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Alfred “Shivy” Brooks is running for City Council Post 1 At Large.
Candidate website: www.brooksforatl.com
Q: What is your current job (include the name of your employer) and list any significant memberships in public service organizations?
A: High School Economics Teacher
Q: What is the biggest issue facing your constituents and why are you the best candidate to address it?
A: Less than 5% of all new apartment units in Atlanta have been allotted affordable living. I will approve funding for the first tiny house village exclusively for homeless women, children, and people of color through a public-private partnership. Our current 311 apps and customer service calling center are obsolete. I will move to get more funding for 311, as emergencies don’t just happen M-F 9-5. 311 must be 24/7. Lastly, we must invest in public safety that better serves the residents of Atlanta. We must improve training for officers including racial bias training and screening, de-escalation tactics and community engagement.
Q: How do you define “affordability” in housing and what is a specific tactic you would use to improve it?
A: Atlanta needs a better definition of what is considered “Affordable Housing.” What is offered as “affordable” in a city with one of the largest wealth gaps is, in fact, out of reach for most of our citizens. Developers are given tax breaks to create developments with at least 15% “affordable units.” However, the affordability of these units, as well as the quantity of said “affordable” units, is still unattainable for the vast majority of our residents. Only 5% of Atlanta’s new developments are deemed “affordable” based on the suggested metric of 80% of AMI, while 95% of new units qualify as “luxury” units. I will no longer allow for the granting of permits to developers that abuse tax breaks for affordable living, while simply lining their pockets and catering to certain demographics. I will audit current housing stock for compliance with previously negotiated developments.
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?
I will continue to support and be an advocate for transparency within City Hall. Our new Task Force for the Promotion of Public Trust and Transparency Officer needs local officials to abide by and ensure its sustainability. I will provide necessary documentation within a timely manner and I will uphold all guidelines concerning ethics and transparency within my role as your City Councilman. As a city council, I am committed to being a PUBLIC servant. This means making sure the public is served regardless of any other factor.
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: Atlanta City Council is not as supportive of social justice and police reforms as we’d hope and in order to get real change need more progressive candidates running viable campaigns to beat incumbents who are resistant to change. City must do more to make testing and vaccination more readily available. We have a huge issue re affordability and availability of housing for lower income individuals and families and those affected by the pandemic. We must invest in public safety that better serves the residents of Atlanta. We must improve training for officers including racial bias training and screening, de-escalation tactics and community engagement.
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: I believe that planning and development should be community centered, that the will of the people, neighborhoods, and communities should take precedence over corporate interests and sweetheart deals to line individual citizens’ pockets. We must update our permitting and development approval process to allow for more community involvement at each step and to give proportionately more weight to community and citizen opinions above corporate interests. The process should be reformed to entail more frequent contacts with the community and more time for responses to be submitted. NPUs should also work to engage with and advocate for their residents, and should be given more opportunities to voice their neighborhoods’ concerns during the process. As part of the reforms, we must streamline permit processing and create transparency on the licensing. There is a lack of accountability within our city in these processes and Atlanta’s deserve better.
Q: Do you support the Atlanta public safety training center’s location on Key Road in DeKalb County? Why or why not?
No. This facility is wrong for Atlanta. It represents a back door privatization of our police force, where corporate interests have dirtied the hands of those serving the public.This facility is not going to solve our policing problems in Atlanta. It gives false comfort to citizens, who are looking for a reduction in violent crime in our city. To help our officers, we should invest in tools to help them solve crime, such as a crime lab and increased training. Atlanta has better options for building an improved training facility for our police, but we should not build a facility that will exacerbate our already problematic issues with flooding and cause environmental harm and irreversible damage to the already disappearing tree canopy in our city, all against the desires of the people of Atlanta.
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?
I have had honest conversations with police at various levels and departments, as well as with local prosecutors, who have echoed concerns about public safety. I also am in constant contact with community members and organizers who share their concerns about public safety from our citizens’ perspectives. Something has to be done about the morale of police as well as our police and community relationships. Additionally, we need a state of the art crime lab as it is currently taking the GBI to long to compile evidence needed for the trial and conviction of some of our repeat offenders.
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: Through my experience as a current classroom teacher, I am currently experiencing the attacks on our public school system. Our schools must receive enough funding to truly reach and teach our next generation. Access to the internet is a human necessity. Currently, 1 in 4 families lack access to high speed internet in their homes and APS spends millions of dollars to abridge the digital divide of students. I will work to create a municipally owned 5G broadband internet option that will be free to low-cost for our residents. Additionally, I plan to hold town halls and conversations in coordination with the Georgia Department of Education and Atlanta Public Schools, so that parents and teachers will be informed about what is happening and why. I also plan to create a task force to bridge the gap between APS and our communities.
Q: Anything else that you want to share for voters who may be undecided?
A: Atlanta has become less affordable, has had increases in violence, and has created less opportunity, over the last twenty plus years. Reelecting those who have been in office during this time will not assist us in fixing these issues. The people who created these issues will not be the ones to help us fix them. Now is an opportunity for positive change, with fresh voices and visions.
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