Sherry B. Williams
Candidate for Atlanta City Council Post 3 At-Large
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What immediate actions can city council take to aid in curbing the violent crime occurring in Atlanta?
I believe the solution lies in community policing, civilian oversight, and getting to the root cause of systemic injustices for those who Black, Brown and often underserved and disenfranchised. In order to accomplish this, we need to reform APD by embracing and implementing the Obama Administration’s 2015 President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
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 will work with Invest Atlanta and the Atlanta Housing Authority to see that affordable housing actually gets built with the funds that are already available. Additionally, there is money available for first time home buyers that is sitting unused because the city has failed to adequately inform people that it’s available. Also, we need to invest money in affordable housing to ensure it remains affordable instead of immediately skyrocketing in price after the temporary limits expire.
One very important thing we need to do is to implement a policy similar to what they have in Washington DC that creates a line item in the annual city budget for building affordable housing units.
Will transit on the Atlanta BeltLine corridor be a top priority and how will you work to fast-track it?
The most important thing is to ensure that transit connectivity and MARTA expansion isn’t just limited to the Beltline but extends to other parts of the city, especially in SW Atlanta where many residents are transit dependent. Beltline residents generally have a choice of transportation modes, while underserved and disenfranchised residents often don’t. They need to get to job centers across the region that aren’t on the Beltline.
The Beltline is an important part of the greater transit plan. It will have a unique service delivery corridor that does not overlap with large roads that will be able to move people around the inner city core and business districts that are not on MARTA rail lines. But it needs to be augmented with transportation corridors into underserved neighborhoods that need to be connected to the Beltline, existing MARTA rail and bus routes.
What can the council do to prioritize combatting climate change?
One of the most basic approaches to dangerous traffic is to build bike and sidewalk infrastructure. With bike lanes, they need to be protected bike lanes. A white line on the street doesn’t give people the confidence they need to adopt cycling as a real transportation option. One very effective strategy is to use a parking lane to protect the bike lane. This has several advantages. First, it’s about the cheapest way to protect a bike lane. Second, it reduces the need for parking lots, which can allow for smaller parking minimums without making it impractical for the vast majority of people forced to use cars to visit a location. And finally, it serves as traffic calming. Many roads are simply too wide. Adding a protected bike lane can serve as the impetus for a much needed road diet on a lot of streets.
Second, we need to expand MARTA. While expensive, it is the most effective and efficient thing that can be done at the city level. I have long been a strong advocate for MARTA expansion, and I have always advocated for doing it equitably. We need to make sure that the upcoming federal infrastructure money is evenly distributed across all neighborhoods and prioritize communities that need it most. I will work with stakeholders to ensure everyone benefits from this money regardless of zip code. I will also work to ensure that once money is allocated it actually goes to those projects.
Third, we need to promote and incentivise electric car ownership, conversion of bus fleets and tractor trailers to electric. Working with the state, we need to implement policies similar to those about a decade ago that gave incentives to those who purchased electric cars. Also provide the infrastructure for more charging stations across the city, including southwest Atlanta for all of these electric, clean energy vehicles, buses and trucks. This might include a one time incentive to businesses to install charging stations for cars and for bus and truck companies to share charging facilities, where appropriate, if there is not one within a certain distance of existing ones. This will also improve air quality.
Fourth, make sure companies within the City that have particulate releases are regularly monitored and compliant with all clean air rules and regulations. This could also include a moratorium or decrease in the number of gas station permits allowed. It is counterproductive to not decrease the number of gas stations allowed while trying to convert to electric and improving our air quality.
What are three issues specifically affecting your district that you plan to address while on council?
As I am running at-large, I don’t have district specific obligations. In fact, one of the main reasons I am running is to ensure that each district and neighborhood is treated equally by the city. Too often, we see the city focusing primarily on wealthier neighborhoods that don’t need attention and investment as much as poor and marginalized communities. I aim to fix that. As for my top three issues, they are: 1) public safety and crime, 2) infrastructure, transportation and transit, and 3) affordable housing.