Andre Dickens is in the runoff for mayor of Atlanta.
Candidate website: andreforatlanta.com
What makes your policy on public safety different and better than your opponent’s?
My SAFE Streets Atlanta plan can start to be implemented on day one, which is a significant difference. My public safety plan balances safety and justice. It is not only focused on hiring and training officers in 21st Century policing, but also on addressing the root causes of crime. In the first year we will hire 250 new police officers and train all officers on de-escalation tactics, racial sensitivity, and conflict resolution. We will hire specialists to address non-violent concerns and implement community policing to get officers out of their squad cars and understand the communities they serve. In addition, we will focus on modernizing the technology available to our officers and installing 10,000 new street lights throughout the city. This plan has been vetted by former police chiefs and is ready on day one.
Why are you the better candidate to address the proposal for Buckhead cityhood?
Buckhead wants what everyone wants: to feel safe, to feel heard, and to know their taxes are being used appropriately. I’ve been present in Buckhead and already had conversations with the community about their concerns. My SAFE Streets Atlanta plan is designed to keep all of Atlanta safe, and Buckhead will see the effects of that plan as well. Lastly, I will begin an audit of all city services to ensure that our service delivery is matching our service level agreement. Buckhead wants to know that their city government understands and has plans to address their concerns. My plans are ready to implement on day one.
Why are you the better choice to improve infrastructure and city services?
I’m an engineer and a problem solver. These are the types of problems that I have continually solved both in and out of City Hall. I’ve already begun the work to improve infrastructure in the city. When I saw that there were problems with our procurement and contracting I created the Atlanta Department of Transportation to streamline that process and get us back on track. We’ll continue to do more of the same when I am mayor. In addition, I have already committed to being data driven with our city services beginning with an audit of all of our constituent facing services. We have to use the technology available to make our services more efficient; we just have to choose to use those resources to make our city more effective.
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?
Modern problems require modern solutions. We cannot always predict the problems of the future, but what we can do is ensure that we are prepared to respond appropriately. That requires frequent training and simulation programs to prepare for situations in as close to real-life situations as possible. Resiliency is about implementing appropriate structures so that we can respond appropriately rather than attempting to predict every eventuality.
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?
These businesses have long been part of Atlanta’s culture and history, and we want to ensure that all small businesses have a level playing field. The issue surrounding these businesses is ensuring that the current rules are followed and equitably enforced. That requires education and understanding by the businesses and the city government. So long as the rules and conditions are followed, then we can all thrive together.
Why are you the better candidate for this office, period?
I am the candidate who is willing to put in the work necessary to move Atlanta forward. Every time I have seen a problem I’ve worked to find a solution. It’s easy to sit back and talk about the problems. It takes a true leader to roll up their sleeves, get to work, and find a way to vote “yes” to progress. I’m an engineer and a problem solver, so it’s in my nature to get into the weeds and find the best solution, which is what I’ve done over my past eight years on the city council. My plans are day one ready, but you need an experienced leader to implement them effectively. My full breadth of experiences, both in and out of city hall, has prepared me to lead this city into the future.