By Robert M. Sarwark
Where do you live in the district – which neighborhood?
What would you like to work on in the district if elected?
Like all the other candidates in the race, I love this district and feel privileged to call it home. However, we are facing some unique challenges that must be addressed to provide a safer, more prosperous, and more equitable Atlanta to call home.
For a city to thrive, it needs to be accessible. Investing in transportation means cleaner air, less congestion and more job and educational opportunities for people. I didn’t have a car for two years when I moved to Atlanta and relied on MARTA for transportation. That’s why I’m personally committed to additional investment in MARTA. With the “More MARTA” program, we have a huge opportunity to expand Atlanta transit and make our city cleaner and more connected.
I will work to expand our Transportation options and prioritize the safety of all Atlanta residents and that includes making our streets safer for pedestrians, bikers, and scooters. That also means working to ensure our city streets and sidewalks are 100% ADA compliant and safe for wheelchairs and strollers. We must also prioritize more, “Complete Streets,” projects throughout the city to safely accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, public transportation, and vehicle traffic in dedicated transit lanes.
Every resident of District 1 deserves the opportunity to afford good housing. I will lead the way to more affordable housing by expanding the use of underutilized public assets and fostering coordination between Atlanta’s housing agencies. I will work with Invest Atlanta and the Atlanta Housing Authority to identify underutilized city-owned property that can be identified and developed primarily for hard-working families and individuals making low or moderate incomes. The focus should also be on existing property that has adequate access to public transportation.
I will also prioritize working with nonprofit and private companies to expand and create more projects like the Haven at South Atlanta, which will provide affordable housing to families at 50-60% of Area Median Income.
I will address our public safety crisis and expand the (PAD) Policing Alternatives & Diversion Initiative to reduce the incarceration of individuals who need supportive services, like support from a mental health professional. I would also prioritize investing in Youth Violence Prevention Centers and working to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and private citizens through neighborhood-based initiatives and a focus on community policing. I will look to pragmatic evaluation of our law enforcement policies, addressing biases and disparities in policing while moving resources to the programs that need them the most.
I will also work to protect our long-time legacy homeowners and those on fixed incomes who cannot afford the rising costs of property taxes. I will use my business and marketing experience to make sure all residents are aware of the existing programs and the homestead exemptions that are available to them as homeowners and make sure they have assistance in taking advantage of these programs.
My other top priorities will be to make sure our schools are fully supported, we fully fund the arts, and that we cut the red tape for small businesses by easing the paperwork and regulations, making it easier to open and operate a business in Atlanta.