What’s the biggest issue facing Atlanta right now? City Council candidates weigh in

Candidates for Atlanta City Council districts 7, 8, 9, 11 and 12 answer questions during a forum sponsored by the Committee for a Better Atlanta on Tuesday morning. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

Candidates for Atlanta City Council districts 7, 8, 9, 11 and 12 answer questions during a forum sponsored by the Committee for a Better Atlanta on Tuesday morning. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In addition to the high-profile race for Atlanta mayor, all 15 City Council seats will be on the ballot this fall.

The candidates for City Council appeared Tuesday during the first full in-person candidate forum of the season. The event was put on by the Committee for a Better Atlanta, a coalition of business and civic leaders that releases a platform every election year and ranks candidates running for local offices.

Discussions during the forum covered a wide range of topics, from economic development to customer service at City Hall to technology’s role in fighting crime.

During the panels, each candidate was asked what they thought was the primary issue facing their part of town. Here are all of the candidates’ responses, broken down by Council district:

District 1

Kelly-Jeanne Lee, a local teacher: Housing affordability and protecting legacy residents

Nathan Clubb, former president of South Atlantans for Neighborhood Development: Transportation

Clarence Blalock, contract business owner: The environment

Jason Winston, marketing consulting business owner: Public safety

District 1 covers much of southeast Atlanta. Longtime incumbent Councilwoman Carla Smith is not running for reelection, and a large field of candidates is running to succeed her.

District 2

Incumbent Councilman Amir Farokhi: Delivering basic public services

Farokhi is running for a second term representing a district that includes Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, Midtown and much of downtown. He has not drawn a challenger.

District 3

Brandon Graham, activist and entrepreneur: Crime

Councilman Antonio Brown, who currently represents the Westside district that includes Vine City and English Avenue, is running for mayor so his council seat is open.

District 4

Incumbent Councilwoman Cleta Winslow: Crime and youth services

Jason Dozier, neighborhood activist and veterans’ nonprofit leader: Displacement

Kim Scott, entrepreneur: Providing consistent city services

Larry Carter, U.S. Census Bureau employee and former educator: Collaboration and coalition

Rogelio Arcila, community organizer: Poverty

District 4 includes the neighborhoods of West End, downtown and Mechanicsville. Several candidates are challenging Winslow, who has served on the council for 27 years.

Candidates for Atlanta City Council districts 7, 8, 9, 11 and 12 answer questions during a forum sponsored by the Committee for a Better Atlanta on Tuesday morning, June 8, 2021 in Atlanta. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

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Credit: Ben Gray

District 5

Liliana Bahktiari, community and social justice advocate: Providing consistent city services

Samuel Bacote, chair of the Sadie G. Mays Rehabilitation Center and former Fulton Atlanta Land Bank Authority CEO: Impact of growth in District 5

Mandy Mahoney, president of the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance and former Atlanta Director of Sustainability: Affordable housing, infrastructure, public safety

Katie Kissel, Kirkwood Neighbors Organization president: Affordable housing

Doug Williams, neighborhood advocate: Government not working for everyone

A large field of candidates is running to represent the Eastside district, much of which is in DeKalb County, since current Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong is running for council president.

District 6

Incumbent Councilwoman Jennifer Ide: Delivering basic services

Ide is running for a second term; her district includes much of northeast Atlanta, including Lindbergh, Morningside and Virginia-Highlands.

District 7

Incumbent Councilman Howard Shook: Crime

Shook is running for a sixth representing Buckhead. No challenger has launched a campaign.

District 8

Nicholas Uppal: Safety and education

Uppal is running to replace J.P. Matzigkeit, who is not seeking reelection. Former councilwoman and mayoral candidate Mary Norwood is also running for the seat but she did not attend.

District 9

Incumbent Councilman Dustin Hillis: Public safety

Devin Barrington-Ward, social justice activist: Public safety, poverty and public infrastructure

District 9 covers northwest Atlanta, including the neighborhoods of Grove Park, Bolton and Underwood Hills.

District 10

No candidates for District 10, which includes much of southwest Atlanta, attended the forum. Councilwoman Andrea Boone is running for reelection.

District 11

Incumbent Councilwoman Marci Collier Overstreet: Public safety, city services and growth

Overstreet is running for a second term representing the southwest Atlanta district.

District 12

Incumbent Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd: Public safety and economic development

Jenné Shepherd, neighborhood advocate: Public safety

District 12 covers much of Atlanta’s southside.

At-large post 1

Incumbent Councilman Michael Julian Bond: Crime

Alfred Shivy Brooks, educator: Affordability and crime

Jereme Sharpe, independent consultant: Disorganization in city services and departments

Brandon Cory Goldberg, local attorney: Division in the city

Todd Gray, former Atlanta ethics board member: Crime

At-large post 2

Incumbent Councilman Matt Westmoreland: Income inequality, disparate health outcomes, racial and social justice, housing instability

At-large post 3

Jacki Labat, a small business owner and management consultant: Crime

Jodi Merriday, diversity and inclusion consultant: Equity

Ralph Long, former Georgia state representative, didn’t directly answer but said he wants to “bring the city in” and work closely with the Neighborhood Planning Units.

All of the at-large posts are citywide seats. Post 3 is currently held my Councilman Andre Dickens, who is running for mayor.

The Committee for a Better Atlanta also hosted forums Tuesday for the City Council president candidates, which include City Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong, former Woodruff Arts Center CEO Doug Shipman, former Atlanta Public Schools board chair Courtney English and retired Army officer Mike Russell. They mostly spoke about tackling public safety issues and working with other city leaders to have a productive legislative body.