Candidate for Sandy Springs City Council, District 2
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1) What are three issues affecting your district that you would tackle as a councilmember?
In District 2, I would like to work with developers to encourage the redevelopment of the northern shopping centers into mixed-use residential with some retail; continue investment in more parks, trails, and green space; help renters with habitability issues; and foster a closer relationship between Fulton County Schools and the City of Sandy Springs.
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?
First, we must define the terminology to make sure we are all starting from the same place. The term “affordable housing” has multiple meanings depending on who you ask. I would like to see more missing-middle housing and opportunities for home ownership for workers and seniors who want to downsize but remain in Sandy Springs. I support incentive programs for developers to encourage them to develop middle-price housing for ownership so that workers can build equity, which is one path toward financial security. I would like to see pocket neighborhoods — smaller homes on smaller lots that require owner occupancy. Owner occupancy fosters a sense of community and prevents desirable and affordable properties from being bought just as an investment with no intent to live there.
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?
I believe the answer lies in creating incentive programs to redevelop shopping centers to contain a mix of diverse price point housing (both fee simple property and rental property at both market and below market rates) and amenities (retail, public art and green space). Everyone wants beautiful spaces and to have places to walk such as restaurants, coffee shops, etc. Residents of the North End are no exception. When I spent time at City Springs last Saturday, I saw our vibrant space being used for so many purposes. People were visiting the Farmer’s Market; children were playing ball on the green and making bubbles. Others were relaxing on the benches and chairs having coffee or walking dogs. While I believe City Springs will always be the anchor of our downtown, we need similar outdoor spaces for residents of the North End.
4) How would you work to improve equity and diversity in Sandy Springs?
One way to promote diversity and inclusion is to provide more opportunities for residents from different backgrounds to interact. Many residents do this through supporting the hard-working non-profit and religious organizations that operate in the city. As a public-school mom, whether serving as room parent, attending birthday parties, or cheering on sports teams, I have been grateful for the chance to engage with Sandy Springs families from broad circle of life experiences.
I also participated in one of the Civic Dinners sponsored by the city and recommended that the city create a diversity and inclusion committee because our city is so diverse. The city should continue its efforts to communicate with residents in multiple languages and seek recommendations from the local non-profit organizations as to how to engage with residents.
5) If city finances were to decline, would you consider a tax hike or would you rather cut city services and programs?
Naturally, this depends on the facts. Is this a temporary or long-term situation? I would much prefer to see city departments decide where they can shift funds or delay projects. I am generally not in favor of raising taxes.