Russell Hopson

Candidate for Atlanta City Council District 1

Website: russellfordistrict1.com

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What immediate actions can city council take to aid in curbing the violent crime occurring in Atlanta?

Reopening Workforce development and apprenticeship programs for citizens wanting to develop a trade, increasing the salaries of municipal workers and mandating a $15/hr minimum wage citywide. Allowing paid overtime opportunities for police officers to provide security for highly trafficked public corridors and gathering places.

Will you make affordable housing a priority of your term on the council, and what actions need to be taken to insure meeting the goal of 20,000 affordable homes by 2026?

I think it is critical to make affordable housing a top priority for the city moving forward. First, we must recalculate the meaning of AMI for metro Atlanta. It can no longer include Roswell and Sandy Springs in the tabulation. In addition the definition, and subsequent stigmas, surrounding affordable housing need to change. Builders should be compelled to develop buildings with at least half of the units priced at 50% AMI OR a third of the units priced at 30% AMI. If not, they should have to pay a multiplied tax rate. We must make it more cost effective for a builder to provide affordable housing than to charge exorbitant rates. Additionally Atlanta must partner with conscientious developers to place housing on at least half of the nearly 800 acres of undeveloped land in the city owned by the city. In these cases ALL of the homes should be priced at 50% or less of the newly calculated AMI.

Will transit on the Atlanta BeltLine corridor be a top priority and how will you work to fast-track it?

Transit along the Beltline corridor is important and will be prioritized but not at a level more significant than MARTA (rail and bus) expansion, upgrades to bike lanes and a marked improvement in pedestrian infrastructure in the city. The only way to achieve any of these measures at this point is to solicit targeted Federal funding specifically for these projects and, potentially, approve another TSPLOST whose funds are earmarked for specific projects before a public vote and given strict oversight by a citizen review committee.

What can the council do to prioritize combating climate change?

Streamlining our waste management procedures, transitioning to a public transportation-focused model and taking measures to reduce our carbon footprint must be done in congress with measures to increase green space, protect existing trees + rural areas and protect our waterways from runoff and pollution. I think that our city-wide recycling program was a great initiative and it should be more ardently enforced and incentivized. I think that we should look into non-predatory measures of adding solar panels to existing homes, especially the elderly. We should also look into tax breaks and incentives for those who use public transportation as a primary means of conveyance through the city.

What are three issues specifically affecting your district that you plan to address while on council?

  • Housing Insecurity
  • Lack of equity across neighborhoods when it comes to access, education, public safety and a number of other quality of life issues
  • Public safety as a negative effect of inadequate education, social services and employment opportunities

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.