Clarence Blalock is running for City Council District 1.
Candidate website: www.clarenceforatlanta.com
Q: What is your current job (include the name of your employer) and list any significant memberships in public service organizations?
A: Private sector GIS Analyst. I’m a board member of the Save Old Atlanta Prison Farm organization, Grant Park Neighborhood Association and NPU-W member. I’ve also assisted in local zoning matters for the community.
Q: What is the biggest issue facing your constituents and why are you the best candidate to address it?
A: Climate change at the local level. My background in Environmental Science informs my decisions and my focus on the environment is highlighting a very under-discussed topic at the city council level.
Q: How do you define “affordability” in housing and what is a specific tactic you would use to improve it?
A: Affordable to those at the 30 AMI income level and below is true affordability, Atlanta is unaffordable to the working class. We should activate city owned property for a robust response to the crisis, we need a much stronger response and we have to use our vacant land inventory to make an impact.
Q: City Hall has been dogged by an apparently ongoing federal investigation involving accusations of corruption in the previous mayoral administration. How would you help restore public trust on matters of staff spending and contract procurement?
A: We must be more transparent with the public, especially with plans, procurement, contracts, and legislation. I myself have been slow walked on an open records request regarding the police training facility.
Q: In 2020, Atlanta and the nation experienced two historic events: the COVID-19 pandemic and protests about racial justice and police brutality. What is a public-policy lesson you learned from those events?
A: We need more proactive legislation and less reactionary legislation from Atlanta City Council. Knee jerk reactions to events rarely have positive outcomes. We need redress for communities impacted by the long term effects of racism and discrimination. We must do more than put up signs in our yards and other performative actions.
Q: The debate about the location of a public safety training center is an example of longstanding tension over whether Atlanta’s urban planning should be more top-down from corporations and private groups or more bottom-up from communities and neighborhoods. What is your approach to planning processes and is there a specific change you would make?
A: The police training facility is a key example of secretive groups pushing an agenda opposed by the vast majority of citizens of our city. I became aware of it 2019, but it was not widely known. We do not need corporate money making decisions over the will of the people and organizations such as the Atlanta Police Foundation and Neighbors For More Neighbors should not be setting policy for the City of Atlanta. Our agenda should come from the people. We should have real public engagement, town halls when they become feasible, and really speak to the members of our district whenever we can.
Q: Do you support the Atlanta public safety training center’s location on Key Road in DeKalb County? Why or why not?
A: Absolutely not, I have fought this proposal with every fiber of my being since proposed. It is against the environment, against the common man in Atlanta, an insult to anyone who served time there or lives in Southwest DeKalb. This is environmental racism. The lease should be canceled for all these reasons and I do believe that the environmental impact study may find results that end this project such as unmarked graves. I will continue to fight for the people of Atlanta and against this proposal on council.
Q: Who is the main expert you turn to for information on understanding and addressing crime and what is an important fact you have learned from them?
A: I have friends in the media and who work in police departments who give me great insight. I know we are not keeping fresh or relevant data online regarding crime. We need to be open and honest about these situations and use data to make smarter decisions. I also try to reach out to the public and find content experts on these topics and I value their input.
Q: What are some areas of opportunity for the mayor’s office to work in partnership with the Atlanta Public Schools superintendent and board?
A: We should take the lead from the APS Board on school matters and engage with the public and parents. We can assist the schools to make bus stops safer or have more after school programs, for example. We should stop giving out so many abatements for developments in high demand areas to ensure well funded schools.
Q: Anything else that you want to share for voters who may be undecided?
A: In addition to my environmental agenda, I have 10 years experience in city government. I would have good experience in solving constituent services concerns because I’ve been there before. Carla Smith has excelled in this role, and I hope to continue the high standard she has set. Everyone in this race comes from a different background and there are other well qualified candidates, but my background is unique in this field of candidates. Solving local issues is the majority of your local councilmember’s role and I want to find the best solutions for the people of Atlanta and I want to hear from you. Everyone deserves respect and to be heard in the City of Atlanta and I will fight for you.
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