task is "Safety." In Buckhead there are areas where many residents do not feel safe due to the lack of lighting under bridges, no sidewalk space in busy communities, or lack of police presence in the area. I would initiate community task forces to identify high-risk areas. Then act accordingly, whether it is replacing a bridge or street light bulb, or having overgrown brushes trimmed for increased visibility. These are things we can do now to help create that sense of safety. Traffic in Buckhead is also a huge safety problem. I would like to add more bike lanes and also work with employers on creating greater incentives for those who carpool, bike, or use low emission vehicles to travel to and from work.
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?
Shook: I was a NO vote.
I agree with Andrew.
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