Keona Jones is running for Atlanta City Council District 3.
Candidate website: https://votekeona.com/
What is your current job (include the name of your employer) and list any significant memberships in public service organizations?
Historic Hills Community Development Corporation/ Community Engagement Coordinator
What is the biggest issue facing your constituents and why are you the best candidate to address it?
The biggest issue facing my constituents is affordable housing. Many residents in District 3 are getting displaced due to gentrification. As NPU J Chair and as the president of Dixie Hills Civic Club, I helped bring over 600 affordable housing units to the Dixie Hills neighborhood. By collaborating with developers, residents, and government officials I have been able to bring solutions to help our legacy residents and renters in our district.
How do you define “affordability” in housing and what is a specific tactic you would use to improve it?
I would define affordable simply as this: does the average resident or family have enough monthly income to rent or purchase a house or apartment and then still have money left for other necessities like food, clothing, medicines, utilities, etc. I supportive of the city using public land to create affordable homes and I will champion the city continuing to do that when I’m office. Specifically, I will support legislation to make sure that legacy residents and affordable home builders, like Habitat for Humanity, are first to receive public land to build homes.
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?
Transparency is key for any organization to thrive and be seen as trustworthy. I plan regularly communicating with my constituents about what I’m doing as a council person by regularly attending NPU meetings, meeting with citizens, and creating a monthly newsletter. I believe that being honest and transparent about what I’m doing on a daily basis, trust will begin to be restored among the citizens in District 3.
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?
As policy-makers we need to be less responsive and more proactive. We need to always be thinking about preparing for the unknown. We need to be listening to the people that we represent so we can create solutions for the root causes of the problems in our society.
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?
Our planning process should be bottom-up from communities and neighborhoods. As NPU Chair, I listened to residents and businesses both, but residents who live in the community have better understanding of what a community needs than a corporation or private group. Corporations should listen to the residents of the community before trying to make sweeping changes. I plan to give a greater voice to residents and neighborhood associations by implementing “a neighborhood walks program.” Just like I am canvassing now to tell people about my vision as city councilwoman, I will do the same with my staff to hear about the residents concerns and tell them what I’m doing to advocate for them . I also working with the NPUs to promote and market their meetings in order that more people in the communities and neighborhoods can participate.
Do you support the Atlanta public safety training center’s location on Key Road in DeKalb County? Why or why not?
Yes. Our officers need a state of the art place were that can train and be equipped to handle crime in our city. I hope that new facility provides mental health training, conflict resolution, and other resources to support our officers and bring holistic approach to deterring crime in the city.
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?
Major Collier. What I have learned from him is the problems with crime is much deeper than what you see on the media. We need a more holistic approach to fighting crime that involves tackling the inequalities in our school system; lack of economic development opportunities; and providing after-school programs.
What are some areas of opportunity for the mayor’s office to work in partnership with the Atlanta Public Schools superintendent and board?
I think we should collaborate on establishing a community center in District that serves residents, and particularly that focuses on empowering the students and families in District 3. APS and the mayor’s office should look into renovating the vacant schools in the city and turning them into community centers that are home to tutoring programs, youth sports and arts. This will deter our youth from getting involved in crime and investing their energy in areas where they can flourish.
Anything else that you want to share for voters who may be undecided?
I have the most experience serving District 3 than any other candidate. I have been an educator, a the chairwoman of NPU-J, and President of my neighborhood association. If want someone who has advocated for people and brought proven solutions, then please vote for Keona Jones for District 3 city council.
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