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Jacki Labat is running for City Council Post 3 At Large.
Candidate website: www.jackiforatlanta.com
Q: What is your current job (include the name of your employer) and list any significant memberships in public service organizations?
A: I am the President & CEO of Labat & Company, LLC a business management consulting firm. I am a member of the L. E. A. D. (Launch, Expose, Advise & Direct) Advisory Council, Jack & Jill of America, Inc. and Pace Cetters professional women’s organization.
Q: What is the biggest issue facing your constituents and why are you the best candidate to address it?
A: Based on conversations I’ve had with residents across the city, crime and public safety is their biggest concern. Atlanta has developed a reputation amongst criminals for being soft on crime – especially as compared to surrounding cities and municipalities. We must support our law enforcement officers while also holding them accountable to build trust between the police and the community. Atlanta needs a fully-staffed police force and fire department this is backed by legislative and community support that includes competitive pay, innovative training and the necessary equipment. The city’s signature bond process should be overhauled – FTA rates are soaring. Additionally, the juvenile justice system is broken. Too many repeat offenders are juveniles who face minor to no consequences when committing crimes – including violent acts. I will partner with our schools and business community to engage, empower, educate & employ our youth so they avoid the criminal justice system altogether.
Q: How do you define “affordability” in housing and what is a specific tactic you would use to improve it?
A: When it comes to housing, the word “affordable” is relative. It means different things for different people. Short term solutions—particularly during this pandemic — are needed to ensure that any federal dollars provided to the city of Atlanta for COVID-19 relief are distributed timely to those in need, and long-term solutions should be addressed with creative policy solutions, zoning updates and ordinance reshaping. We need collaborative solutions that use public land to create more mixed income housing and must create programs that will subsidize rents as well as the increasing property taxes for those legacy residents who find themselves in danger of being displaced. Our Chief Housing Officer should work to preserve units, streamline processes and support innovative solutions to minimize displacement and ensure equitable outcomes. These programs are more critical now more than ever as residents struggle to overcome fiscal, psychological & physical tolls that this pandemic took on many.
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: Attracting and retaining exceptional employees will go a long way toward building a culture of ethical transparency. We must be selective about who we hire and provide ongoing training and development opportunities for teams collectively as well as individuals so that the organization as a whole and those who work within the organization all continually improve their skill sets. We must create a positive work environment that sparks collaboration and inspiration – an environment that continually to motivate employees to meet and exceed expectations. It is incumbent upon elected leaders to govern while making it clear that there are swift and firm repercussions for those found guilty of a breach of trust or any violation of duties or oath of office. We must lead by example and model the types of behaviors that we want to see exhibited by others.
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: One of the biggest missteps we made this time last year was assuming COVID would be over by now. While Atlanta is no longer on lockdown, the pandemic rages on. The economic toll on many has been devastating. We must begin to explore short-term and long-term post-COVID recovery plans – looking ahead 3, 5, 10 years and beyond. Elected officials work with the business community, economic development leaders and health care professionals to ensure that our communities don’t just survive this pandemic but also thrive in spite of the pandemic. The protests about racial justice and police brutality indicate that people are angry, tired and weary – fuses are short. Elected leaders need to have the political courage and intestinal fortitude to hold law enforcement accountable for wrongdoings and should also educate the public as to the need for due process to apply to everyone to ensure equitable, just outcomes.
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: With respect to the training academy, I like the public-private partnerships that went into developing the framework of the plan. I would, however, like to improve the ways in which citizen engagement, involvement and community-based decision-making can be involved in the process of policy-making to not only improve government policy but to also provide the public with the opportunity to participate and to influence policies that directly affect them. As an elected leader, I will be accessible and transparent and will remain open to external ideas and advice. I don’t believe that elected leaders have a monopoly on sound ideas. While ultimate responsibility and accountability for leadership must remain with elected leaders, we must have genuine public engagement to move Atlanta forward.
Q: Do you support the Atlanta public safety training center’s location on Key Road in DeKalb County? Why or why not?
A: I believe the new public safety training academy is vital. It was absolutely time to move from the condemned facilities they have used for decades. This training academy will ensure that our public safety personnel no longer have to depend on neighboring jurisdictions to allow them to use their training course and training facilities. The Atlanta Police Foundation has promised the public that the facility will be dedicated to police reform and dedicated to the public, and I intend to fully support that mission.
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: Crime and public safety are regular topics of discussion in our household. I discuss strategies for improving public safety not only with my husband, but also with a number of elected leaders in city, county, state and federal government as well as other law enforcements professionals in and around metro-Atlanta to include one of my key mentors, former Sheriff Jackie Barrett Washington. I’ve learned that local, state and federal partnerships and collaboration are essential to fighting crime to address repeat offenders, gangs and getting illegal guns off the street. We should continue to focus on gun safety awareness and conflict resolution training for our youth and expand the city’s camera system & license plate readers and incentive private business owners (“hot spots”) to install cameras/readers that interface with the APD’s video integration center.
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: Now, more than ever, our school systems – administrators, faculty, students and parents alike – will require support and resources from civic, corporate and community partners. I would like to see us develop city-wide tutoring, mentoring and enrichment programs through the city’s Parks & Recreation centers. Our focus should be to educate and bridge the COVID gap of learning loss and to expose youth in creative ways to tap into their talents and potential that go beyond the classroom. We must provide technological resources to those in need and also include peer leadership for youth starting in elementary school with support throughout high school graduation. In addition to providing traditional scholarship assistance for college, we must also support and encourage vocational training initiatives and apprenticeship programs for those students who pursue a different path.
Q: Anything else that you want to share for voters who may be undecided?
A: As your next Post 3 At-Large Councilmember, I will bring collaborative leadership and fresh ideas to City Hall. You can count on me to work tirelessly to advance equity and improve the quality of life for all who work, live and play in Atlanta.
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