First time office seeker, Kelly-Jeanne Lee, is running for city councilwoman in an open seat representing District 1. Lee is an educator and member of her local neighborhood association. She maintains her wiliness’ to work hard for the community can carry over to the Atlanta City Council. In her interview with PrideIndex, the LPAC-endorsed candidate, shares ideas for coalition building and other issues.
Challengers: Clarence Blalock, Nathan Clubb, and Jason Winston.
What she shared with us:
PrideIndex (PI): Why did you decide to run for council woman of District 1?
Kelly-Jeanne Lee (KJL): I’m running because I think that our community is vibrant and complex and that someone who listens well and brings a collaborative mindset to the process of local governance can make a deep impact on the everyday lives of all of our citizens.
PI: What makes you qualified to hold this office?
KJL: The qualifications needed to hold the office of city councilperson are a deep love for your community, a willingness to listen to and to work hard for your neighbors, and an approach to governance that brings people into the process – I believe that I exemplify each of these.
PI: What is your vision for District 1?
KJL: District one is a deeply divided district, my vision for the district is to begin the process of healing some of these divisions and to begin to build equity between the northern and southern sections of the district.
PI: How do you plan address the issues of this District 1?
KJL: The issues in our district are varied and so the answer to this question is so lengthy. The shortest answer is that city council is a team sport and so to address any challenges that we face, we need to build a coalition among the other sitting members of city council. I have already begun the process of building connections between myself and other candidates and sitting members of the council so that if elected, I can hit the ground running with relationships already in place to begin this work.
PI: What similarities and differences do you see between yourself and your opponent(s)?
KJL: This area is a deep blue district and so many of us share values and priorities, I think the real difference is mindsets and approaches. As an educator, I learned very early in my career that a good leader sets a course based on the priorities of a whole group and works collaboratively to reach those goals. I know that this approach is the only way that any councilperson can be successful.
PI: What should the city of Atlanta do to address the issues of the homeless and the underserved?
KJL: Housing is the topline issue of my campaign because it touches every issue that our city faces. Closing the Atlanta City Detention Center and repurposing the building to provide medical care and additional wraparound services for our unhoused population would be a solid start. I also believe that any large housing developments should contain space for supportive housing to transition our citizens into long term, stable housing.
PI: Should you win, what do you plan to do to address the needs of your detractors?
KJL: This has been such a positive race that I wouldn’t say that there are any real detractors. I feel really privileged to be fighting for this community alongside so many other candidates that care so much about it as well. I know that whomever wins, we will have a strong leader for our district on council.
PI: What is your position regarding funding for affordable housing and/or the sky-rocketing costs of living in Atlanta?
KJL: We are in a housing crisis in Atlanta and so addressing affordable housing is of immediate importance for our city government. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to programs that strive to address this, however, there are cities of comparable size around the country that have programs in place that are having an impact on their housing crises that we could very easily replicate. Dedicating funds to affordable housing lowers the cost of other city programs because housed people need fewer services than unhoused people and so while it will take some up-front costs to address this crisis, it will lower the costs of other programs in the balance.
PI: What are your suggestions for building a better relationship between the police and people of color and the LGBTQ+ community?
KJL: Our society is at a critical juncture in our relationship with policing and the prison system. Our priorities are shifting and so the police’s priorities and role in our community needs to shift to match our needs. We also need to diversify the types of people who respond to emergencies in our community. We have a fantastic organization in Police Alternatives and Diversion who are a growing team of community advocates who can intervene in situations where people are exhibiting survival behavior and/or mental health challenges such that we have fewer guns in volatile but non-violent situations. This will make our community safer overall.
PI: How should the city address funding for HIV/AIDS treatment and education?
KJL: All of us, especially people living with HIV/AIDS, deserve comprehensive health care that addresses all of our holistic health needs including treatment of HIV/AIDS. We also need to increase focus on educating young people on prevention of new infections and ways to access PREP even without insurance.
To see the out LGBTQ candidates running for office in the November 2, 2021 election in the Atlanta area click on the names below. Check back for updates.
Antonio Brown, Larry Carter, Jason Hudgins, Brandon Cory Goldberg, Liliana Bakhtiari, Jereme Sharpe, Kelly-Jeanne Lee, Devin Barrington-Ward, Keisha Waites, Courtney DeDi, Alex Wan, Khalid Kamau and Mike Russell.