APN Interview with Clarence Blalock, District 1 Candidate for Atlanta City Council
(APN) ATLANTA — With the Atlanta City Council District 1 race wide open following the announced retirement of incumbent Councilwoman Carla Smith (District 1), several political newcomers have entered the race, including Clarence Blalock.
Prior to Smith’s announcement, Blalock told Atlanta Progressive News that he’s been “disappointed with current [District 1] representation for a while now.”
“I‘m running to offer District 1 voters a dynamic voice and robust representation. I want to actively listen to my constituents and represent them and their concerns,” Blalock said.
“I am not beholden to developers, attorneys, or a Mayor. I believe in Atlanta, but this is a troubled city. I’m asking for four years to show I can put in the hard work to put Atlanta and District 1 on course for a better future.”
“I worked for the cities of Smyrna, Forest Park, and Covington. In Smyrna and Covington, I was a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) analyst. Making maps on computers, you work with all these different departments – fire, police, public works, planning. They all need maps. In Forest Park, I was the deputy director of the Planning Dept.; I handled code enforcement,” Blalock said.
“I have a good mix of experience working with different city departments and can find fresh ideas to improve constituent services in Atlanta. I understand how things work on the inside.”
Blalock currently runs a GIS mapping contracting business.
He considers affordable housing, transportation, and environmental protection to be District 1’s top priority issues.
“We’re replacing housing stock that once was one hundred percent affordable with fifteen percent affordability. That’s a problem,” Blalock said.
With a Master’s degree in Environmental Science, Blalock is a strong proponent for protecting Atlanta’s tree canopy, watershed, and greenspace.
“We don’t have to trade the environment for development,” he said.
“Atlanta’s tree canopy is critical to prevent flooding, mitigating urban heat island effects, and improving our quality of life,” he said [sic].
Blalock tells APN that he was opposed to a parking deck expansion in Grant Park in connection with the expansion of Zoo Atlanta.
Many community members opposed the project because of the impact on the City’s tree canopy. Community members started a nonprofit organization called Save the Trees of Grant Park.
The organization fought the project with the Atlanta Tree Conservation Commission, and further in Fulton County Superior Court, ultimately settling with the City of Atlanta. The settlement resulted in ten trees being saved.
131 mature trees were slated for removal for the project, and most of those trees ultimately came down. However, new trees were planted to mitigate the impact.
“A tree that’s like sixty or seventy years old, you can’t just put something else there, it’s not an equal exchange. The ones on the edges of the parking lot were quality trees. The replacement trees were not the same quality. Most of those trees were in a gator bag, the diameter of the tree isn’t the same, the foliage isn’t the same,” Blalock said.
“If they say they’re going to replace the trees, it’ll take sixty or seventy years to replace,” he said.
Blalock has also worked with the Save The Old Atlanta Prison Farm Organization for several years to preserve what is said to be the “largest greenspace inside the perimeter.”
As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, other candidates for the District 1 seat include Kelly-Jeanne Lee, Jason Winston, and Nathan Clubb.
APN has reached out to Lee. APN will be reaching out to Winston and Clubb, both of whom just entered the race following Smith’s announcement.
Councilwoman Smith’s aide, Sheryl Bennett, has not declared, nor did she return a voicemail left by APN.
Mo Ivory, who told APN she might be running again following her 2017 challenge to Smith, has not announced. She neither wound down her 2017 campaign, however; nor has she filed campaign finance disclosures for the last four years.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2021)