Dustin Hillis

Candidate for Atlanta City Council District 9

Website: www.votedustinhillis.com

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

The new Council must immediately come together with the new Mayor to hash out both a short-term and long-term plan to address violent crimes. This starts with rebuilding a police force that is currently down to under 1,400 officers, from its authorized force of just over 2,000. To do that, recruitment and retention must be the top priority, allowing Atlanta to attract the best and brightest as part of our force. Given many metro area and comparable cities have increased their compensation packages in response to our adjustments, we will need to conduct a new analysis with the goal of making Atlanta the best city in the southeast to be employed as a law enforcement officer. A new zone and beat realignment also needs to be implemented, allowing for an additional zone and an increased number of beats, which will allow officers to focus more time on proactive patrols and community policing.

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

Affordable housing will continue to be a priority for District 9 and the city. During my first term, I worked with Invest Atlanta and developers to build or retain over 900 affordable units in District 9, with almost 90 percent of those being in the “at or below 60 percent AMI” range. I also worked with the neighborhoods and administration to establish the Westside Park Overlay, an expansive zoning overlay that requires new developments to have a certain percentage of both for rent and for sale affordable housing. This was the first ever affordability requirement on for sale units here in the City.

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

Transit on the BeltLine is and will continue to be a priority. In addition to the More MARTA funds, I am hopeful we can seek out and be awarded federal funds to start implementing transit on the BeltLine well before the goals currently set out. The City and MARTA also need to continually work together to ensure More MARTA funds are going to the projects that make the most sense and will have the most impact, including the BeltLine transit projects.

What can the council do prioritize combatting climate change? 

Unfortunately, many of the most impactful changes we could implement would have to be done (or allowed) on the state level, given local governments are preempted by that state. As a City, we need to up our focus on sustainability. This includes things like better management of stormwater, a better and expanded urban agriculture program, preserving and establishing more greenspace, and establishing more multi-use trails, including the completed Chattahoochee RiverLands plan and completing the Proctor Creek Trail.

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

The need for safer neighborhoods, better infrastructure, and improved city services.

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.