Doug Shipman

There’s a new president in town as Doug Shipman prepares to take the reins of the Atlanta City Council. Shipman, who previously was the founding CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and CEO for the Woodruff Arts Center, defeated opponent Natalyn Archibong in the Nov. 30 runoff for City Council President.

While this his first time holding political office, Shipman is entrenched in the city after graduating from Emory University and serving on various boards and commissions in both the corporate and nonprofit sector. The Bull Shoals, AR native is a long-time resident of Old Fourth Ward with his wife, Dr. Bijal Shah, and their two daughters.

We caught up with Shipman to talk about pressing issues like Buckhead cityhood, his love of running, his favorite local, and to get his groovy In the Mix Playlist.

How do we keep Buckhead as part of Atlanta?
Buckhead City doesn’t fundamentally solve Buckhead’s problem. During the campaign, I heard the same issues the cityhood proponents are talking about like crime and city services across the whole city. There are lots of technical issues – schools, bonds, economic development. Both Atlanta and Buckhead’s prospects in attracting future companies would be severely damaged, and Charlotte and Dallas would use the split against us. The city council needs to be more responsive and engage directly with Buckhead folks about the issues they have raised. More broadly, the question for the council is are our budgets and approach to city services and public safety appropriate for Buckhead and the entire city.

What can the council do to encourage affordable housing?
There has already been progress with the city council creating the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Those resources are a step in the right direction. We have to move quickly on multiple fronts, including identifying city-owned land for potential development, how we use incentives for developers, leveraging land trusts and public/private partnerships, and operations at Atlanta Housing [the city’s housing authority]. In addition, we have to make sure that we have a plan for growth at all price points. We also must consider infrastructure and transit. We need to be thoughtful about the infrastructure we connect with affordable housing. We can’t put down an affordable house if it’s not connected to basics like grocery stores, shops, transit, and childcare.

Speaking of transit, how about that long-awaited BeltLine rail and other transportation projects?
Both the mayor-elect [Andre Dickens] and I have been very vocal about the need for transit on the BeltLine – it’s the city’s number one transit priority. There are unspent transit tax dollars from the last referendum, we have dollars coming from the federal government, and other potential dollars in bills being considered now. We must prioritize projects, look at MARTA’s priorities, and make sure projects in the works like the Complete Street makeovers on Campbellton Road and DeKalb Avenue are being completed in a timely way.

We hear you’re an avid runner.
I live on Freedom Path Trail, so I ran four- and five-days week in the morning during the campaign – four to eight miles at a stretch. I also did a marathon and two half-marathons during the campaign. It was just a way to clear a lot of stress and clear my mind. Most of the time I was wearing my own campaign t-shirt. I won’t miss that.

What’s your favorite local watering hole?
During COVID, we sort of adopted Field Day as our go-to place. You can also find me at Manuel’s Tavern, Delbar, and Just Add Honey.

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.