Buckhead residents got to hear from candidates for city council seats that would represent the area at the forum Sept. 27 that focused on transportation, public safety and development.
The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods invited candidates for District 8, president, post 1 at-large and post 2 at-large. The council set a requirement that candidates must have raised $5,000 in campaign contributions, and District 7 candidate Rebecca King did not, so neither she nor her opponent, incumbent Howard Shook, participated in the forum.
The candidates were asked questions submitted by Buckhead Council member neighborhoods. The candidates were provided this list of questions prior to the forum.
On public safety:
The moderator, Loretta Lepore, a principal at Lepore & Associates, asked what District 8 candidates would do about neighborhood associations having to hire off-duty police officers to patrol the neighborhood.
Matzigkeit pointed to his experience in the financial sector, giving him an understanding of compensation and benefits. The right compensation could help APD retain officers and not lose them to other police departments, he said.
“We need to have the right number of officers, in the right place with the right tools,” Matzigkeit said.
Matzigkeit also said he would build on the security camera and license plate reader program built by current District 8 Councilmember Yolanda Adrean, who is not seeking re-election.
He would also make sure police officers are being effectively placed in zones where they are needed.
Tillman also said she would take a look at where officers are zone to ensure it is effective.
She also said more police officers need to be on foot, patrolling the streets, and that adequate patrolling in every neighborhood is needing.
“We need a police officer in my neighborhood patrolling that is not paid by our neighborhood association, and we need that for everyone,” Tillman said.
On transportation issues:
Lepore asked the candidates what they would do about traffic congestion in Buckhead.
Tillman said she would consider not allowing thru traffic through neighborhoods during peak traffic times, saying “we cannot handle the load of cars that are coming into the area.”
Matzigkeit, an executive at a Buckhead technology company, Wahoo Fitness, said he use technology to help alleviate some traffic, including traffic lights that are well-timed and apps that can help people find parking. He also would seek to stop construction from closing lanes during peak times.
On development and the tree canopy:
The moderator asked the candidates what they would do about developers building houses larger than other homes in neighborhoods and how they would address tree canopy loss.
Tillman said more zoning regulations need to be put in the place to stop developers from building such dramatically sized houses, saying “it’s changing the character of our neighborhood.”
“We also need to curtail or completely eliminate clear-cutting,” Tillman said. “It’s just a lot cheaper for [developers] to remove everything. It’s about money for them, and it needs to be about trees for us.”
Matzigkeit said as Atlanta continues to develop, “we need to a vision for that growth.” He said that his is optimistic about recent work done by the Department of City Planning, and advocating for zoning and permitting processes that are robust and protect the tree canopy and neighborhoods from development.
“I think we really need strong protections for our neighborhoods and for our tree canopy. We have to grow smart. We need to be sure that we have the zoning, permitting and incentives that go along with that plan so that we are protecting trees and our neighborhoods,” he said.