Kenny Hill is running for mayor of Atlanta.
Candidate website: https://electkennyhill.com/
What is your current job (include the name of your employer) and list any significant memberships in public service organizations?
President and Founder of The Launch Pad Foundation. Board member of The100 Black Men of America, South Metro Atlanta Chapter. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., GO Team Member L.P. Miles Elementary School
What is the biggest issue facing your constituents and why are you the best candidate to address it?
Crime is the issue that everyone is focusing on and rightly so, however, unity and cohesiveness in our city is the key to reaching permanent solutions to crime, affordable housing, economic disparities etc. Without coming together and working on solving these problems, we will only get temporary fixes that won’t last. Further, the protests that turned into riots and damage to our city will return if we don’t elect leadership that can build consensus. This is why I am running for mayor. I know many of the “leading” candidates and they are polarizing not unifying in their leadership style. I can bring our city together.
How do you define “affordability” in housing and what is a specific tactic you would use to improve it ?
There have been many discussions around which percentage of AMI that we should target for affordable housing. I own a multi-family property that houses three types of tenants. Formerly homeless single mothers and their children are sponsored by my nonprofit, The Launch Pad Foundation. Atlanta Housing Authority voucher program participants are the second tier of tenants, and market rate tenants are the third group of tenants. This mixed income approach works and provides housing for people below 50% AMI combined with programming to assist them in becoming candidates for better paying jobs. This type of “tactic” would work for developers and tenants alike.
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?
Unfortunately, the system is broken, and we are seeing the results of a broken system. Career politicians have become lax or at worse brazen in corrupt activities. This hurts all of us as citizens, but especially the disenfranchised and most vulnerable in our city. As mayor I would recruit staff with a history of integrity and conduct rigors background checks. I would have a zero-tolerance policy for all city employees and would create an anonymous hotline & website for any suspected fraudulent activities. For contracts and procurement, I would change the assignment of contracts to a lottery system. The procurement team would verify the qualifications of all vendors and that the price is acceptable for the scope of work. This format will level the playing field for vendors and eliminate dishonest behavior.
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?
The lessons were painful and plentiful. In terms of the Covid 19 response, we need a better working relationship with the governor’s office for issues of this magnitude. There will not always be agreement across the board but both offices should be able to work from a position of what is best for the citizens of the city and the state of Georgia. Protest, racial injustice, and police brutality are symptoms of the division within our city. We need leadership that will bring all groups together before we experience another flare up with more devastating consequences. Police use of force is a training and leadership issue. Under my administration the police will operate to serve and protect residents.
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 must include the community at the table from the onset of development conversations. We must also recognize that corporations and private groups fund a large portion of these types of projects. We must have a balance of community inclusion and corporate support. My 30-year career at The Home Depot allowed me to observe firsthand how a corporation could put people over profits and politics and remain an industry leader.
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 know several current and former high ranking law enforcement professionals. I rely on several viewpoints and data to gain understanding on issues. One fact that I’ve learned is the difficulty and expense of recruiting and training a single police officer. It’s amazing that each officer we place in service represents approximately a $100K investment. We must retain these valuable members of our public safety organization.
What are some areas of opportunity for the mayor’s office to work in partnership with the Atlanta Public Schools superintendent and board?
This relationship is key to the future leaders, community members and workforce of our city, as well as the opportunity to break the economic disparity cycle. It has been very unfortunate that for the past 12 years there has not been a more intentional partnership. We have allowed school property deeds and political posturing to distract us from the work of true leadership. My administration will partner to bring resources and support to the vision of Atlanta Public Schools for the benefit of every student and our city as a whole.
Describe how you envision Invest Atlanta operating under your administration. What changes, if any, would you implement?
Invest Atlanta has done some things very well. They help recruit companies to our city which brings jobs. I would like to see this critical organization focus more on small and medium sized business support. There needs to be more focus on supporting affordable housing from Invest Atlanta as well.
Do you support the Atlanta public safety training center’s location on Key Road in DeKalb County? Why or why not?
I support the end result, but not the way the process was handled. We need the training center to ensure the best opportunity to recruit, retain and train officers. The mayor’s office should work transparently with community NPU’s to share the vision for development in areas impacting them.
Explain your leadership style and how it would best serve the people of Atlanta.
A servant leader who thinks first- how can I serve the people and communities entrusted to my leadership? Additionally, I require this mindset of my leadership team and charge them to instill it throughout their areas of influence. Leading by example has been a hallmark of my life, since I was the eldest of seven siblings in a single parent household. Finally, I am results oriented. At the end of the day we are engaged and involved to achieve the goals and agreed upon results that we establish. This mindset will greatly benefit the employees of the city and the citizens we serve.
Anything else that you want to share for voters who may be undecided?
This election will have far reaching impact on the future of our city. The political infighting have delivered a broken system that cannot produce the results we need. Corruption, crime and career politicians go hand in hand. I’m the candidate who asks you to judge me by what I have already done, not what I promise on the campaign trail. Using my own resources, I have helped walk families from homelessness to sustainability. Over 200 APS students have been mentored and tutored through the programming my nonprofit developed. I have remodeled Atlanta police precincts during my 30 year Home Depot career and since my retirement. I’m the new kind of mayor that Atlanta needs.
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