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Doug Shipman names three new Atlanta City Council committee chairs

Atlanta City Council President presiding over a City Council meeting in 2022 (Special)

By Maria Saporta

Nuanced leadership changes on the Atlanta City Council were announced Monday by Atlanta City Council President Doug Shipman.

The major power of the president of the Atlanta City Council is being able to name the chairs of council committees and appoint the members to each of the committees.

In an embargoed interview before publicly announcing his decision after Monday’s City Council meeting, Shipman described how he wanted to balance continuity and change on Council.

Three of the seven committee chairs will be new in 2023 – Jason Winston will chair utilities, Matt Westmoreland will chair zoning and Liliani Bakhtiari will chair the Committee on Council.

Four committee chairs will stay in place – Amir Farokhi will continue to chair transportation, Jason Dozier will continue to chair community development, Dustin Hillis will continue to chair public safety and Alex Wan will continue to chair finance.

Doug Shipman during an Atlanta City Council meeting. (Special.)

“It works best when there are some changes,” Shipman said, explaining the reasoning behind his appointments. “I want to give people new experiences. And I’m excited to see three of the newer members are going to be serving as chairs this year.”

This past year, only one of the new council members – Dozier – chaired a committee. This year he’s joined by Winston and Bakhtiari.

But Shipman also sought to have experienced councilmembers tackle some of the more complex committees.

For example, Shipman thought Westmoreland would be good to chair zoning because a zoning rewrite process is underway. Westmoreland had served as vice chair of zoning.

“Transportation, public safety and finance are complex, so it made sense for those chairs to serve two years,” Shipman said. The same thinking applied to keeping Dozier as chair of community development. That role includes serving on the Invest Atlanta board and the Atlanta BeltLine board.

“It made sense for Jason to have a second year because he’s come through all that learning,” Shipman said. That committee also includes housing affordability, one of Mayor Andre Dickens’ top priorities.

Transportation needed continuity with the issues of More MARTA and infrastructure bonds. And continuity also was important for public safety as the city tackles issues of crime.

When juggling around the chairmanships and committee assignments, Shipman was careful to strike a balance on committees and to view his decisions as part of a four-year plan.

Doug Shipman and Andre Dickens ran into each other in Midtown on Nov. 30, 2021, while they were campaigning during the run-off election. (Special.)

“My general expectation is that chairs will serve no more than two years consecutively,” Shipman said. “There are 15 members of council, and 10 will have served as a chair over the first two years. That’s my general philosophy.”

Every council member serves on at least three committees, and several members serve on four committees

“There was at least one change among each of the committees,” Shipman said. “But no committee had more than three changes to ensure there was institutional knowledge.”

Shipman did acknowledge there will only be one woman chairing a committee this year – Bakhtiari. There were two women chairs this past year – Marci Overstreet at zoning and Andrea Boone who has chaired the Committee on Council.

Before making his appointments, Shipman asked each of the councilmembers for their preferences.

“I have met with every single council member one-on-one,” Shipman said. “I was able to give almost everyone their top choices when it comes to serving on committees. There’s always more interest in serving as a chair than there are committee chairs, which is good. I would rather have more interest in people wanting to serve in leadership positions than less.”

2023 Atlanta City Council Committee assignments:

Transportation:

  • Farokhi, chair
  • Amos
  • Lewis
  • Norwood
  • Overstreet
  • Waites
  • Wan

Community development:

  • Dozier, chair
  • Amos
  • Bakhtiari
  • Lewis
  • Waites
  • Westmoreland
  • Winston

Public safety:

  • Hillis, chair
  • Amos
  • Bond
  • Boone
  • Lewis
  • Norwood
  • Waites

Utilities:

  • Winston, chair
  • Bond
  • Boone
  • Dozier
  • Hillis
  • Lewis
  • Shook

Zoning:

  • Westmoreland, chair
  • Bakhtiari
  • Bond
  • Dozier
  • Farokhi
  • Norwood
  • Overstreet

Finance:

  • Wan, chair
  • Bakhtiari
  • Hillis
  • Overstreet
  • Shook
  • Westmoreland
  • Winston

Committee on Council:

  • Bakhtiari, chair
  • Amos
  • Boone
  • Farokhi
  • Shook
  • Wan
  • Winston
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Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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