“I am the youngest person in this race by 20 years. So I have the Institutional Knowledge of the history of this city; a real, emotional connection to the city as a 40+ year resident; and I’m young and energetic enough to take an imaginative and technological approach to our city’s problems,” said khalid kamau.
The District 6 Councilmember chooses to spell his name in lower case, following the Yoruba African tradition emphasizing the community over the individual. Councilman khalid is an attorney, activist, and self-described democratic socialist. He has worked several blue-collar jobs, including as a bus driver for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority and grassroots organizations. He was born and raised in what is now the municipality of South Fulton.
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Challengers: William “Bill” Edwards, and Jewel Johnson.
What he shared with us:
PrideIndex (PI): Why did you decide to run for this office?
khalid kamau (KK): I did not want to be Mayor. I wanted to work for more economic development and public services for my District.
However, I kept running into roadblocks — some set up by a Mayor who was intimidated by my popularity and some simply inherent in a system that is better at maintaining the status quo than implementing new ideas. So I’m running to be the change I wish to see in the system.
PI: What makes you qualified to hold this office?
(KK) I am uniquely qualified in 3 ways.
1) I was born and raised here. I am the only candidate for Mayor who is a South Fulton native.
2) I am the only challenger who has been a City Councilman since the city began.
3) Though 45, I am the youngest person in this race by 20 years.
I have Institutional Knowledge of the history of this city; a real, emotional connection to the city as a 40+ year resident; and I’m young and energetic enough to take an imaginative and technological approach to our city’s problems.
For example, I have made civic education a big part of my tenure in office. I’ve published and mailed hard copy materials about our Council City, but also maintain a YouTune channel, TikTok, and IG (@khalidCaresUSA), which provide political education along with a peek into my personal life.
PI: What is your vision for the City of South Fulton?
(KK): Of all cities over 100k, South Fulton is the Blackest City in America (more info: www.khalidCares.com/101). As such, our greatest challenges are connected to the systemic racism that all majority Black cities face — undervalued homes, underperforming schools, and lack of access to capital for local businesses.
I want to use our $127 million budget to invest INWARD — to buy and develop our land and cultivate our local businesses — to become a Greenwood/Tulsa for the 21st century, a real-life Wakanda.
PI: How do you plan to address the issues of South Fulton?
(KK): The main thing is to slow down our Council Meetings and Agenda. Our Mayor alone makes the agenda for and moderates every meeting. I want to use our meetings to work through complex problems with our public.
PI: What similarities and differences do you see between yourself and your opponent(s)?
(KK): I believe all my opponents and I care deeply about South Fulton, but none of them have the imagination or courage to try the new solutions to age-old problems being practiced in more progressive cities.
PI: What should the City of South Fulton do to address the issues of the homeless and the underserved?
(KK): I am currently visiting Portland, which may be the best proof I’ve ever seen that cities are incapable of tackling the homeless. Portland’s progressive policies for the unhoused have attracted people from across the West Coast.
Homelessness is a regional problem that requires leadership at the State level.
PI: Should you win, what do you plan to do to address the needs of your detractors?
(KK): My detractors are afraid that my inwardly-focused economic development strategy will scare away “white” investment. This is ludicrous on its face. We have had generic, race-neutral economic development campaigns for decades that have yielded no actual economic development. (Our area’s top 3 employees are a church, a call center, and a local Walmart).
I am confident that the fruit of my strategy will silence those critics who are truly interested in economic development.
PI: What is your position regarding funding for affordable housing and the sky-rocketing costs of living in the Atlanta area?
(KK): While the cost of housing in Atlanta is sky-rocketing, housing in South Fulton — Atlanta’s twin city — remains affordable. We passed a referendum in 2018 that bans the raising of Homestead Property Taxes by more than 3 percent every year.
I want to institute financial literacy classes for adults and youth that teach South Fulton families how to retain the wealth and equity they earn as our city improves.
PI: What are your suggestions for building a better relationship between the Police, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community?
(KK): Like most cities, South Fulton spends 25 to 30 percent of our budget on Police. However, we spend less than 1 percent on economic development.
We cannot police our way to prosperity. Data shows the BEST way to fight income inequality is by focusing on economic development programs that decrease our need for Police.
I am also working with groups like the Center for Policing Equity, which has helped dozens of law enforcement departments across the country reduce their use of force complaints AND officer, on-the-job injuries. We just signed a contract with them to collect data to improve our Police Department.
PI: How should the city address funding for HIV/AIDS treatment and education?
(KK): South Fulton’s zip code 30349 has some of the highest rates of HIV infections in the metro area. I brought in an HIV and STI testing program to my local park.
There is a movement across the country to reimagine park buildings as public health centers, focusing on prevention programs like testing and discussion groups for teens that promote safer sex in a sex/body-positive way.
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.