Michael Julian Bond (incumbent) is running for Atlanta City Council Post 1 At Large.
Candidate website: Michael Julian Bond
What is your current job (include the name of your employer) and list any significant memberships in public service organizations?
Self-employed Graphic Artist; American Diabetes Association; Atlanta-Metro YMCA; NAABAR Temple #128; NAACP; St. James #4-Prince Hall Lodge; Westside Future Fund Board
What is the biggest issue facing your constituents and why are you the best candidate to address it?
Public Safety is the biggest issue facing Atlantans. As a sworn public safety officer and chair of the City’s Public Safety & Legal Administration Committee, I have extensive, practical knowledge of public safety operations. I authored effective public safety bills including compensation, vehicle fleet financing, and renovation and building of facilities including zone headquarters, mini-precincts and fire stations. I also sponsored $2 million for adult reentry programs to divert persons detained on low-level offenses with substance abuse or mental disorders to treatment services.
How do you define “affordability” in housing and what is a specific tactic you would use to improve it?
I consider housing affordability less than 30% of monthly gross income. Given the rising costs of before taxes medical deductions, this might be more accurate at net income. I am currently working to improve affordability for renters by amending the City’s definition of rent to include monthly utilities-aligning with HUD.
City Hall has been dogged by an apparently ongoing federal investigation involving accusations of corruption in the previous mayoral administration. What do you see as the role of the City Council in holding the Administration accountable and in helping restore public trust on matters of staff spending and contract procurement?
It is the Council’s role to exercise oversight. Accordingly, I have authored/co-authored bills that established the City Auditor, Inspector General and the current configuration of Board of Ethics. I have also cosigned spending control bills in recent years.
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?
Both starkly demonstrated that government must always approach its work by putting the well-being of the community first in all considerations.
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?
Planning should always be a shared, collaborative process between the community and the City. The City has an obligation, per State law, to plan and must do so hand-in-hand with the communities the City represents. I would incorporate approvals and amendments to the Community Development Plan at the NPU level.
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 many public safety experts who advise me on public safety including several former Atlanta Police chiefs. Law enforcement must always be in partnership with the community is their highest advice and counsel. They have also always shared their concern for helping youth to be nurtured in a productive way, especially between 3pm-8pm.
What are some areas of opportunity for the Atlanta City Council to work in partnership with the Atlanta Public Schools superintendent and board?
There is opportunity to expand the City Council-APS Joint Committee for the City to partner with APS on after-school and year-round programming at the City’s recreational centers; internships; and public-private partnerships to help youth with entrepreneurial initiatives, STEM learning and apprenticeships.
Anything else that you want to share for voters who may be undecided?
As your citywide representative, I have worked to advance the quality of life for all Atlantans. I have focused on public safety, affordable housing and sustainability issues: $50 million Homeless Opportunity Project; Westside Tax Abatement; caps on annually adjusted homesteaded property values at 3 percent; citizens-version of proposed new Tree Ordinance; Cook and Westside Parks; and pedestrian safety improvements. We have made progress, but have more to do to create greater opportunities for many hardworking residents and families, and I am committed to finishing the job.
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