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Creative Loafing City Council questionnaire – Council President 

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: Ceasar C. Mitchell

Age: 44

Occupation: Corporate Attorney

Neighborhood: Historic West End Atlanta

Hometown: Atlanta

Website: www.ceasarforouratlanta.com

Name: Rachele Fruit

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

Mitchell: As City Council President I represent all of Atlanta. As such, I would contend our most pressing issues are continuing to sustain our upward economic trajectory and further building upon our much-needed infrastructure. We also must continue investing in infrastructure and transportation projects that enhance our quality of life. Last, it is vitally important our collective efforts as a city benefit all citizens. We all share in the responsibility; therefore, we should all share in the reward of making our city great.

Fruit: 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?

Mitchell: This is an issue I take personally since my father was an Atlanta police officer. Public safety is foundational if we are going to have a city that is clean, green, safe, and thriving. People have to believe they are safe, and their property is protected. During the last four years, the city has hired 800 police officers. We now have a force of 2,000. Crime is at its lowest in nearly four decades. We are making some measurable progress. We need to continue investing in public safety, utilizing successful and measurable strategies, and empowering communities to be allies in curbing illegal activity. However, I still believe prevention is the best way to mitigate criminal behavior. Mentoring, accessibility to safe community centers, emphasizing personal responsibility for young men and women, increasing job and educational opportunities, and streamlining social service delivery are sound examples of positively addressing crime in Atlanta.

Fruit: 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?

Mitchell: As City Council President I do not cast a vote on policy, but I do support construction of the new Falcons stadium. Upon its completion, we will have a world-class facility that will generate new opportunities leading to additional revenue. It is a sound investment that will spur economic growth in an area that has historically been investment poor. I intend to personally involve myself in the process to ensure any investment is equitable, fair, sustainable, and representative of the needs being voiced by community leaders. Again, we all share the responsibility; therefore we should all enjoy the benefit.

Fruit: Did not respond.

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?

Mitchell: I am still disappointed and shocked by the outcome of last year's referendum. We missed an excellent chance to strengthen our regional economy through the construction of roads, tracks, walking paths, and most important, the creation of thousands of good paying jobs. One year later, we are still complaining about transportation with zero money in our pockets. As a city, we have to reassess how we intend to invest in local transportation projects, either with federal funding, public/private partnerships, issuing a fee earmarked specifically for transportation, or some other revenue generator to ease congestion. Hopefully, we can identify regional partners who want to build a viable regional transportation system that corporations and families clamor for. If not, Atlanta will continue to find innovative and cost-effective ways to offer its citizens first-class transportation services. The Beltline and the Atlanta Streetcar are perfect examples of meeting customer demand.

Fruit: 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?

Mitchell: Homelessness is a complex phenomenon that has national implications. When I drive through the city, it is difficult to see men, women, and children camping out in parks, churches, and storefronts. We have to figure out what is causing their homelessness. If they need employment, then let's see if we can get them a job, if they have chemical addictions or mental illness, let's get them the proper treatment, if they are working, but cannot afford housing, let's see if there is a subsidy that will allow them to get into an apartment or house. The city has to work with other stakeholders to address the root causes and collectively invest in proven strategies to end the cycle of poverty and homelessness. This is not an aspersion to what we are doing already, but obviously we are not having the impact we envisioned. More can be done and should be done.

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