Candidate for Sandy Springs City Council, District 3
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1) What are three issues affecting your district that you would tackle as a councilmember?
Improvements in both transparency and communications are a priority. Residents are unable to get satisfactory answers, information is not easy to access, important decisions are made with little or no diverse public input, and providing input is cumbersome and intimidating.
Infrastructure is another concern. Increases in road congestion require innovations in transportation so that we can connect people to jobs and services, support businesses, and serve people’s daily needs. We must also prioritize budgeting of funds to alleviate storm water issues in our neighborhoods and paving of our roads and sidewalks. Moreover, we need to optimize the management associated with public works projects that drag on for years, with significant cost overruns, and little explanation of what went wrong.
And most comprehensively, poorly planned growth has created opportunities for some residents – but not all. Public safety, accessibility, affordability, and high quality jobs are at the forefront of inclusive policies needed to keep our community thriving.
2) How would you encourage more housing diversity and affordability in Sandy Springs, especially for city workers and others who can’t afford to live where they work?
To start, we must pursue public and social impact investments that preserve current affordable housing and protect vulnerable community members from displacement. I would then complete the Strategic Housing Action Plan identified in the 2020 Housing and Economic Development Studies to learn about the successful solutions being used in other cities. I would also establish a study committee to explore the benefits of innovative ideas such as community land trusts and employer-assisted homeownership programs. Finally, I would work to gain community support through informed education that clarifies the issues and misconceptions around housing affordability.
3) How would you encourage redevelopment in Sandy Springs, such as in the city’s North End, while balancing issues of displacement for lower-income residents?
In 2018, the city collected community input for the North End. Residents asked for a community center, more accessible green space, parks with access to the river, and reasonable rent and homeownership opportunities. There are currently underutilized locations that should be prime targets for redevelopment to address these priorities, but the area needs public investment. Public funding and community-driven policy development can create economic stimulation while prioritizing the families who call this area home.
4) How would you work to improve equity and diversity in Sandy Springs?
Addressing our housing affordability is critical to improving equity and diversity. But we must also invest in transit to connect people to jobs, housing, healthy food, and healthcare. To do that, I would ensure that the city earmarks the $13.8M we received in American Rescue Act funds. Additionally, the Parks Master plan must include diverse perspectives, and working with the city’s Diversity Task Force would be a step in the right direction. Lastly, I would bolster support of our public schools through strategic partnerships, volunteer participation, and grants.
5) If city finances were to decline, would you consider a tax hike or would you rather cut city services and programs?
I would seek to balance the budget by other means, such as cutting specific department budgets, delaying capital expenditures, refinancing debt, freezing hiring for some non-essential positions, and avoiding reactive responses like cutting services or raising taxes.