The city of Atlanta has gone through a great deal of change since Atlanta Black Star first began here five years ago. The city, much like Atlanta Black Star, has experienced a tremendous growth cycle. Although some of those changes offer many additional comforts of a big city and show Atlanta as a major city with international prestige, all those benefits that have been delivered don’t seem to be extended to Atlanta long-term residents. In fact, those residents seem to be least likely to benefit and most likely to lose their place in the city.
That makes this upcoming mayoral election an extremely important event that may determine the outcome of city politics and the use of resources for generations to come. As the city trends toward losing its historic Black majority, its storied working-class populations and its affordability for the middle class, the breadth of this change has yet to be fully comprehended. Atlanta the “Black Mecca” may very well end up being just another gentrified city. A city with big-box stores, glamorous high-rises and nice new walking trails but one in which the Black population that thrived in this city is pushed out because it can’t afford to live in the very city it helped bring into modern times. This has taken place as most of the very qualified candidates for mayor of Atlanta in November 2017 were in various offices helping to move the city forward. It is because these officeholders, who are smart if not brilliant people, could not see the massive displacement the city policies were causing that we cannot endorse them for Mayor.
There is only one candidate, State Senator Vincent Fort (D-District 39), that is both an outsider to city policy and yet has been a voice and legislator for the soon-to-be-displaced working class and black constituents of this city. Senator Fort first and foremost has long held views on ending displacement, creating affordable housing, establishing a livable wage and working to bring city resources to the most vulnerable communities, as opposed to tax breaks to its richest.
State Senator Fort has been active in campaigns to bring attention to renters and low-income homeowners for over a decade. Fighting for low-income housing, inclusionary zoning and a re-examination of city tax breaks to reorient economic incentives toward affordable housing development have been policy mainstays of Vincent Fort long before he decided to run for mayor. As a state senator, Fort has also sponsored legislation to change foreclosure law in Georgia to require a longer process with more judicial oversight.
Senator Fort also has stated he wants to work with small Black businesses to create more opportunities for city grants/loans and for the city to commit to a higher percentage of contracts being awarded to Black businesses. Fort has made access for minority business in the city and the state a top priority. In 2015 he led the effort to push for a board-adopted Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program after passage of the transportation bill H.B. 170. The bill called for increases in gasoline tax and other fees to make available $900,000,000 per year in transportation improvements statewide. The Department of Transportation DBE program aims to enable African-American, women and other minority businesses to compete on a level playing field. The implementation of that program is in progress and will begin in 2018.
Senator Fort has proven himself to be “unbowed and unbroken” in the face of the power of the real estate development class and the conservative state government. He has been a champion for progressive causes and has reached out to many in an attempt to build a viable coalition that can hold this city together.
It is because of these attributes at this important time in our history as a city that Atlanta Black Star endorses State Senator Vincent Fort to be the next mayor of Atlanta.
Click link to see the full Scorecard for the Atlanta Mayoral Race.