Brandon Cory Goldberg is running for Atlanta City Council Post 1 At Large.
Candidate website: www.brandoncorygoldberg.com
Q: What is your current job (include the name of your employer) and list any significant memberships in public service organizations?
A: Attorney, CryoLife, Inc.
American Jewish Committee
Member, Atlanta Executive Board
Former Co-Chair, ACCESS (Young Professionals Division)
Democratic Party of Georgia
Chair, Mid-Fulton Democrats
State Committee Member
Delegate, 2018 Democratic Party State Convention
Member, Young Democrats of Atlanta (YDATL)
Red Clay Democrats
Former Co-Chair of Programming
Stonewall Bar Association
Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition
Former Steering Committee Member
Alumni of the Project Understanding Leadership Retreat
State Bar of Georgia
Member, Special Committee on Professional Liability Insurance
Cornell Alumni Association of Atlanta
Q: What is the biggest issue facing your constituents and why are you the best candidate to address it?
A: The greatest issue facing Atlanta is our community divide. This is what prevents us from solving all of our other problems. We need not look any further than the 2017 mayoral runoff to see the stark divide in Atlanta. We need to bring people together from different backgrounds and points of view to identify solutions that will have buy-in from all sides. That’s how we find effective, sustainable solutions. My campaign’s advisory committees are designed to do just this, and my experience in our community is in bringing different perspectives together to find solutions. I have advisory committees dedicated to public safety, COVID-19 economic recovery, housing equity, transportation, and diversity.
Q: How do you define “affordability” in housing and what is a specific tactic you would use to improve it?
A: Affordability means having a home you can respect without going bankrupt. I support much of the city’s Planning Report released in March. Rezoning single family homes, particular ones near transit options, can help alleviate this issue. We can maintain the feel of a neighborhood while still allowing for more carriage houses, basement units, and similar options. Additionally, the city should explore opportunities to build microhomes on currently unused city property. These homes will provide those currently homeless with a safe place to live and alleviate other issues in our city related to homelessness. At the same time, we need to recognize that different neighborhoods will require different solutions. What works in one area may work in another, but it may not. Of course, we also need to ensure that developers meet affordable housing standards and that there are no fees or other alternatives for developers to avoid these standards.
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: The use of auditing and an Inspector General needs to be vastly expanded. Mismanagement of funds and programming, such as with the WorkSource grant and HOPWA, are unfortunately perfect examples of Atlanta falling short in areas where we should be excelling. This kind of mismanagement is totally unacceptable, and only through closer auditing and review can City Council and the Mayor work together to ensure effective governance. Council should regularly call before its committees the city officials overseeing efforts that are falling short. Explanations should be provided by those officials, and corrective action should be presented as well. The Inspector General’s office should provide day-to-day oversight, ensuring ethical and legal management of our funds.
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: I learned that our city is woefully unprepared for when things don’t go right. Our policies and procedures appear to be based on hoping for the best, or at least normalcy. Instead, we must hope for the best but plan for the worst. We need to have emergency protocols in place for every possible situation, including needs ranging from evacuation to housing to water supply and yes, to addressing situations in which any government employee has acted inappropriately. We cannot just try to wing it, and when multiple issues happen simultaneously, we cannot become swamped. Our government needs to provide the best services on our best days and on our worst days without any gap or deficiency. That is what we must strive to achieve as leaders.
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: While serving on Council, I will of course not be in a singular leadership role. As a part of Council, through listening, respectful discussion, and collaboration, I will work with my colleagues to find creative solutions to any issue we face and to craft legislation and plans to move our city forward. I will also continue my campaign practice of having community-driven committees to advise me. By putting corporations/private groups and community/neighborhood representatives at the same table, we can find sustainable solutions. For the training facility process, this was a classic example of the city stepping on its own toes. Even those who supported the facility and location on Council should have understood that there would be a great deal of pushback because of the location. They should have recognized the conflict and delay that this would cause and looked for a new location from the start.
Q: Do you support the Atlanta public safety training center’s location on Key Road in DeKalb County? Why or why not?
A: There are three issues: 1. What should be taught in a training facility? 2. Do we need a new facility? 3. If we do need a new facility, where should the facility be located? First, our officers need to receive training that focuses on smart rules of engagement and effective de-escalation tactics. They also need to fully understand our diversion options and when to call in an alternative response. if we’re going to talk about effective yet equitable policing, then we need to provide first class facilities in which to teach our officers. Our current facility is literally falling apart, and it is full of mold and other unacceptable conditions. We need a replacement. That doesn’t mean we need a university worth of facilities. The location is unacceptable. It is problematic given its history as a prison farm and also because it is on land identified for green space.
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’m fortunate to have a whole team! A perfect example of my approach to solving problems is my Public Safety Committee. My Committee consists of both community leaders and a former police officer to ensure all perspectives are a part of the conversation. Our police should live locally to their patrols, so that there’s built in trust with their neighbors and small business owners. We need to make sure police are well trained and well compensated. That way, we will retain our officers and provide them with the education they need to do their job effectively and equitably. We also need to further expand police alternative options, such as with PAD and with having the zoning authority respond to zoning issues instead of the police. What they taught me is that there truly is middle ground on these issues!
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 work with our local colleges and universities to support economic laboratories, empowering students to explore economics and business opportunities. We should connect schools with entrepreneurs and businesses to establish those connections. These opportunities should also be widely available in our public schools. I have had the pleasure of knowing our current APS school board chair Jason Esteves for nearly fifteen years, going back to our days as classmates at Emory Law. I will work with him and our entire board to build these opportunities and programs for our students.
Q: Anything else that you want to share for voters who may be undecided?
A: I will run my Council office the same way I run my campaign: as a community-driven effort that brings together diverse perspectives to explore the challenges facing Atlanta and craft sustainable solutions that have broad buy-in. I am not interested in introducing legislation or fighting for positions that will not see the light of day or success if passed. I am interested in those solutions that large portions of the city will get behind and support. Those kinds of solutions are not easy to craft, but it is the only way to ensure that we can actually move Atlanta forward.
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