Over the weekend, two more candidates responded to my emailed questions. I’m posting their responses here, again without comment:
First: Aaron Watson
thanks for your questions. I have attached brief answers to your questions below. I would love to meet you at one of our upcoming meet and greets to discuss further.
I will be at atkins park bar and restaurant tomorrow 7-8:30PM
Stone soup kitchen thursday 9-10AM
or feel free to come by any friday afternoon 4-6 for wine down with Aaron.
Financial stability/recovery: What programs do you plan to begin, expand, or get rid of right off the bat to get the city back on its feet again financially?
To start, the city should identify redundant assets and combine or eliminate redundant services among city entities and between overlapping municipalities. For example, selling the city jail to the county would free up millions in operating expenses. Alternatively, better collaborating with the school system over assets like recreation centers could providing more comprehensive services to young people and seniors and save money.
Importantly, the city must reform its pension programs. We spend 20% of the operating budget funding the City’s three major pension programs. I have successfully helped negotiate pension reform before as President of the school board, and I know we can do it again.
We can improve transparency and efficiency by implementing a zero based budget, which would force department heads justify every dollar and every staffer they employ.
Crime. Specifically how does the candidate plan to address the officer shortage, the broken 911 system, Firehouse closings, the revolving door of the justice system, the rash of escalating crime, and the broken juvenile code.
We should increase our police force strength through improved recruiting and better officer retention. We must more aggressively recruit qualified professionals committed to a career on the police force. The change should start with higher base salaries to bring Atlanta police officers and fire fighters into the top-ranks of our region for compensation. We should also try to improve the incredibly low 21 percent residency rate among Atlanta police officers living in the city.
To ensure that emergency response works for all of our citizens the City should more fully staff our 911 operations and track response time from the time an emergency is called in. Further, we have the technology to monitor trends, and we should adjust patrols frequently to increase response time and decrease blackouts in high crime areas and during times when more crimes are committed.
It’s worth remembering that over the long term, quality education, good jobs, and strong communities can do more to improve public safety than even the most effective policing. The City should daily engage our young people by working with schools and existing youth service organizations to maximize the impact of programs that build students’ social and academic skills.
Between public schooling, publicly subsidized housing, Parks and Recreation, and the justice system, we spend a significant amount on young people already. By coordinating and deploying the resources of the City in housing, parks, and recreation centers with public schools and after school programs, we can provide social infrastructure and opportunity in the unstructured hours of a youth’s day.
Alternate transportation What is the candidate’s stance on improving and increasing choices and safety for bikers, pedestrians and marta riders?
I am a cyclist and a parent, so I highly value safe and accessible transportation that does not require a car. I think that beltline development will provide options for pedestrian, cycle, and mass transportation, and I will continue to strongly advocate for Beltline growth. However, in our budget constrained environment, I think there are several inexpensive
Infill What is the candidate’s stance on infill, both residential and cmmercial. What is their stance on live/work/play and other planned communities.
I think increasing density with commercial and residential infill improves the effectiveness of mass transportation and incentivizes more people to live in town and move around without cars. This makes economic sense as it would grow the tax base, and environmental sense. I have an office in edgewood in a multiuse community and I see the potential to make whole sections of Atlanta active 24 hours a day.
Greenspace How does the candidate plan to protect and expand public greenspaces, what is the policy on allowing developers to clear cut?
I have worked on the board of the Piedmont Park Conservancy to improve and expand intown green space, and I continue to advocate for increased greenspace through parks on the beltline and through smart growth. When it comes to development, I think we should be careful to protect old growth trees, and we should continue to encourage new plantings where trees are cut down for development.
Urban homesteading What is the candidate’s stance concerning existing regulations re: chicken keeping, rainwater harvesting, beekeeping, guerrilla gardening, community gardens and regulating farmer’s markets. How does the candidate plan to encourage these green practices in the future?