Stephon Ferguson is a communications professional who is also known for evocative recreations of the speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Atlanta City Council would be his first elected office. He spoke to Saporta Report via email.
Q: What’s your No. 1 concern for your district specifically?
A: Homelessness. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. It is directly related to the economy, education, employment and public safety. By effectively facing this challenge, we effectively resolve many challenges that plague District 2 and the city of Atlanta. At its core, everyone should have a place to live, food for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.
Q: What could you do as a Council member about that?
- Investing in resources that address the psychological and mental illnesses and addictions that often cause people to want to remain homeless because shelters and housing do not allow them to satisfy their drug addictions.
- Creating a Homelessness Task Force to provide recommendations for long-term solutions to the real housing problems and provide job training.
- Develop a system for rapid rehousing for those who have lost their homes. Working with the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency to help them get back on their feet.
- Partnering with faith-based organizations and streamlining efforts and increasing resources of funding, volunteers, social workers, psychologists, mentors, etc.
- Making sure funding allocated for housing is used in the most efficient and effective way.
- Getting more businesses involved in addressing homelessness.
Q: What’s a professional or personal accomplishment you’re proud of?
A: For the 20-plus years, residents living on Auburn Avenue from Boulevard to Howell streets have had to deal with parking issues. The area is home to the MLK National Historic Site that attracts one million visitors annually. Residents have no driveways and must compete with visitors for street-side parking space. Many of the residents find themselves having to park a block or two from their homes. Last year I canvassed the neighborhood and listened to the residents’ concerns. I wrote up a petition for Residential Parking and got signatures form the majority of the residents. I worked for several months with the city of Atlanta and beginning the first week in October, the Residential Parking signs will go up and enforcement will begin mid-October. This is an example of the kind of efforts I will continue to put forth as councilman for residents of District 2.
Q: What’s an uncomfortable truth the next Council needs to face?
A: That we have the greatest income disparity in the nation among major U.S. cities. Not enough is being done in the areas of affordable housing, homelessness and preventing seniors and longtime residents from being squeezed out of their home because of rising taxes.
Q: What’s something council has gotten right in the last four to eight years?
A: Renew Atlanta and the TSPLOST MARTA [sales tax] initiative, which will be instrumental to raising the equity of Atlanta’s transportation and infrastructure. Its commitment to transition to 100 percent renewable energy across all city operations by 2025 and the first city in the state of Georgia to commit to communitywide by 2035.
Q: What’s something Council has gotten wrong or failed to do in the last four to eight years?
A: The Council has failed to adequately address the issues of homelessness and affordable housing. While there have been efforts, they have been far from adequate. We need timely and stringent measures that will significantly increase affordable housing opportunities and get rid of homelessness.
Q: Bottom line, overall, why should people vote for you? What’s your pitch to the voters?
A: I am running for Atlanta City Council to ensure to every community, neighborhood, and family that The Dream Lives. The Dream Lives implies that we have the responsibility to continue the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King’s philosophy of love, nonviolence, peace, and unity to bring about positive change and create the beloved community. The Dream Lives demands that we have a progressive economy with the most skilled and educated workforce, safe, clean, vibrant communities and neighborhoods and investments in growing industries like technology, research, and clean green energy. I am running to help create more affordable housing, fight homelessness and stop the sad trend of seniors and longtime residents being squeezed out of their homes because of rising taxes, to remove the transportation roadblocks that often keep hard working families from their jobs, families and lives, and to promote civic engagement and partnerships so that collectively we can make Atlanta the best city it can possibly be. As a former sergeant in the United States Army, minister, journalist and author, I want to take this breadth of experience and leadership to City Hall to always ensure that The Dream Lives.
I am the only District 2 candidate who has served this nation, serving honorably as a Sergeant in the US Army. I have the experience and leadership to both take commands as a servant to the citizens and give commands as a leader and representative of the people. As a minister, my rapport with pastors and faith leaders will prove vital as we work together to make District 2 a district of prosperity, diversity, and exceptionalism and create the beloved community. I present fresh ideas, concepts and solutions, having worked closely with leaders for other areas. I am a graduate of District 2’s Georgia State University and have a daughter who is a Junior at GSU. I both work and have received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for the past three years for volunteering more than 550 hours annually — in District 2. I am the most committed, dedicated and experienced District 2 candidate.