Some comments have been lightly edited for clarity.
Atlanta City Council District 11 would be Edith Ladipo’s first elected office.
Q: What is your No. 1 concern for your district?
A: My main concern is the disinvestment in the community, the deterioration and blighted conditions. All of these are intertwined with the issue of crime and the lack of enforcement of sanitation ordinances and building and housing code.
Q: What could you as Council member do about that? What are some of your policy ideas?
A: The policy idea really would be first of all, to ensure that all of the ordinances are strictly enforced. And to develop programs that can help and assist people, though a foundation or through set-aside program funding from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, to help people that are unable to maintain their homes because of sickness or because of their age or affliction.
Then the second thing is, once we absolutely prioritize the issues in the districts, in the neighborhoods, then we begin to look for opportunities to look for the community to seek funding through a trust fund to help people to help people maintain their properties. Setting up a cooperative program … for landscaping, for fixing their roofs, fixing their systems. The city doesn’t have the money and they really don’t have the resources to help people to really improve the quality of their communities and also to … mitigate the number of substandard housing and building units that are in the communities.
Now that they have not funded these programs to the greatest extent that’s now necessary, now these communities are really suffering. It’s going to take a while for us to really pull them back up and make them … up to standard in this district.
Q: Turning to Council, what is an uncomfortable truth the next Council will need to face?
A: I think the truth that nobody wants to face is that the city is not being good stewards of the public’s money. I think that’s going to be an uncomfortable truth for everyone. I think that putting the city on a very solid ground in terms of basic services, … they want to give away housing money to developers when we have houses in the neighborhoods that are deteriorating. They want to give money to … to contractors to do infrastructure improvements but yet they’re not doing development in those areas.
First of all the citizens deserve basic services, they need to live in standard housing. Council needs to address the issue of homelessness. No person should be on the street. There should not be anybody living in substandard conditions. There needs to be a way to put people back to work so that people can have a decent salary to do the things they need to do in order to sustain their life. I think that’s an uncomfortable truth for the city, because they are interested in planning for the future of the people that may come to Atlanta and not addressing the needs of the people that are already here.
Q: Looking at Council again, over the last four to eight years, what is something that Council has gotten right?
A: I think balancing the budget, ensuring that there is a surplus of funds. And I think the development idea is great, to improve the tax base. … I think that promoting development and having the surplus of funds, addressing the issue of retirement for employees, is something they have gotten right.
Q: Over the last four to eight years, what is something Council has either gotten wrong or failed to do?
A: I think affordability, in terms of housing, in terms of transportation, child care. All of those things that help to reduce the poverty in Atlanta. And also having comprehensive workforce development training and innovative ideas that address future jobs and the future job market, I don’t think that they have done a very good job of that. And of course homelessness, they have not really addressed that sufficiently, reduced the number of homeless people on the street.
Q: Overall, bottom line, why should people vote for you, what’s your pitch to the voters?
A: My pitch to the voters is that No. 1, I’m very qualified, I’m the best-qualified person in the race. I have been in the community for 40 years and I know the community, I know the issues. The other issue that I think the community would really be interested in is my experience at every level of government. I have worked in the school system and I am concerned about education, I’ve worked for the federal government and I’ve worked for a quasi-state [agency.] And I’m an expert at putting together partnerships and collaboratives with levels of public and private partnerships with institutions and getting things done for the community. That’s the kind of person that we really need to solve the problems we’re facing in District 11 and in the city.