Doug Shipman

Candidate for Atlanta City Council President

Website: dougshipman.com

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What immediate actions should Atlanta take to curb violent crime occurring in the city?

We need to work with the police and not against them. We also need to engage our public health community (CDC, Emory, Morehouse School of Medicine) to bring public health strategies to bear on public safety questions.

Specifically, I would focus on:

  •  Hiring and retaining police and fire and rescue personnel with an emphasis on expanded units for mental health and domestic violence.
  • Reviewing hiring processes, incentives for housing, and education and training support.
  • Investing in new and upgraded training facilities to improve recruiting and training for our officers.
  • Implementing community engagement and policing strategies combined with investment in youth programs (e.g., summer jobs, community centers, internships).
  • Increasing incentives for public safety staff to live in the city and to obtain higher levels of education.
     

Will affordable housing be a top priority of the council?

Yes. There’s been a lot of talks but not enough action. We need to make improvements in several areas:

  •  Increasing the use of the city-owned property for affordable housing.
  • Making it easier to rehabilitate existing properties into affordable or mixed-use units.
  • Allowing accessory dwelling unit construction and conversion without the ability to deed separately. This also needs to be coupled with appropriate short-term rental regulations.
  • Seeking more federal, state, and local funds to encourage and subsidize near-transit development which increases overall “life affordability.”
  • Using future payments from projects like the Gulch to back bonds for affordable housing Expanding land banking initiatives to support affordable housing.
  • Considering zoning changes in certain parts of the city to allow ground-floor commercial to be converted to live/workspaces (i.e., Greenville Riverwalk approach).

Will transit on the Atlanta BeltLine corridor be a top priority, and what can the council and administration do to fast-track it?

Yes. Transit on the Beltline is crucial to deliver in the near term as the Beltline trail continues to be built. Beltline rail will allow connectivity as initially envisioned in the plans for the Beltline. Beltline rail also allows for total life affordability — multiple studies have shown that transit options, costs, and time significantly hinder affordability in the Atlanta metro. Beltline rail can also contribute to a much more sustainable and lower carbon future as efficient travel can replace carbon-intensive travel.

As City Council President, I will build and maintain relationships with regional and state officials so that Atlanta’s needs are understood and supported. I will advocate for the timely development of detailed plans and build neighborhood support for transparent and prioritized objectives. I will ask for a full review of the MORE MARTA program in early 2022. I would spend a significant amount of my time as City Council President building and maintaining relationships with regional and state officials so that Atlanta’s needs are precise and working relationships with other municipal officials are intact.

Will you recommit to combating climate change, and what are some steps the city can take to get businesses and residents onboard? 

Yes. Combating climate change and increasing our water and energy sustainability are critical priorities for my vision for Atlanta. I will engage with the Clean Energy Advisory Board and support their initiatives. I will also work with philanthropic and corporate leaders to expand funding and private sector actions to increase renewable energy. I will also lead an effort to audit all city properties for potential renewable energy projects.  Atlanta should consider implementing requirements for the inclusion of renewable energy for all projects receiving economic incentives from the City of Atlanta, Invest Atlanta, and/or the Atlanta Housing Authority.

How will the council and administration address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic?

As the spouse of an emergency room doctor at Grady Hospital, I have seen firsthand the impact of COVID-19 and the toll it has taken on people and our healthcare system, and workers. I would advocate strongly and work to provide resources to maximize vaccine distribution across our community. I would continue to support efforts to lower the spread, including mask mandates, PPE distribution, and working with public and private sector employers on ways to decrease worker exposure and spread. We also must remain mindful of the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on mental, physical, and economic well-being. I anticipate the need to invest in more excellent resources in these areas as we emerge from COVID.

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.