Keisha Sean Waites

Occupation: Emergency crisis manager and small business owner

Keisha Waites.

Previous experience holding elected offices: Elected state representative in House District 60 to the Georgia House of Representatives for three terms in 2012.

Other community service experience: Member, National Conference of State Legislatures (CSG); Member, Young Elected Officials; Member, Women in Government; Henry Toll Fellow, Council of State Governments; Women in Government (WIG).

Both you and the other candidate were in a runoff race for this office less than five months ago.  Why should the voters make a change and put you in the office at this time?

Mr. Pitts only interest in returning to public life is enrich himself at the expense of Fulton taxpayers.  Mr. Pitts’ company RLP Corp. received a no-bid contract to provide insurance services while he was a member of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners; this information was never reported to the Georgia Ethics Commission.  This practice is not only unethical, but also illegal.

Upon losing the 2014 primary for chair, Mr. Pitts sued Fulton County, costing the taxpayers thousands of dollars. For these reasons, it is clear Mr. Pitts does not have the voter’s or Fulton County’s best interest at heart.

What is the biggest issue facing the district and how will you address it?

Transparency!  Under the direction of Chairman Robb Pitts, the fact that Fulton County has delayed sending out property tax bills until after the May 22 election is both disingenuous and insulting.  In a few weeks, most Fulton County homeowners will experience a 50 percent increase their property tax bills.  One of the most significant challenges will be finding long-term solutions to provide homeowners and small business owners with property tax relief where many families saw huge spikes in their tax bills.  Like many small business owners and homeowners, I intimately understand firsthand the challenges we are facing in Fulton County.

What should Fulton County do next on mass transit policy now that the General Assembly has passed legislation authorizing a new regional system?

I am proposing high speed rail, which will help solve transportation, environmental issues and employment challenges.  This legislation is the first step in a project that could create short and long term jobs, develop an efficient way for Georgians to travel, and remove thousands of vehicles from the state’s busiest roadways. As a member of the legislature and transportation committee, I formerly introduced legislation to accomplish the monumental task.

Higher speed rail service would put Macon and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport 35 minutes from each other.  The service would also be a partial solution to pollution, transportation, and unemployment.

What more, if anything, should the county and the state do to ensure that Fulton’s property tax appraisal and assessment system is working properly?

In my neighborhood, huge spikes in property taxes have forced many families into foreclosure and small business owners to relocate or shut the doors.  I look forward to partnering with the state legislature and my former colleagues to craft a permanent solution to providing property tax relief so that taxpayers will not have to deal with “sticker shock” when they receive their tax bills.  I further pledge to hold town hall meetings countywide to keep taxpayers fully engaged in the process so they will not have to turn to the local news for information and updates on this critical issue.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.