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Kim Scott is running for Atlanta City Council District 4.
Candidate website: www.kimscottatl.com
Q: What is your current job (include the name of your employer) and list any significant memberships in public service organizations?
A: I currently serve as the GA WAND, Executive Director and the CEO for Intown Realty Development and Introduce a Girl to Engineering, Inc., CEO. My public service includes: Historic Atlanta, Board Member Atlanta Commercial Board of Realtors, Governmental Affairs Committee Member Women in Commercial Real Estate (CREW), Board Member Empire Board of Realtists (EBR) Development Council, Chair Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU-T), Immediate Past Chair Fulton County Homestead Exemption Taskforce, Taskforce Member West End Historic District Neighborhood, Past President NPU-T Zoning Committee, Past Chairperson
Q: What is the biggest issue facing your constituents and why are you the best candidate to address it?
A: It is evident in the deeply entrenched poverty in Atlanta that we have some policies and practices at the city level that contribute to the stagnated and depressed economic mobility of some of our citizens. If we want to tackle housing, crime, affordability, etc. in Atlanta, this is an opportunity for the city to step back and assess how and what we need to grow our City in a way that is beneficial to all our stakeholders. It is an opportunity to actually see all of our stakeholders and include them in the planning and strategy as well as an opportunity to stop, review, revise and revisit policies and practices that have intentionally and unintentionally harmed our most vulnerable populations. As a longtime leader who works both in the community and the business world, I am uniquely positioned to help Atlanta turn the corner on this issue.
Q: How do you define “affordability” in housing and what is a specific tactic you would use to improve it?
A: HUD actually defines affordability based on the area median income (AMI) which is 30% of a person’s income within a census tract. I believe this does not give a clear picture of affordability because there can be great disparity of incomes within a census tract causing the median to be higher and still unaffordable to a good number of residents in a particular area. I would like to see that 30% percent AMI be within a zip code. Only 25% of Atlanta’s population makes under 25,000 and if you push the data down to the zip code level the AMI would capture more of the population. I would start by amending the current housing affordability plan to include housing goals and initiatives for all ages, demographics and incomes including our unsheltered population. I also support a dedicated cabinet level position whose sole focus is housing.
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: It is vitally important that the public has trust in the procurement process. We should begin with an outside audit of the current procurement process. We should strengthen the current ethics training as well as review current software, internal policies and procedures, and technical support. The prequalification requirements, award and contracting process should be open and transparent. Additionally we should make sure there is ethical and transparent management of city resources by city employees. To ensure ethical and transparent management, the City should have an enhanced database that provides an up to date inventory of city owned property and tracking of city spending by departments, an integration between the city’s video and integration (VIC) and IT systems, and GPS tracking system on all city equipment, etc.
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: First, we should look at the issue of over policing and review and modify city ordinances as needed. Secondly, we can not always forecast what will happen in a year, but when issues have a great impact on the community, we should maintain open lines of communications, move as a body to respond to the needs and concerns of our constituency and leverage city resources and policies where we can and with all deliberate speed. Lastly, we need to leverage partnerships and create and maintain working relationships across local, state and federal levels.
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: Community input and communication is very important. I strongly believe in bringing the stakeholders to the table and being willing to hold difficult conversations with communities and business leaders. It is incumbent on the elected leaders to make sure that there is a transparent, informed and well communicated planning process. I also believe we can find a balance in planning that values and hears the voices of communities and neighborhoods and corporations and private groups while communicating the reason and rationale for decisions. Where I would start in the planning process is to make sure we hold true to the Goals for Continuing Engagement on page 29 of the City of Atlanta 2021 Comprehensive Plan released in July 2021.
Q: Do you support the Atlanta public safety training center’s location on Key Road in DeKalb County? Why or why not?
A: I support the concept but not the location. I believe the process to identify the public safety training center was flawed – from the identification of the site to the public comment. That the community did not support this overwhelmingly should cause our leaders to step back and reflect. For this reason I do not support the decision. I believe there is enough time to address the concerns raised by the community.
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 believe in listening to diverse opinions on topics. I discuss crime with my neighbors, the businesses and all the NPUs in District 4 as well as the officers assigned to District 4. From my work in the community, I have a great working relationship with the officers that work in my community. It offers me the ability to hear all sides and to see if there is opportunity or disconnect between perception and data. What I have learned is we all want a safe community and that public safety is the role and responsibility of each of us, not just our paid public safety officers. We have to work together to make our communities safer.
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: We should be full partners and have a collaborative relationship with Atlanta Public Schools (APS). Opportunity areas are (1) building citywide after school programs with STEAM offerings to serve APS students, (2) community programs focused on job creation, job readiness tools, access to speciality training, job fairs, and (3) development of internships with the City of Atlanta, Fortune 100 and 500 companies as well as Atlanta small businesses. Additionally, there is an opportunity to look at the streets and sidewalks used by students. Those areas should be passable, safe, and clean for our students who walk or ride bikes to school or walk to bus stops.
Q: Anything else that you want to share for voters who may be undecided?
A: The core of the work I do is to serve and advocate for the community. My experience as a City of Atlanta Engineer & Project Director working primarily on the flooding issues in Atlanta led me to my work in the community for the last 15 years. Here are a few accomplishments: -Worked on the Fulton County Homestead exemption taskforce to eliminate the need for seniors to reapply at ages 62, 65 and 70 for senior exemptions and increase income limits to allow eligible retired seniors to qualify for exemptions earlier. -Led a District 4 community and business partnership with NPU-T and APS to open an educational pod in the Washington school cluster to support students and parents impacted by Covid-19 school closings. -Developed a strong Community Benefits Agreement for the West End Mall redevelopment that included a local jobs preference program within a 2-5 mile radius of the redevelopment.
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