Liliana Bakhtiari is in the runoff for Atlanta City Council District 5.
Candidate website: www.lilianaforatlanta.com
What makes your policy on public safety different and better than your opponent’s?
The biggest thing that sets my public safety plan apart is my holistic approach and understanding of the deep intersectionality regarding the various causes and roots of crime. Yes, we need to be sure that we have fully staffed public safety teams, and to diversify our response teams to include unarmed traffic officers and mental health professionals. And yes, we must support and fund Police Alternatives and Diversion. But what sets me apart is my commitment to a nuanced approach to community safety, including pathways to wealth building, bridging the income inequality gap, fighting to end the gender gap, affordable housing options, and career training. The best antidote to crime is providing housing and job security. By addressing these root causes, we can simultaneously prevent new crimes from happening, reduce incarceration rates, fight mass incarceration and differential incarceration rates, reduce recidivism during the process, increase employment numbers, increase economic growth, protect property values, increase contributions to our schools tax bases, make our neighborhoods safer and support our incredible public safety personnel.
Why are you the better choice to improve infrastructure and city services?
We cannot improve our city’s infrastructure and city services without first supporting our city employees who maintain our infrastructure and provide city services. I am honored to have the endorsement of both the Professional Association of City Employees and the American Federation of School, City, and Municipal Employees, and am familiar with the barriers to improvement that they so often encounter. As our next Councilmember, I will work to implement more systems of support and improve staffing numbers and morale for our city employees. Additionally, if we hope to improve our city’s infrastructure we will need intergovernmental cooperation between our city, county, state, and federal offices. I have working relationships with each of these branches, and will be prepared on day one for the bold and urgent action we need to update our infrastructure and streamline our city services.
Why are you the better candidate on housing affordability policy?
I’m our affordable housing candidate not just because I have firsthand experience with housing insecurity, but also because I’ve been on the ground working with our legacy residents and unsheltered populations for years. Through this experience, I’ve identified clear tactics for tackling our housing shortage, including strategic upzoning with a participatory planning process and directing impact fees towards an affordable housing fund. But affordability is not just about providing housing— it’s about helping people stay in their communities. As our next Councilmember, I’ll expand workforce housing so that first responders and city employees can afford to live in the communities they serve. I’ll advocate for a housing-first approach for our unsheltered population, and work to expand need-based tax exemptions that enable low-income and legacy residents to stay in their homes. My platform has earned me the endorsement of Neighbors for More Neighbors, along with affordable home builders and housing advocates across the city.
Why are you the better candidate for this office, period?
There are myriad urgent issues facing our city. Throughout my life, I’ve experienced many of them firsthand — from housing insecurity to workplace discrimination. These lived experiences will directly translate into intersectional policy that accounts for our most underrepresented, and make me a better elected official. Additionally, I’m the only candidate with both broad and deep intergovernmental and non-governmental relationships necessary to move us forward where we have so often stalled. My commitment to proactive solutions for our city has earned me the support of our Labor Community, County Commissioners, State Officials, current and former city leaders, and every organizational endorsement in this race. Collaboration is key as we seek to solve the complex challenges our city faces, and I will bring a spirit of bridge building and commitment to effective governance to the table unmatched by any other candidate. Together, we can build a more equitable and inclusive Atlanta.