Natalyn M Archibong is in the runoff for Atlanta City Council President.
Candidate website: www.archibongforatl.com
What makes your policy on public safety different and better than your opponent’s?
The difference is I have worked with constituents and the police department to address public safety concerns. Through my leadership, communities have received increased lighting, strategically placed security cameras, and the increased presence of police officers in the neighborhoods. I have worked directly with neighbors and zone commanders to strengthen community-oriented policing and have supported neighborhood security patrols. For the past 19 years my staff has included a retired police officer who serves as a public safety liaison between the police and the community. My public safety policy includes improving police morale by ensuring due process in all disciplinary decisions and ensuring we have a competitive pension plan and competitive salaries. We must allocate additional resources to address mental health, and other situations where a non-emergency response would be appropriate. We must work with regional partners and social service agencies to address the underlying causes of crime.
Why are you the better candidate to address the proposal for Buckhead cityhood?
I am an experienced legislator who is well-versed in the statutory formalities involved in the annexation process. Thus, I will more quickly appreciate the complexities of de-annexation. I have vastly more experience working with other elected officials on complex and sensitive issues than my opponent. I also know that it is imperative for the Mayor and the City Council to be in complete alignment on our lobbying efforts at the capital. It would be a huge mistake to lobby other elected officials outside of a coordinated effort. Those who are seeking Buckhead cityhood, have focused on crime and complaints about other city services. In a post-covid era, city service delivery will improve when city hall reopens, and our employees will not be impacted by Covid-19. Regarding crime, a new mayor, council and council president will work hard to meet the challenge of reducing crime throughout our city – including Buckhead.
Why are you the better choice to improve infrastructure and city services?
I have hands-on experience working to improve city services. Recently, I urged the Commissioner of Watershed Management to conduct an inventory of missing, broken and misaligned water meter covers. As a result of my request, the Commissioner learned that many of the current covers are made of inferior materials. New covers have been ordered to replace all defective covers on a citywide basis. I know how to identify a problem and how to work with the Department of purview to resolve the problem. And I know how to be vigilant throughout the process until the city service delivery issue is resolved. I have similar experience in working to improve the city’s infrastructure. I have direct experience working with AtlDOT and GDOT. For example, I secured over 1 million dollars in sidewalk improvements along Memorial Drive as the result of my working knowledge of city and state infrastructure projects.
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?
Following the 2018 cyber attack, the Council increased the city budget to include more funding for cybersecurity and increased security training for city employees. We must constantly update our training and security protocols to reduce our vulnerability to malware and other security breaches. Regarding health related emergencies, we should utilize our Chief Health Officer to constantly monitor the status of health in our city, county and state. We must work closely with the Centers for Disease Control to both anticipate and to prepare for the eventual next major emergency.
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?
Because well-established law has afforded free speech protections to adult businesses, our city cannot completely ban such operations. The city’s current zoning policy allows new adult businesses to operate in industrially zoned areas, subject to stated distance requirements and hours of operation. For lawfully operated grandfathered adult businesses, their licenses will continue to be valid and can be transferred to new operators. Zoning Enforcement officers must vigilantly conduct inspections to ensure existing adult businesses have not expanded their operations to unlawful ones. A license to operate an adult bookstore does not, for example, also allow for the operation of a mini adult movie theater. We must also ensure we have clear and enforceable definitions in our code. The definition of an adult bookstore is not the same as the definition for the operation an adult entertainment business. The clearer the definition, the greater our ability to enforce our laws.
Why are you the better candidate for this office, period?
I am the best candidate for the following reasons. I have served on every committee of city council and have chaired many. I understand that the council is a co-equal branch of government and have worked for 20 years to be an independent voice on the city council. I will not be naïve about the complexities of serving as council president over a body of 15 independently elected officials. I will work with members of the city council based upon mutual respect, my proven leadership and our common purpose of serving the citizens of Atlanta. I am running for City Council President to serve the body I deeply respect and to use my experience to serve the citizens of Atlanta. This is not a job for a novice. I have been elected 5 consecutive times and I have been endorsed by a majority of my fellow city councilmembers.