Cesar Mitchell @ CCI
#atlmayor2017 #atlanta #cci
Vote Local with ChooseATL,
- love of the city.
- Raised on the east side live on the westside
- Has 2 children, 4 and 5
- Wants lives to improve, opportunity to be there
Where in the city did you grow up?
- born at Grady
- lived 4 years in Kirkwood with his grandmother
- Born half a mile from where his mother was born, Hoover street
- Father moved here for seminary from TN and worked as a police officer
- Moved to Sandtown, Ben Hill
- One brother a year younger
- Maze HS, Moorehouse
- His brother pledged same fraternity
- His brother followed him as editor in chief of the year book
- He was battalion agitant (?) in rotc in high school, 3rd in command. His brother followed him my becoming second in command.
He was on step team
- his mother was insistent on them loving each other as brother
Rohit: the police, what’s your perspective wrt your father?
- his father passed away when he was 9, founded Afro-American patrol league
- his father was also a chaplain
- He graduated from seminary in his police uniform
- Much of his dad’s work he’s learned only by himself being in public service
- He meets people (ministers,) who tell him stories of his father, someone who carried a bible and a gun every day
- It’s informed his public policy
- Requiring all graduates to be on foot patrol
Did people encourage you to go to Moorehouse?
- was gonna go to Brown university on football scholarship as a linebacker
- Rohit suggests he looks like a step dancer, when Cesar says “I was a linebacker”, Rohit: your voice just got deeper when you said that
- Had a fateful conversation with his mom. His mom was concerned about students protesting at Brown, etc. encouraged him to go to Moorehouse, wanted him to be in a more protected environment
- “Best decision that she made for me in life (chuckles), it was my decision
Did you run for student government president?
- no, maybe was junior class senator
- Inspired by Maynard Jackson.
- Volunteer intern for Congressman John Lewis
- Worked at a days inn
- He was a courier
- majored in Econ/Engl
- Wanted to be a lawyer
- Taunted his mom suggesting he would become a teacher. Thinks he should have a teacher spirit in the work that he does
- Maynard Jackson spoke at his father’s funeral at Butler Street CME Church
- Made him think about the role as a mayor and accessible to people
- as President of the pre-law society, invited Maynard to speak at an event, he exited hundreds, only 15 people showed up in Gloucester Hall, and spoke as if he was talking to 2-3 thousand
- (in the previous, Cesar stands up, buttons his coat, and acts out Maynard’s actions to the south side of the audience
- I wanna be like that guy
First ran for City Council Post 1 at Large
Were you surprised by how you thought city council functions vs actual?
- not really
- There’s something called “theater in politics”, and I don’t have a theatrical bone in my body
- Rohit ribs him about his previous acting
- “I was channeling Mayor Jackson
- Seat mate: Mary Norwood, derrick, ct Martin, Debbie
- Usually they would go at it
- Invited to Manuel’s after and saw how the Council people were friends, they would talk about what to drink, what not to drink, and I’m telling too much
- Happy hour before NPU meetings
Cause they’re human and don’t act like it in a public setting. Is the Cesar we see the Cesar who legislates?
- I’m very guarded
- It becomes almost a self fulfilling prophecy
- the public desires this authenticity, but when you provide it, it gets cannibalized
- Everything is entertainment now… everything on tv, social media is driven by stimulation, the spicy the salty the controversy, the gossip.
- elected officials are now being out in a category with athletes, actors
People who come through CCI don’t feel engagement, political feedback is just a checkbox
- I’ve not been like that
- I believe in the power of public input. I was a sponsor of the Beltline legislation
- i was the chairperson of the committee, I slowed the process down… for principles for affordable housing, historic preservation, community benefits agreement, emphasis on transit, etc
- I want people to be able to come down to us and light us up in city council meetings
- “Leadership has to send a signal that it’s alright to be challenged
- He saw the person raising hell on Saturday, invited him to come back to city hall, saying “I miss you”
Guy who raises heck doesn’t want to look you in the eye, it doesn’t feel like a two way process. Have you seen public opinion shift the outcomes? I think it’s a trust issue
- just because we’re in conflict, doesn’t mean we have to treat each other as enemies
- An example: Rev Joe Beaseley’s birthday party: made me think back 10years to create a tourist triangle in which you can’t do any panhandling. Joe Beasley came down to city hall and he lit us up. And he called me by name, made some very specific points. As a result, I put in provisions to decriminalize the act. Fast forward 10y, and consider marijuana, and there’s been a vocal percentage of the public, which sparked a real conversation around policy, and I think you’re going to see some changes, I don’t think we’re at the point [where we’ll legalize it]
We don’t use data to vilify somebody, data in the public policy space can validate decision making. We haven’t seen that level of sophistication from city council:
- “we do use data
- Comes from policy analysts who do research, we ask for that kind of information. A lot of it is gut instinct, what’s the long term, short term impacts
- A law or policy you haven’t looked at in 2 decades, or something becomes commonplace for us to do
- Transparency and making actions of city council apparent online
- Talked about best practices
- We did the research and understand where the trend is going. But there’s been slowness on the administration
- I said, we’re gonna put a transparency portal online
Other cities have much more advanced systems, real time data, dynamic. What plays out in Atlanta, there’s conflict between council and mayor, has to do with below the belt lunches, tension, and the county comes in, and the state doesn’t play well. How to make these groups work together?
- number one, I don’t think I take any swings below the belt. I try to take the high ground.
- Mentions his leadership in pension reform, the Beltline legislation
- I grew up in an environment where you had to bring the team to bear. That’s how I approach it.
- I’ve spent an incredible amount of time in service
- Mentions ARC, Aspen Institute
- “If I repel you, then that’s a problem. I’m not gonna say we don’t disagree sometimes.
- Wrt the council and administration, it’s set up and designed for controlled conflict and you should expect that. There is an understanding that there has to be certain rules, and there’s no hitting below the belt
- I’m not gonna start talking about their momma
Economic development authority, role of ethics committee, are there strucural issues in that the mayor oversees the Economic development authority
- he sat on board of Atlanta development authority, invest Atlanta
- “You really asked a good question. I don’t know. I think it is worth evaluating whether the mayor should be chair of the economic development authority. And what I mean by that is are we missing out on members of the community… I have to think about that, I haven’t thought about that
There’s a feeling of, if cities don’t make data available, low voter turnout, don’t consider problem solving, how can the city claim to be growing economically while having one of the highest economic inequality gaps? There’s another narrative that isn’t as sexy for the headlines.
- I grew up in the city that was a tale of two cities. We have a shrinking middle class…
- I’ve always liked to be very deliberate, I like to be
- There is this corporate approach that is : let’s get it done quick. And j think you miss the opportunity to make something good
Let’s make it quick with solving affordability, homelessness. Don’t wanna move quick on sky lines and large buildings. How does the city
- I’m gonna stop you right there, answer that question authentically. I think that question is going to be asked this campaign season
- Rohit: I think we have devalued institutions like NPU, people don’t show up to that because they don’t feel empowered. I think people have lost trust with the system. Second, I don’t think there is correlation with how we measure economic growth vs vitality. GDP misses homelessness, etc. those aren’t factored in as economic factors since that’s how you get federal, state funding
- CM: poverty. core of the problem is inequality. We don’t live in a meritocracy. It’s a whole lot easier to build a 50 story building that address the inequality. The deep core is that we are building upon. I was here (CCI) Saturday where Nate Smith spoke on structural inequality and racism. Laws that have the impact over the last hundreds of years of inequality.
- Number 2: young people and crime, that goes back to poverty, a lack of opportunity. 25 years ago our school system pivoted away from career readiness to college readiness. School systems became focused on a smaller percentage of students in their school. Lack of vocational training has resulted in a lack of opportunity
Why don’t you flip table when someone wants to build a 50 story building. I don’t think Atlanta is different from the wave in the rest of the country that is resisting incumbents.
- who understands the city, knows how to get it done
- 10y ago I formed college prep series, served 6-7k students along with the Princeton Review series
- I’m entrepreneurial by nature
- Have to make sure families can (get in on these programs)
- Have expanded this to stem awareness, career awareness
- When I’m Mayor we’re going to turn blight to light. I live in west end. We’re going to make the argument to the corporate community that you should invest in blighted communities.
What happens when people don’t own the land. Displacement?
- 10k homes vacant and abandoned. When I’m mayor, we’re going to get back in the real estate business. References a state law that will allow the city to condemn property and not have to hold that property for 20 years
- When I’m mayor we’re going to get involved. We’re going to eliminate blight of boarded up homes… make them a place where families can live in affordable housing. School system is closing schools because of a lack of population.
Would the city buy property to keep people on it? 10k people around the stadium don’t own their homes. Fear that people would buy in bulk and flip it
Lara Wagner, blight to light, sale of Underground, is that an example of what you would like to do, and if not what’s gone wrong?
- it’s the current administration’s policy, it’s been part of a corporate agenda to sell off some of the city’s assets. The theory being that it would help the balance sheet. Goes back to moving quickly vs doing the right thing. Has it even closed Kyle, I didn’t think it was going to close. When I am mayor, we’re going to focus on the neighborhood, it has to be public money. We cannot allow conditions to exist, it will kill our neighborhoods. If neighborhoods are falling apart, we will not have school systems. Tbh with you, I did not think it was gonna happen
Jeffrey Marcheen, teacher, asks about educating black students and how to get tech startups hiring local students
- I have a strong relationship with board members of the school system, because I’m present, I show up
- We’re gonna do stuff together, we’re gonna buy toilet paper together. As mayor we’re going to have an office of education
- School system is a separate entity. However that will not be a barrier to me.
- Our resources and assets as a city will be available for the 7th period, where we will provide context, space and place, through a partnership (by way of the mayors bully pulpit), when kids get out of school (kids are at greater risk between 3 and 6), I’m not talking about after school program, but show our students real world experience. Whether they immerse themselves in another language, or become a coder
- we need to focus on the Bookends: 0-5 and 16-20, mentions that he’s friends with Casey Cagle who has pushed career readiness
- Universal childhood education. Why wait until a child is five, given that
Emma, neighborhood affordable housing, wrt eminent domain bill in the state law, inclusionary zoning, dedicated source of funding for trust fund, how will you advocate for that at the state level
- work with hat in hand, a strong argument, and pound the table
- Mentions best policies
- blight to light: a fund, partly funded by the city, corporate dollars
- strong policies including inclusionary zoning and non-displacement policies for seniors to live in place and young people to stay in town and not move out to the county to build a family
Isis Dukes: school separated from city, but city owns deeds of the schools
- first thing I’ll do as mayor is hand over every deed. That’s a risk, but sometimes you have to demonstrate that you are a person of good will. I think it’s important to build a partnership with APS. A joint economic development strategy with APS and an educational strategy. Schools are under pressure to close.
- Author of 4 of 10 tax allocation districts
Sabrina Mohammed, a google analyst and programmer. What do we do as technology reduces workforce?
- Significant effort at human utilization wrt economy.
- when we took tech and vocational training out of high school, we missed an incredible opportunity. 3D printing, coding. Imagine if instead of taking them out, the school system would have evolved.
- Companies have significant need for talent. And people have significant need for opportunity.
We’ve heard the word theater, how would the arts be involved in bridging these communities?
- my mom was an art teacher
- Take last tenth of a penny and support the arts. Mayor’s been an advocate of that, and I’ve been supportive of that.
- Have funding and structural government and leadership
- Second, make sure that artists can live in the community. We think of housing as affordable for poor people. But it’s for young professionals.
Mayor Reese said if he were running for a third term, he would win. How would you differentiate yourself?
- what sets me apart, I have a deep understanding of this city from a 360 deg view. I have taken a journey of service through the city.
- we’re at a crossroads. The Atlanta train is moving down the track. When I’m mayor we’re going to go from special to global. We have to get people on the train. Takes a kind and loving spirit. When it’s time to take a turn from Simpson road down to ashby.
- It’s time to pivot, we’re at a crossroads.
What is the theme song of the first day?
- Return of the Gangster, after applause, “that was an answer between Rohit and I… let’s just say Elevators