The issues of affordable housing, good paying jobs, sound economic development, quality public safety, transportation, sustainability and the environment, and infrastructure are all building blocks for the success and vitality of our community. In South Cobb, we realize how these topics are interrelated. As the next Commissioner for District 4, my plans are to tackle each issue with a focus on its overall impact to the next.
It is imperative that we all come together to develop solutions to address the crisis in our community that is Affordable Housing. As we wrestle with a severe shortage of affordable homes, this critical issue must be at the top of the minds of every stakeholder.
Seniors, low-income families, and people of color are impacted the most by the shortage. If they are able to find housing, it is frequently inadequate as families with small children are forced to live in unsafe, unhealthy, and unacceptable conditions.
As this plays out each day in our community, our elected officials do little or nothing. Our community wants solutions, not small talk that leads nowhere. We need to elect leaders, not ostriches, who choose to stick their heads in the sand on this issue.
Concerned about this issue and seeing no action, I called upon elected officials months ago to organize a summit on the important topic of affordable housing in our community. No one who claims to care about this issue has responded to my call. As the District 4 Commissioner, I will lead this charge. This Summit will be one of my first acts in office, bringing all the stakeholders together (elected officials, developers and builders, representatives from various impacted groups, and others) to the table to extract solid, practical, and viable solutions and opportunities to make homes affordable and accessible for our community. As I lead this effort, I will always put people before politics. We must:
- Produce affordable homes at a greater level to create healthy, accessible, and sustainable neighborhoods.
- Reserve a share of new development for affordable housing to support low and moderate-income residents.
- Create residential zones to increase housing options such as smaller lots, tiny homes, multifamily developments, and mixed-use developments.
- Preserve and maintain existing homes by investing, scheduling, and timely making improvements and repairs.
- Provide a tax credit to renters who pay most of their salaries to rent.
- Incentivize the building of market rate apartments.
- Work with various community leaders in the municipalities of South Cobb to share in resolving the affordable housing issues.
- Urge the federal government to work with local and state governments to make affordable housing a quality of life issue instead of a housing issue. Governments should be tasked with yearly improvement goals that they must meet and improvements they must make within their communities before federal dollars are disbursed for other issues.
I ask you, the voters, for your support and I ask you to hold me accountable to my pledge to take the lead on the endeavors to bring about more affordable housing in our community.
Our success in economic development will result in good paying jobs. Under my leadership, good economic development in South Cobb will be a priority throughout my tenure as Commissioner for District 4.
I will enthusiastically encourage more economic development targeted at South Cobb because sensible and strategic economic development and planned growth will usher in more companies that will provide a multitude of jobs for people within our community, which will then provide better wages and the relief residents seek to better support their families.
I will focus attention on retaining business and attracting new business by working in conjunction with other communities of South Cobb, the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, various business groups and other stakeholders to develop 21 century solutions and incentives to attract businesses.
I will lead the efforts in the County to create a land bank for the empty buildings in our community and then work with bankers, realtors, stakeholders and perspective businesses to fill these spaces with reasonable rents and an incentive plan for the first year or for multiple year commitments.
I will work with fellow Commissioners to develop a stronger, more robust, and more active economic development office to step up efforts in our community. We will develop an incentive package that makes South Cobb attractive and then direct County Staff to work with the state and Cobb Chamber of Commerce to increase their collective outreach to identify businesses who may be looking for the qualities that our community provides such as easy access to downtown Atlanta, the airport, and three major interstates. I will also ask staff to work with the State to develop a promotional plan that allows companies to know that South Cobb is open for business and has the welcome mat out for them.
Once we provide quality economic development in South Cobb, residents will be willing to stay in our community and spend their dollars in our community, which will ultimately benefit everyone in South Cobb.
Every person in Cobb County is concerned about public safety in one form or another, including the police officers, fire fighters, and other public safety officials that provide this service to us. Effective Community policing impacts us all in South Cobb directly or indirectly. I am committed to public safety and ensuring that we keep the officers that are trained in our community patrolling and providing public safety within our community, with better wages and benefits.
It is our obligation to provide members of the public safety community with continuous training, better equipment, and increased staffing levels that will aid them in being successful in what they do within our communities.
As Commissioner, I will work to identify more ways to create funding for public safety initiatives to reduce crime. I want to develop a greater and more effective policy that hires, trains, and deploys additional officers into the community to patrol and maintain order – which will help to reduce the anxiety the community feels about crime and safety. In addition, we must:
- Find and incorporate best practices related to the utilization of technology and security cameras to fight crime which will lead to a reduction in drug related crimes, violent crimes, and sexual assault.
- Develop more effective policies and tools to build trust within the communities they serve.
- Incentivize housing opportunities for all public employees, including public safety officials and schoolteachers, as they work in our community, but many cannot afford to reside in our community.
- Be willing to have difficult conversations and do the work necessary to break the burdens of distrust that will allow us to create a greater level of understanding of each other as we work together to build our better community.
Transit is a prudent and essential quality of life issue that is vital to the South Cobb community. To be most effective, transit must serve the people of our community. As we move forward in enhancing our transit plan, we must allow input from riders and the greater community on their needs. As the county continues to develop and scrutinize the latest comprehensive transit plan, South Cobb must be at the top of the list and residents of our communities must have a seat at the table in terms of coordination, collaboration, and education.
Our transit system must serve all Cobb County residents between population’s centers such as Public Service agencies, Cumberland Mall, Town Center Mall, Hospitals, area Colleges, the Braves Stadium, and the Battery.
We must develop a renewed commitment to transportation accessibility to help connect residents to the things that are most important to them such as work, home, grocery stores, church, and medical services. We must look at best practices to determine how best to incentivize residents to utilize mass transit and ride-share options. For existing bus stops, we must add shelters to more stops to protect riders from inclement weather.
Our community of South Cobb has suffered from deferred maintenance or no maintenance at all when it comes to roads, streets, sidewalks, and proper lighting. Without sidewalks, the most vulnerable members of our community, children and senior citizens, are forced to walk in the streets as cars zoom by. At night, some areas become danger zones as poor, or no lighting at all, creates life challenging hazards for pedestrians and drivers alike. As Commissioner, I will ensure that South Cobb is getting the same level of infrastructure services as the rest of Cobb and that deferred and ignored maintenance issues in our community are addressed once and for all.
ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY
We all have a moral responsibility and obligation to leave the world in the best condition possible for the next generation. To this end, as Commissioner, I will
- Lobby the members of the Board to align the actions taken by the County with environmentally sustainable practices.
- Attract businesses to our community that express and embrace sustainability.
- Not compromise our values around the environment, regulations, or processes as we encourage new companies to come to our community.
- Offer tax incentives to environmentally friendly businesses.
- Embrace and lead more recycling initiatives across Cobb.