Social media handle: Instagram
Party affiliation: Municipal elections in Decatur are non-partisan
What are the three most pressing issues you believe your city faces, and how will you address them? What people or entities will you enlist to get these things done?
I think we cannot overlook that we continue to operate in a pandemic. The city of Decatur, the City Schools of Decatur and the entire community -both residents and businesses- continue to focus on extraordinary measures to keep our community healthy and viable. Our most recently adopted 2020 Strategic Plan points to our top priorities: considering our decisions, projects and actions through a lens of Racial Equity and Inclusion and considering Climate Action strategies as we seek to meet goals. Increasing the supply of Affordable Housing is a top priority. We are partnering with the Decatur Housing Authority and have approved the first multi-family development that is subject to our Inclusionary Housing Ordinance. The city has also established the Decatur Land Trust Board that receives staff support from the city’s Affordable Housing Fellow and is seeking its 501c3 status.
The city is partnering with Southface to develop, with community input, a Clean Energy Plan. Once this is completed and action steps are outlined, Decatur will begin implementation.
How much money did your city receive from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and how much has been spent so far? How are you using the funds to aid residents and mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic? What efforts have you been able to fund that the city didn’t previously have resources for?
The City of Decatur has received $4,797,910 (1/2 of funds). The City Commission has approved funding for:
- $25,000 for upgrades to Court Technology
- $125,000 for Covid testing, supplies and PPE equipment for employment testing (through June 30, 2022)
- Final interim Treasury rules have just been issued and the City will be considering other projects to bring forward for consideration in the near future, including affordable housing initiatives, stormwater infrastructure, and home repair and insulation projects to keep seniors in their homes. (This is called our MLK everyday project.)
- “Pandemic Pay” – see below*
Are you spending any of the ARP funds on rent relief? If so, how much?
We have not spent ARP funds on rent relief. City staff continues to check with residents and property owners of Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing units in the city to determine need.
What are the biggest challenges for recruitment and retention of police and other city personnel?
Similar to other cities, we have police officers who are retiring or are looking for positions with more regular hours. The city of Decatur also recruits officers who are community relations officers who enforce the law, and the Police Department wants to make sure the officers who are hired are the best fit for Decatur. We are actively researching potential strategies for recruitment/retention purposes.
Retirements continue to impact other city departments as well.
*Recognizing the work of the entire city staff and the toll of the pandemic, the city may consider an additional round of “pandemic pay” for all employees, using ARP funding.
Describe the challenges you face with reaching constituents and how you plan to connect and communicate with residents, including social media.
Decatur has a highly-engaged community. We use traditional methods of communication such as The Focus that is delivered via traditional mail service 10x per year. In addition, the city’s website and issue-related specific websites such as cleanenergydecaturga.com offer opportunities for public input and communication. The city has recently hired a media specialist to assist with social media, making sure that information is disseminated via social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Nextdoor. Announcements, opportunities to participate and have input, and events are a part of the strategies used to gather our community together.
I am readily accessible by email and send out newsletter updates “Keeping in Touch.”
Decatur is a rapidly growing city. What actions is your office taking to ensure the area is affordable for low-income residents and families?
I have briefly addressed this in another question. I also wanted to add that a Senior Homestead Tax exemption for a portion of school taxes was proposed by the City Schools of Decatur last year. The city of Decatur supported this measure that was supported by the DeKalb House and Senate delegation. A referendum to place this on the ballot was approved by the General Assembly and was then approved by the voters in November 2021. This measure will also assist seniors to stay in Decatur.
Describe a lesson you learned during your previous term(s) and how that knowledge will help guide your upcoming term.
I continue to learn from my colleagues on the City Commission and from the city staff. I also look for opportunities to learn from the broader community and serve on the Boards of the National Civic League, the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Georgia Municipal Association. Recognizing that it is okay that I have to say, “let me get back to you about that” on occasion, and recognizing that there are going to be decisions made that others legitimately have a differing point of view.
I think that being open to new ideas, listening, finding ways to open doors for difficult conversations, working together for the good of the community and finding ways to live, work and play together are strategies and ideals that I hope to continue.
Click here for an interactive map to learn more about Decatur. (Created by Maggie Lee)