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Antonio Lewis is running for City Council District 12.
Candidate website: antoniolewisatl.com
Q: What is your current job (include the name of your employer) and list any significant memberships in public service organizations?
A: SR Communications Coordinator AFSCME, President of Lincoln University of Missouri Atlanta Alumni Association, Member United Staff Union Member, Interoots Board Member.
Q: What is the biggest issue facing your constituents and why are you the best candidate to address it?
A: Poverty- People from Atlanta have been left behind in the growth of Atlanta and bridges to the middle class have been torn down. I am the only candidate with real plans to bring in two guaranteed jobs for youth and young adults and I have the plan to pay for it. My experience working on capital hill, in the labor movement and getting progressive candidates elected nationally along with me being the only candidate that emerged from the bad policy of the past 20 years makes me the best candidate in this election.
Q: How do you define “affordability” in housing and what is a specific tactic you would use to improve it?
A: I define affordable housing as 30% or less of a families income. The first tactic I will take is to audit developments that received tax cuts or tax breaks to provide affordable housing to make sure that they actually followed the rules. Second, I will work to bring back on line sites that used to provide affordable housing and use public and private funding to make this happen.
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: I will work with the Federal investigators on the involving corruption probe. I will commit to remaining transparent throughout my time in office and I will make sure that City Council holds each person that broke the law accountable for their actions.
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 have to have dynamic leaders in elected offices to help keep our city moving in the right directions. I was able to work with the City of Memphis, the City of Houston and with Lincoln University of Missouri during this process and I was able to be apart of getting direct help to the people. I learned that cities and organizations have to fully use their partnerships to efficiently and effectively lead in a national crisis.
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 think that we need to be more balanced but lean more towards bottom up. I think we need to rewrite our NPU coding so that we can not only add neighborhood partners but to also give the system more authority in matters.
Q: Do you support the Atlanta public safety training center’s location on Key Road in DeKalb County? Why or why not?
A: No. I think that the plan was pushed though. This training center is going to inhibit our city in its climate change goals by 2035. The removal of age old trees will have a horrible impact on the communities surround the forest.
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 speak with the Dean of the Police Academy at Lincoln University of Missouri, an HBCU that has created a police academy during the last year to train police in the best ways to handle interactions. I have learned that we not only need to put more money in mental health but that we need to change some of the duties that police have and give them to different departments.
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: In ensuring that policies are enacted with equity in mind. 29% of Black Atlantans are below the poverty line with only 4% predicted to see any social mobility. We need to go back to being the beacon for social mobility that we used to be.
Q: Anything else that you want to share for voters who may be undecided?
A: I’m running for office because my story is only possible in Atlanta. The only issue is that the Atlanta my story happened in, no longer offers the same opportunities or even comparable opportunities. The New York Times once wrote a story about a city and how that city invests in its kids. Atlanta is that city and I’m the kid that was used for that story. Atlanta isn’t torn apart, its just broken and anything broken can be fixed. We just need good policymakers to do the fixing.
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