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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Vine City activist to run against Councilman Ivory Young for the second time

It cant be a Fletcher plan. It has to be a people plan
  • Darrion Fletcher
  • 'It can't be a 'Fletcher' plan. It has to be a 'people' plan'
Atlanta City Councilman Ivory Young, who's represented Vine City, English Avenue, and other west Atlanta neighborhoods since 2002, is facing a familiar opponent this November: the Rev. Darrion Fletcher.

In 2009, Fletcher fell short against the incumbent Young. The 15-year Vine City resident, who oversees a local outreach organization called Walking Through the Vine Ministries, says it's time for someone to "take a stand" and confront the district's problems.

"We'll beat Ivory because he's been so disconnected to his district," Fletcher tells CL. "The voices of the people are still not heard."

Fletcher claims Young has failed to listen to his constituents' needs when it comes to Mims Park and the recent Atlanta Falcons stadium negotiations.

Fletcher disagreed with Young's decision to support Mims Park, Rodney Mims Cook Jr.'s $55 million plan to transform 16 acres of vacant, city-owned space into greenspace along Joseph E. Boone Boulevard. In 2012, he said that the proposal was "a slap in the face for blacks as well as whites" given how little the city had involved the surrounding neighborhoods and their residents. Instead of Young lending his support, Fletcher thinks that the councilman could have devoted his resources toward keeping more schools open.

Last month, Young joined other councilmembers and voted to approve $200 million in public funding to help pay for a new Falcons stadium. Fletcher says that more community leaders should have sat at the negotiating table. "We are going to be the ones affected by it one way or the other," he says. "At the end of the day, Mr. Blank doesn't have to come to Vine City if he doesn't want to. The people [making decisions] don't even have to put up with the noise."

The community activist's qualifications include involvement as the Neighborhood Planning Unit-L's Public Safety Chair and with the Bethune Elementary School Council. It's these things, along with his outreach ministry, that he says allow him to keep his "ear to the ground" in understanding the district's interests.

"Councilman Young is not listening to the people," Fletcher says. "The recommendation that comes from the community is not listened to downtown. I'm at the [NPU-L] meetings so I know for a fact that the information we send downtown has been overlooked many times."

If elected, Fletcher says he would ask residents what issues they care about and would build his agenda around their concerns. He plans on surrounding himself with people who can find solutions to the economic development and environmental problems directly affecting the Vine City community.

"For me to put things into place because I think it's a good idea might not suit the people," he says. "You've got to listen to the people, that's the first thing you've got to do as a leader. Everybody has to work together, it can't be a 'Fletcher' plan. It has to be a 'people' plan, a district plan."

Fletcher has yet to file his campaign finance disclosures, which were due on April 5. According to Young's most recent filings, the incumbent is sitting on $14,450. That total came from seven contributors: Steve and Evanne Brock of Brock Built, a mixed-income housing developer; Charles Ackerman, one of Atlanta's commercial real-estate titans; Emily Cook, a photographer and wife of Rodney Mims Cook Jr.; H.J. Russell Jr., the CEO of well-connected firm H.J. Russell Construction; a New York company called "Beter Investment LLC;" and JayCee Development, which CL readers might remember as the Maryland-based owners of a large number of parking lots near the Georgia Dome.

Patricia Harris-Crayton, who tells CL she lives near Washington Park, says she's "considering" running for the seat.

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