TRACEY AUSTIN PROFILE:
Tracey Austin said the Atlanta City Council’s District 6 representative needs to be more cognizant of children’s issues and, based on her experience, she’s the right person for the job.
Austin, who has a 6-year-old son whose name she did not want to disclose to protect his privacy, has spoken out on children’s programs to the media in the past and also said the city needs to be less wasteful.
“I feel like the residents of District 6 need someone who is ready and willing to work on their behalf to get things done more efficiently and more effectively,” said the 36-year-old, who is not married. “Moreover, I would like to see District 6 become a model district for safety and sustainability. I have a platform for that. I would also like to push my children’s initiative.
“Since January, I have been vocal about children’s issues, especially child safety, and have been on the news about it. It’s a quality-of-life initiative focused on children creating an environment that is safe for walking and biking. I also want to encourage the city to allocate more resources or prioritize more resources to settings with children, schools, parks, streets within the neighborhoods with a high number of children, looking at policies as it relates to public and private facilities that host our children for various events and activities.”
Austin has a bachelor’s degree in health sciences and a master’s degree in business administration, both from Howard University in Washington. She works as a self-employed NFL- and NBA-certified agent and also as a business consultant who manages the business development for nonprofits and businesses. She previously held jobs in the corporate sector for Eli Lilly and America Online.
Austin, a New York native, lived in Washington for 12 years and has resided in Atlanta for five. Though this is the first time she has run for public office, she said she has volunteered for the campaigns of members of Congress and President Barack Obama for the past 15 years while in Washington and Atlanta.
“I feel like I can better relate to all the residents in our district, particularly the parents, the moms who are of the working class as well as those who are entrepreneurial,” Austin said. “I have demonstrated over the past 15 years that I am dedicated to civic and social service through my volunteerism and my work with members of Congress and other elected officials.”
Her top three issues are safety, transportation and government services.
“Right now we’re just growing at such a rapid pace that we’re not [being smart about development]. I think we’re ranked fourth worst in the country in traffic congestion, according to the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, and it’s deterring some companies from coming in. As we’re growing in size, we need to be equally efficient in our government services. We’re getting a lot of complaints on responses to calls and the overall customer service.
“I am focused on urban sustainability. It will help us to begin to focus on functioning as a city more efficiently and as a result, it will save us valuable resources. I want us to focus on traffic solutions that are looking at green development, smart grid infrastructure, smart water management. We want to become one of the most urban sustainable cities in the country. That’s my goal.”
MIKE BOYLE PROFILE:
After spending years as a community activist, Mike Boyle said he is ready to fight for the issues he believes in as the District 6 member of the Atlanta City Council.
“I am an outsider running as a concerned citizen activist, and am not a career politician,” the 44-year-old said in an email.
Boyle, who has fought the city’s contract with ParkAtlanta, the organization that enforces parking rules, served as a St. Charles Avenue street captain in his Virginia-Highland neighborhood from 2007 to 2012. He is a 2011 graduate of the Atlanta Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy and has volunteered for several local organizations.
Boyle has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School. Formerly a “green energy developer with a large electric utility,” he said he is currently “conducting a search to buy, own and operate a small business together with a partner.”
Boyle said he is running for city council to “make city government more responsive to the community.”
“City council acts too much like a rubber stamp to the mayor’s agenda and would benefit from an independent voice,” Boyle said. “The particular catalyst was the ParkAtlanta contract. Together with others I have tracked this for several years now, speaking on behalf of the public at transportation committee meetings and leading a protest signature campaign.
“When I saw that city hall was only paying lip service to widespread public displeasure I decided to take the next step and run for office. My incumbent opponent in this race [Alex Wan] has failed to put forth a termination proposal despite having had four years to do so. He also voted yes [in 2012] to the so-called parking bill of rights, a superficial resolution intended to quell public anger over ParkAtlanta which mocked real reform.”
Boyle and his wife Priya have a 9-month-old daughter. He declined to provide his daughter’s name to protect her privacy. Boyle said his top three issues are parking, government surveillance and transparency.
“First, we must end this parking enforcement contract and install a new parking program more in keeping with the character of our neighborhoods and our city,” he said. “This aggressive company is bad for local business, bad for tourism and bad for our communities.
“Second, I have a concern over increasing government surveillance. The new [Operation Shield] Video Integration Center downtown is a local expression of this growing tendency, with our images likely being shared with state and federal security agencies, and it is evidence that Atlanta is becoming one of the country’s most ‘watched’ cities. Blanket surveillance of innocent people should not be a prerequisite to a public safety program but rather an exceptional tool with strongly defined boundaries and strong citizen oversight. My incumbent opponent didn’t show up for this controversial vote [in 2011].
“Third, transparency in city government. Transparency gives taxpayers greater understanding and trust that their dollars are being spent wisely. The ability to tap municipal debt markets to fund schools, roads and other public infrastructure is a powerful tool but also high octane, high octane in the sense that debt overhang is a form of latent, future taxation which occurs when issuance proceeds are not managed well. In particular, I want to see stronger financial oversight and evidence of cost controls with regard to the greenspace project known as the Beltline.”
ALEX WAN PROFILE:
Alex Wan is running for a second term on the Atlanta City Council to continue the work he has started.
“It’s really the same basic reasons I ran four years ago,” said Wan, 46. “I’ve always loved my community and loved my city but always felt we could be better. In 2009 the big issues at that point were the city’s financial situation. Public safety was another issue and economic development. Those were the things I ran on and the pledges I made to the voters. Fast forward four years. The city has really made a lot of progress on those fronts. Crime is down [12 to 15 percent in District 6]. But I don’t feel the work is done yet.
“As the economy turns around, we’re going to be having even more conversations about fiscal responsibility. Public safety is still a concern. My house was broken into in 2012, so I understand people’s perception of crime. [With] economic development, we’ve got to make sure we’re doing the right investments and we are really balancing the projects that come online with the needs of the community. It’s all the same theme but I want to continue to do the work I have been doing over the last four years.”
Wan, who is openly gay, lives in Morningside with his partner of eight years, Joe Bechely. He is the director of development at Emory University in DeKalb County and has a bachelor’s degree in engineering degree from Georgia Tech and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School.
“I think my experience, my education and my work experience as a former small business owner but also having worked in the nonprofit sector with a research university,” he said. “That combination of skills and experience is valuable to the city. I think also my track record. Four years ago I made pledges when I asked for people’s votes and delivered what I promised. I think that’s the leadership that sets me apart from my opponents. Also, the relationships I have built here. I grew up in Atlanta. The last four years on council, those relationships are going to be important in accomplishing what we want to do going forward.”
Wan said he has been endorsed by several organizations including the Victory Fund, Georgia Equality, the Georgia Stonewall Democrats and the Log Cabin Republicans. The Committee for Better Atlanta, which has rated all of the city’s candidates based on a questionnaire each fills out, has rated him excellent, with opponents Tracey Austin rated not qualified and Mike Boyle not participating.
Wan said his top three issues are fiscal responsibility, quality of life (including public safety) and infrastructure.
“We have got to address our road and sidewalks issue,” he said. “We have not always been in a position to do that but we will be in the future.”