Elijah Porter is running for Atlanta City Council District 3.
Candidate website: www.elijahforatlanta.com
Q: What is your current job (include the name of your employer) and list any significant memberships in public service organizations?
A: Owner of Benjamin Porter Law Group LLC, Co-Founder of Sneaker Asylum, Member of FVSU alumni, NAACP, Alpha Phi Alpha Inc, Howard University School of Law Alumni
Q: What is the biggest issue facing your constituents and why are you the best candidate to address it?
A: The biggest issue facing our constituents is the lack of access to meaningful economic opportunities that empowers them financially. Pragmatically, the city must look to non-traditional forms of education to improve income opportunities for the workforce. Elijah Porter will support city initiatives that: invest in apprenticeship programs that create a pathway to occupational licensure; support CTE certification programs being introduced to schools in the district and make occupational licensure requirements accessible to residents – licensure gives students meaningful employment opportunities.
Q: How do you define “affordability” in housing and what is a specific tactic you would use to improve it?
A: The Fourth Regional Plan organization reported that metropolitan areas across the country has created an affordability crisis that has placed more than one million households at risk of being displaced from their homes. From increases of property taxes to increases of housing costs, now more than ever, it is necessary to generate strategies to subverting displacement and support more permanently affordable and “resident-controlled housing” to “increase wealth in lower-income communities.” If elected, Elijiah Porter will support legislation to improve renting, strengthening tenant protections, and economic wealth building for families that are facing housing insecurity in the following ways: (1) revising and enforcing the Atlanta housing code – providing strict penalties/fines for landlords and rent deduction for tenants that are housed in units with inadequate housing conditions; (2) allotting some of the city’s publicly owned land to create permanent affordable housing and reinvesting in shared-equity ownership structures; (3) reinvesting in public housing
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: Ethical and transparent management of resources requires public awareness about the city’s finances and accountability. The City of Atlanta’s Office of the Controller is responsible for ensuring that the assets of the City are properly accounted for and expended in a manner consistent with applicable laws, policies, plans and procedures. The office’s duties requires financial statement reporting and coordination of external audits. While there is currently infrastructure to generate accountability for city and city agency spending, the opacity of these internal documents have caused skepticism and distrust for residents and small businesses. If elected, Elijah Porter will support legislation that will require the Office of the Controller to publish a quarterly report to detail the non-confidential financial statements of the city. Further, I will support legislation to create a department within the Office of the Controller to evaluate resident and small business complaints as it pertains to: city contracts; financial dishonesty; and the like.
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: In April 2020, with the impact of Covid-19, the state of Georgia’s unemployment peaked record highs of businesses and job closures at an astronomical rate. Elijah Porter will ensure we have the proper economic infrastructure to withstand a pandemic by sponsoring legislation that provides more jobs, apprenticeship programs, skills training, and occupational licensure. With the national publication of police brutality and police related killings, there is currently a large distrust of law enforcement officials – which negatively impacts law enforcement duties to carry out essential functions. Elijah Porter will: support civil review boards of police misconduct; support making civil complaints against officers visible to the public; and sponsor partnerships between local law enforcement and community lead organizations to include community monitoring and safety watches, etc.
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 key objective is involving both the corporations and the communities, collaboratively. The voice of the people is prominent because we live in these communities and the voice of the corporation is equally important because they serve as the economic backdrop of infrastructure in the area.
Q: Do you support the Atlanta public safety training center’s location on Key Road in DeKalb County? Why or why not?
A: We believe that training is imperative for Atlanta public safety. We want our policing units to be educated about the communities they serve and the people they encounter primarily with a focus on rehabilitation and de-escalation techniques.
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: We refer to the community and those other city councils around the country that are dealing with similar issues. We have learned policing alternatives should play a larger role in Atlanta’s public safety strategies. As articulated, crime is a result of circumstance – one of the largest of which being poverty. Resolving and decreasing crime directly increases public safety. Data indicates that this is largely due to collateral consequences that hinder formerly incarcerated individuals. Studies demonstrate that formerly incarcerated individuals are less likely to re-offend if they happen to be released at a time when the local low-skilled labor market is strong and when well paying entry-level jobs are available. In fact recidivism rates decrease by 63 percent. If elected I will support legislation that does the following: (1) decreases recidivism rates by creating pathways to employment; (2) diversion strategies for convicted youth; and (3) eliminating barriers to employment for low-income communities.
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: Pragmatically, the city must look to non-traditional forms of education to improve income opportunities for the workforce. Elijah Porter will support city initiatives that: invest in apprenticeship programs that create a pathway to occupational licensure; support CTE certification programs being introduced to schools in the district and make occupational licensure requirements accessible to residents – licensure gives students meaningful employment opportunities – entry level positions starting at $60,000 a year; and support public funding for job training at the local level similar to funding in Massachusetts, Texas and Washington.
Q: Anything else that you want to share for voters who may be undecided?
A: Our community is in dire need of a leader who is dedicated and committed to increasing access to meaningful employment, ensuring the safety of our neighborhoods, providing affordable housing to our most vulnerable residents, and improving the quality of life for our elderly and disabled community members. The strength of our district resides solely in the collective power of our community members. There is power in both numbers and dedication to social change. Communal empowerment requires each one of us to invest in the vision that we can truly make our community what we want it to be — a reflection of our rich history and our radiant future. Our moment of reclamation is here, the time for dynamic action is now. Together, We Will.
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