Doug Shipman is in the runoff for Atlanta City Council President.
Candidate website: www.dougshipman.com
What makes your policy on public safety different and better than your opponent’s?
I have advocated for hiring back a fully budgeted police force and as we hire including mental health and domestic violence specialists as well as force wide training to develop different skills to respond to different situations. I have also clearly articulated how better incentives for college educated officers and ongoing education can lead to better recruiting and lower violence against citizens. I have also clearly outlined how moving forward on the success of the LIFT program addressing homelessness can be expanded using federal funding combined with private funding. I am the only candidate to offer these specific solutions.
Why are you the better candidate to address the proposal for Buckhead cityhood?
My experience building a consensus regarding the site, design and content of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights showcased my ability to work across the lines of race, age, religion and background. I have twice been a nonprofit CEO and once a for profit CEO and understand the challenges of public safety and city services on businesses and neighborhoods alike. I also have developed unique and long-standing relationships across the city including Buckhead that cross public and private sector stakeholders. My experiences combined with relationships will be uniquely helpful in both solving the challenges our city faces and convincing leaders and residents why Buckhead City won’t solve Buckhead’s problems. I believe addressing Buckhead’s concerns as well as the overall issue of cityhood will require a unique partnership with the next Mayor and I will bring a unique background to that partnership coming from outside city government.
Why are you the better choice to improve infrastructure and city services?
Atlanta has for many years shown an inability to effectively spend federal funds (HOPWA and Workforce training), to deploy special funds (TSPLOST for transportation) and deliver effective services and maintenance. We need fresh leadership that is willing to question processes, assumptions and approaches to get different outcomes.
I bring direct leadership experiences running major and complex organizations. The Woodruff Arts Center is a $100 organization that hosts 1 million visitors per year. It requires managing all types of service delivery and major maintenance as well as customer service and patron safety issues. I will bring finance, budgetary, HR and management expertise to the oversight role and function as well as partnership where appropriate to the Mayor to help identify and adopt improvements residents are so anxious to see from their city government.
In recent administrations, the City had a “resiliency” office and plan for coping with emergencies that totally failed to predict a pandemic or to prevent a cyber attack. What would you do differently to prepare Atlanta for such large-scale emergencies?
The only way to understand how good disaster preparedness plans are is to stress test them using outside third parties and to run potential scenarios and simulations. It is especially disappointing that Atlanta which is the home of several major universities as well as the CDC did not regularly undertake effective disaster simulations in order to understand potential weaknesses in planning preparedness. I would as City Council President advocate for funding these types of annual exercises, engaging outside experts and provide transparency as to the Administration’s preparation efforts. A major city should prepare far before a disaster and then reflect on what happened to better prepare in the future.
The City has a complex history with strip clubs and other adult entertainment businesses. Some, like the Clermont Lounge, have been lauded by the City, while action has been taken to shutter others, like Tokyo Valentino. What is adult businesses’ role in Atlanta culture and how should the City treat them in terms of zoning and licensing?
Adult businesses are ones that should be licensed in ways consistent with their function (i.e., Club or Restaurant or Bar) and more strictly zoned to be in commercial areas appropriate for traffic and timing associated with such businesses. I believe the overall code related to alcohol licensing needs a review and potential rewrite. We must also make sure that security and safety regulations are adhered to and enforced for the protection of workers and patrons alike.
Why are you the better candidate for this office, period?
After personally knocking on 4,000 doors and hosting over 3,000 voters at small events, it is clear Atlanta residents want fresh leadership that will provide new ideas and different approaches to take our city into the future. My executive leadership experiences combined with a proven record or bringing all parts of Atlanta together to accomplish big and important projects is exactly the leadership style and approach the city needs in this crucial moment. If we are to tackle our lingering problems, grow in inclusive ways and address the vast inequities that plague Atlanta, we must turn the page and move into the future together with new and better leadership. My experience showcases what is possible in Atlanta and not more of the same leadership we’ve had for decades.