Reporter’s Notebook: When will Mayor-elect Dickens visit Buckhead?
After a drawn-out and, at times, contentious municipal election cycle, Atlanta’s runoff races have come to a close. Here’s a list of the newly elected candidates:
Mayor: Andre Dickens
City Council President: Doug Shipman
City Council Post 3 At Large: Keisha Sean Waites
City Council District 1: Jason Winston
City Council District 3: Byron Amos
City Council District 4: Jason Dozier
City Council District 5: Liliana Bakhtiari
City Council District 12: Antonio Lewis
Board of Education Seat 7 At Large: Tamara Jones
Board of Education District 2: Aretta Baldon
On to more news from the week:
When will Mayor-elect Dickens visit Buckhead?
Mayor-elect Andre Dickens has made opposition to Buckhead cityhood a key issue, promising to listen to local concerns. But when will he make his first formal post-election appearance in that crucial neighborhood?
Likely no later than Jan. 26, and with a group involved in the cityhood opposition in tow.
That’s the date of the annual luncheon of the Buckhead Coalition, an influential, invitation-only group of civic and business leaders. The luncheon often features a speech from a newly-elected mayor or other political figure. But there’s extra political electricity to the 2022 edition, as the Coalition is one of the top opponents of cityhood. One of its members, attorney Linda Klein, co-chairs the anti-cityhood group the Committee for a United Atlanta (CUA).
Jim Durrett, the Coalition’s president and CEO, says Dickens “will definitely be there” and “has been invited to speak.”
The CUA itself has invited Dickens to a $1,000-per-person fundraiser in Buckhead Dec. 8, though it could not immediately confirm whether he has accepted. The fundraiser’s hosts include a long list of local and citywide power brokers, such as Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta United sports teams; Matt Bronfman, principal and CEO of Jamestown, the real estate company behind Ponce City Market and Buckhead Village District; and Sheffield Hale, president and CEO of the Buckhead-based Atlanta History Center.
The Dickens campaign did not respond to a question about Buckhead event invitations, although he did make a brief stop at Fulton County’s Buckhead Library as part of a post-election thank-you tour.
The pro-cityhood Buckhead City Committee has issued no public invitations to Dickens and seems unlikely to, with CEO and chairman Bill White previously mocking him as soft on crime by saying locals don’t “want the ‘Dickens’ scared out of us.” In an Election Night statement Nov. 30, White said, “We congratulate Mayor-elect Andre Dickens and we look forward to working with him to ensure a smooth transition for Buckhead City as we make our future sister cities safe and prosperous!”
Incumbent Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had made few Buckhead appearances during her term, a political miscalculation that helped to fuel the cityhood sentiment. In 2018, she made one of her first major speeches at the Coalition annual luncheon, where political unity was a theme and attendees received glass sculptures of a handshake bearing the phrase “Atlanta Together.” She and her cabinet returned in early 2019 for a town hall at the Atlanta History Center, where they were strongly criticized on crime and other issues. Bottoms rarely made official appearances in Buckhead after that, returning earlier this year for some political farewells as a lame duck.
— John Ruch
Stacey Abrams announces second run for Governor
Stacey Abrams, a previous candidate for governor and founder of voting rights group Fair Fight Action, has announced a second run for Georgia’s gubernatorial seat.
Abrams and other qualified candidates will run against Governor Brian Kemp, who announced his bid for re-election over the summer.
She posted a campaign announcement video on Twitter accompanied with the caption, “I’m running for Governor because opportunity in our state shouldn’t be determined by zip code, background or access to power.”
Abrams gained national attention following her unsuccessful campaign for Governor in 2018, losing to Kemp by only 1.4 percentage points, which the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted was the closest Georgia gubernatorial race in decades.
Abrams cited voter suppression as a reason for her defeat, and pointed out that Kemp was simultaneously running a campaign and overseeing the election as Secretary of State. Needless to say, many eyes will be on this race.
Election Day for Georgia’s gubernatorial race is Nov. 8, 2022.
— Hannah E. Jones
Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. reports update on affordable housing
The Atlanta BeltLine’s report Tuesday on affordable housing painted a rosy picture by combining two categories of units.
More than 4,000 units of affordable housing have been built or preserved along and near the BeltLine, according to Clyde Higgs, president and CEO of the city entity created to oversee the project, Atlanta BeltLine Inc. Higgs spoke to the Atlanta City Council’s Community Development and Human Services Committee.
This figure, of 4,000-plus, suggests the BeltLine is well on its way to providing 5,600 affordable dwellings by 2030. The 5,600 units are one of the public benefits city taxpayers are to receive in exchange for agreeing to use all the property taxes generated by new developments along the BeltLine to help pay for the BeltLine’s public amenities.
The figure of 4,000-plus includes units that count toward the goal of 5,600 units, plus those built near the BeltLine that don’t count toward the goal.
Higgs said more than 2,500 units of affordable housing have been built in the BeltLine Tax Allocation District. These units count toward the goal of 5,600 affordable dwellings. Higgs said 1,700 affordable units were “created generally near the BeltLine but not necessarily in the specific tax allocation district.”
— David Pendered
Wake up and smell the hot chocolate
For real-deal holiday enthusiasts, the day after Thanksgiving marks the start of the festivities — like playing “Elf” on repeat, stringing lights all over the house and baking too many cookies.
If you’re looking to get into the holiday spirit, look no further. And if you’re not, well, we all need a little extra cheer after nearly two years in a pandemic.
See the lights
Watch it live
Happy holidays, y’all!
— Hannah E. Jones
Atlanta Police Foundation open third At-Promise Center
On Thursday, Dec. 2, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, city officials and community partners joined a ribbon-cutting of the Atlanta Police Foundation’s third At-Promise Center in Southwest Atlanta.
The Truist Andrew & Walter Young Family At-Promise Center offers services to address residents’ needs related to many aspects of life, including education, recreation, mental wellbeing and workforce training.
“Our At-Promise Centers are a safe place where families and at-risk youth are able to have positive interactions with our officers while also receiving the resources and support that they need to have better life outcomes,” Mayor Bottoms said in a press release.
— Hannah E. Jones
City of Refuge celebrates first graduating class after $5.4 million grant
City of Refuge’s first web development class for the Tech Transformation Academy is graduating on Dec. 7.
City of Refuge, stationed in the city’s Westside where nearly 40 percent of residents live below the poverty line, provides programs to help people in crisis, cover basic needs and offer financial literacy and job training.
The organization received a $5.4 million grant from the Department of Labor for the Academy, which jump started a tech program focused on web development and cybersecurity.
The 19 web development graduates, the program’s first graduating class, are now on the job hunt, and one student landed a full-time job during the program.
City of Refuge plans to use the grant to train 280 people over the next four years.
— Hannah E. Jones
Ernst & Young names founder of disruptor in nurse staffing a national Entrepreneur Of The Year
The founder of an Atlanta staffing company that has disrupted the business of providing short-term nursing placements has been named an Entrepreneur Of The Year 2021 National Award Winner, by Ernst & Young.
Cherie Kloss, founder and CEO of SnapNurse, was recognized for building a company that fills short-term nursing vacancies in less than 48 hours rather than the two-week norm, according to an EY statement. In accepting the award, Kloss cited SnapNurse’s work with healthcare facilities during the pandemic, and noted that age is not a barrier to a good idea:
“I would like to use this moment of recognition to take the spotlight off myself and put it on the 25,000 nurses we deployed during the pandemic who cared for critically ill patients…” Kloss said. “I started this company when I was 49. It’s never too late if you have an idea and the courage to start. We grew this company from a tiny startup to the largest healthcare staffing platform in less than three years.”
— David Pendered
Atlanta nonprofits awarded $200,000 grant from Bank of America
Bank of America has selected two Atlanta nonprofits for its Neighborhood Builders program. The Bank chose Ser Familia, an organization geared toward supporting Latino residents, and economic prosperity group Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative (AWBI) for their work addressing the region’s basic needs and economic mobility.
The program pledges $22.1 million to 142 awardees nationwide, with each nonprofit receiving a $200,000 grant over two years and leadership training for the executive director.
“The Neighborhood Builders award provides an incredible opportunity to expand AWBI’s efforts to address the intersectionality of our work and the ways wealth, or the lack thereof, intersects with one’s ability to be free across all systems,” AWBI’s Executive Director Latresa McLawhorn Ryan said in a press release. “This leadership development experience and opportunity to develop a deeper partnership with Bank of America will help us broaden our capacity to better serve the Black-owned businesses and organizations that are the lifeline of our small business ecosystem.”
Thirty-six Atlanta nonprofits have participated in the program, receiving investments totaling $7.2 million.
— Hannah E. Jones