APN Chat with Council Candidate, Michael Julian Bond
(APN) ATLANTA–We continue our series of interviews with citywide political candidates with former City Councilman Michael Julian Bond, 43, who is seeking the At-Large Post 1 seat. This seat is being vacated by Ceasar Mitchell, who is currently running for City Council President.
Michael Julian Bond is the son of Julian Bond, a noted civil rights leader.
Atlanta Progressive News broke the story that Bond was running for this seat on our blog at www.atlantaprogressiveblog.com, last month.
APN will also be bringing you an interview with Bond’s opponent, Clarence Turner, a political newcomer who has a compelling personal story. Stay tuned for more.
BOND’S POLITICAL HISTORY
“When I was 25, I first ran for State House with no support, no endorsements, and I lost by less than 100 votes, for [former State Rep.] Mable Thomas’s vacancy. That was in 1992.”
In Fall of 1993, Bond was first elected to the City Council of Atlanta, in what is now Councilman Ivory Young’s seat. His first term was from 1994 to 1998, and his second was from 1998 to the end of 2001, he said.
“I passed more legislation per term than anybody in the City’s history,” Bond said.
One piece of legislation Bond mentioned was a bill to say that liquor stores had to be a certain distance apart from each other. He noted this bill was overturned, but that, in the meantime, “we got rid of a lot of the bad ones,” in Bankhead area.
“We set up the West End TAD [Tax Allocation District], one of the oldest districts in terms of seniors. We focused on providing infrastructure in the District [including] the Washington Park pool and two others. I repaved Simpson Road for the first time in 40 years and repaved the sidewalks on Ashby for the first time in 50 years.”
“I believe I put forth a progressive agenda for Atlanta public works, safety, arts, and infrastructure. I worked with every committee member.”
“I’ve watched the present Council and seen huge mistakes, not seizing opportunities and not using the power available to them.”
“In 2001 I ran for Council President. I won citywide, but I didn’t have 50 plus 1 percent, and lost in a runoff to Cathy Woolard.”
Woolard then gave up her seat to run against [former US Rep.] Cynthia McKinney.
“In 2004, I lost in a run-off against Lisa Borders in a Special Election, less than 600 votes citywide.”
“In 2005, I ran against Ivory Young. The Mayor backed him solidly. He raised four times the normal amount, $160,000. He barely beat me by 30 votes. I attempted to contest the election because there were irregularities but I was unsuccessful.”
Bond criticized the current City Council for being too pro-developer throughout the interview with Atlanta Progressive News.
“The problem with the City government’s culture today, it’s too corporate, too much of a developer’s approach. It’s still supposed to be for the people, by the people, so you should have the people included.”
RE: PUBLIC HOUSING DEMOLITIONS
“They [the Mayor’s office] always go for wiping out Council oversight. This present Council [doesn’t] ever resist that tactic. I would’ve supported Council Member Moore [in seeking Council oversight of the demolition applications],” Bond said.
“This Council has a corporate-leaning insensitivity to people.”
“Nobody should live in substandard conditions. It wasn’t always safe, clean, and good. But in trying to do right, you shouldn’t permit smaller personal affronts to their [humanity] because they’re not as economically strong as you are. You have to treat everyone the same based on socioeconomic status. Would they have had to remodel Buckhead, would they have taken the same approach to waive personal rights? I don’t think so.”
“It was like an internal trail of tears. We could have conceivably taken people in Bowen Homes and let them move into vacant housing. Instead, we pushed them out of the City.”
RE: CITY BUDGET
“This is a very different Council in terms of being people-sensitive. That’s why they didn’t set the appropriate [property tax] millage rate last year.”
“The first priority is to care for the fiduciary [well-being] of the City. When the Mayor brings the budget, it’s your responsibility to look at the millage rate.”
“When they didn’t raise the millage rate, Standard and Poor lowered our bond rating, to a single A from a triple A, which is tantamount to bankruptcy. S&P said the economy is bad, collections are slow, and they specifically cited that the City Council failed to set an appropriate millage rate to ensure the operation of government.”
“I proposed a dedicated mill for public safety equipment needs to allow a fund to pay for this to free up the General Fund for salaries and pensions.”
RE: AFFORDABLE HOUSING
“I want affordable housing to reflect a standard that’s accurate of the City. Right now, they base it on Area Median Income. This should be based on the demographics of the City of Atlanta proper [not Greater Metropolitan Atlanta]. Then the eligibility for affordable housing should go up. The AMI in Atlanta [City of Atlanta] is $35,000.” [The AMI of Greater Atlanta is closer to $50,000.]
“You just have to pass a law to amend [the City’s definition]. We tried in 2001, but it fell short.”
“They want upper income people to come here because property taxes go up, but that’s not where the need is. The need is to help working families that are here living in the City right now.”
“The current housing policies and development pattern contributed to Atlanta being the number 3 city for vacant residential and the number 1 city for vacant commercial business.”
“What I would like to do is buy some of these vacant foreclosed properties for $1.”
“In 2001, I recommended turning the City’s old prison on Key Road in extreme Southeast Atlanta, into a homeless shelter. It was 60 to 100 acres and used to have a prison farm… we should’ve developed the Gateway Center there. You have to take individuals out of the environment they’re in, so they don’t fall into their old habits.”
“The Gateway Center was developed as a blow to the Task Force for the Homeless. It took all the money that was going to the Task Force.”
“The City has an obligation to support organizations that know what they’re doing.”
“I’ve been to Denver and Baltimore, where I saw light rail.”
“People are talking about the Beltline but it’s not gonna happen until 2025. Until they actually get money for transportation to lay tracks, speculation ought to be disallowed. It seems the Beltline is being planned in reverse, doing acquisition before tracks being laid.”
“In promoting the Beltline, that fuels speculation. People don’t need to be sold anymore. What we ought to be focusing on is getting transportation money to lay actual tracks to connect with MARTA. It ought to be a transportation plan, not a land development plan.”
About the author:
Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor for The Atlanta Progressive News and is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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