Cathy Woolard @ CCI
#atlmayor2017 #atlanta #cci
May 2nd, 2017
- organic to my being
- Generations of her family in public service
- Joined peace corps after college, her dad was glad the peace corps was there because ‘you’re definitely not cut out for military service’
Where did you grow up?
- all over the place
- Lived overseas a fair amount
- High school outside of D.C.
Who did you look up to growing up?
- played sports in high school, so her coaches
- in college, took notice of Barbara Jordan, a congresswoman
- a sister who passed away a few years ago and a brother, both younger
Sport of choice?
- I kind of like all of them. This is sort of indicative of why I like politics, there are rules of the game, and you do your best to work within those
- Softball in college
Rohit: There’s a sense of voyuerism as well. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do or not. How do you enter communities that you don’t necessarily understand at the forefront?
- “it’s important to go in with your mouth shut and your eyes open and say that way for a while”
- Micronesians have a fairly limited native vocabulary. Their language for religious things is Spanish, their language for government is English
- It’s a matrilineal society and a patriarchal government
- Men don’t live on the islands into which they marry
What were your parents like?
- mom as a southern woman is horrified at her entrance into public service
- Dad is always reflective about it, she’s gotta do what she’s gotta do
Do you want to live on an island?
- our biggest island was almost 7 square miles
- Went through a Hemingway phase where she read everything he wrote
When you don’t have anything to distract you for 2 years, your imaginary life becomes very interesting to you
moved back to Atlanta after the peace corps
- Hardwick, the Supreme Court sodomy decision
- “I was shocked by that decision… that decision really threw me for a loop. It’s probably not a secret that I’m gay…”
- There was a call nationwide to march in Washington.
- the decision was in 1986, the march followed in 1987
Was that your first march?
- no, but it was a significant one
What did you take away from it?
- came out to her parents the night before because she was going to be on tv in the march
- Her mom said we always knew, we wish you would’ve just told us
- about a million people showed up in Washington, and we’d never seen that many of us. “It was a collective consciousness raising that was palpable”
- the names project, the quilt project
- People started coming back to their communities and coming out
- “That weekend and all the organizing that led up to that changed everything”
Today we talk about the gay rights movement and it’s a civil rights issue. We’re people talking about it in that way in Atlanta in 1986
- yes, absolutely
- What’s so unique about LGBT community is we are part of everybody’s community. We’ve had to wrestle with our own diversity issues.
- Gay kids are not like their families of origin. Other kids that are minorities have their families
- How do you operate in a community that’s as diverse as ours and has as many differences as we have?
What was next after the march?
- had my own concert production company - hip hop
- Hired by Human Rights Campaign as a community organizer across the southeast
Worked out of D.C. as a lobbyist for HRC and national organizer for about five years
- our big challenge then was to convince gay people to come out and talk to members of congress. “To get people to communicate for themselves”
- I was assigned the south because no one wanted it and I was from here
“Others were assigned the New England republicans, I was like that’s not lobbying that’s like having tea
- told a story about an Alabama republican, Howell Heflin , who asked if she watched women’s basketball. They had a long chat about that
- “I learned at that point you have to get people where they are. I learned a lot about talkative people that don’t really agree with you.
Did you change anyone’s mind?
- she was assigned Sam Nunn
- Act up had had a Kiss-In in his office, so she had to go through some hoops to meet with him
- “don’t ask don’t tell” for him was an improvement
- Once I realized that he thought that was a step forward, I realized how to talk to him
- We’d started to see more violence in the military against gay people
- Asked Sam Nunn: 1. Could you stop using homosexual and just say gay? and 2. could you make a statement about violence?
- The next Sunday morning, when he was on the talk shows he did both of those things
How do you balance the political football vs the knowledge that this is a civil rights issue? Now at least constitutionality is on the side but that hasn’t changed mentalities
- “you gotta play the long game in politics”
- “It’s never just one win and it’s all fixed, never one loss and you can’t come back”
- when I was lobbying, it was before the intense gerrymandering took place. People who were in fairly drawn districts had to listen to both sides
What brought you into local politics?
- her previous job got to be boring. Went through a bunch of election cycles, some of which were great some eh
- Moved back to Atlanta
- Ran for city council, “I kinda wanted to push the buttons myself”
- “I ran against a 20y incumbent, she was a good supporter of gay rights but I thought she was gonna lose and she might as well lose to me”
- Polled 4th out of 5, got into runoff and won
- Chaired city’s transportation committee
- Served one term and then ran for city council president
As mayor would you change anything about city council and the mayor
The role of city council president:
On her and Shirley Franklin:
- we’re the same size. I think I’m a little taller, she probably does too. We were both born on May 10th. The year we were elected she was the age of my birth year and I was the age of her birth year. And we were also born in the Chinese year of the rooster, and this is the year of the rooster, so that’s why I’m going to be mayor.
- [Ed note: Cathy Woolard and Shirley Franklin were elected to City Council President and Mayor, respectively, in 2002. Cathy Woolard was born in 1957 and was 45. Shirley Franklin was born in 1945 and was 57.]
- Worked for 4 years on the Beltline with Ryan Gravel
- Felt like it was a project that Shirley Franklin needed to own
Decided to leave office to run for congress to try to get federal transportation funding. An open seat in the 4th district, mostly Dekalb county. She only had 100 days to campaign.
- I didn’t get in politics to hold office
- I made the Beltline happen
- Started the city’s first sustainability program
was very interested in putting forward policy. For the most part council members don’t put forward policy
- my now wife made me sign a paper that I would never run for office again
- I decided to run for office because of some affordability issues in the Beltline (and across the nation) and Jeff Fuqua decided to build the biggest Kroger across the street from my house
- We have very bad income inequality
- The built environment of the city
- We have a president and a state government that are a wind in the face…
- I’m somebody who likes to get things done
- I want to do something with my time
Is Atlanta ready for a white mayor?
- yes it’s a factor, it’s a conversation. 20 years ago I got elected as (the first woman, an openly gay, and a white) president of city council
What can we do to address racial barriers in this city?
- we have to talk about it, and we have to measure it
How do you measure it?
- how many kids graduate from high school. How many jobs available to GED holders. Units of housing that we build for people in an array of income size
- Numbers don’t lie. I was in the march for science.
- Data is not everything.
- Some of the issues that we face are very clearly measured
What kinds of public policies could the mayor’s office introduce? There seems to be a disparity in zip codes in Atlanta, when sidewalks get fixed, 911 wait times
- some of them you don’t have to introduce a policy, you just have to do the work
- The current mayor is not someone who is a city management day to day mayor.
- We have to talk a little bit about education.
- Anyone who has economic mobility will move to the schools that are working. You see people moving into the north side schools
- I would meet regularly with the head of APS. It’s a partnership.
How will people play a role in decision making
- I would not have given Fort McPherson away, I would not have ignored the Braves. I would not have sold Underground in that way. I hope city council will block the sale of Civic Center until I’m there.
- If we need housing for homeless people or for seniors to live in place, we have to know what it is we’re trying to achieve as a city and then figure out how we can get support
How do you balance an economy that has to grow with people who are left behind?
- all 5 of the city owned parcels that were identified to be sold were part of an identification task force
- Fort McPherson wasn’t going to be on the city books for a while
- Underground was finally paid off and wasn’t [a big burden]
- Tearing down a 5000 person auditorium misses the point of what arts and culture services should the city be providing
- Mayor’s attention is misaligned
How does a Woolard administration bridge the difference between what the public wants and
What would be the way that people would communicate with you?
- I come here, I come to neighborhood planning meetings, I ride my bike, I do regular things
Laura, what are the strategic partnerships that are important for the mayor?
- attending ARC meetings, being involved in transportation planning. Being constructive. Almost anything that we do requires relationships across levels of government. I know how to work with people that I don’t agree with and I get incremental wins or all out wins
- climate change of course is one of those issues where mayors can have a lot of impact. Makes a dig at Kwanza Hall: I’m not trying to decide if climate change is real or not. I created the city’s sustainability program twenty years ago
- First job was working at 14 at a recycler
Adrienne, education being a source of inequality. Can you give specifics about, people say affordable housing good, inequality bad
- next mayor has got to have a plan for how do we triple the size of the city in the next 25 years.
- Address housing for: homeless, people who are just out of high school, range of housing sizes, seniors to age in place
- It’s the job of the mayor to build those and direct the growth
- Would consolidate all transportation related functions
- Mentions a proposal for streetcar
- Would have a housing director to work with housing authority
- We have affordable housing all over the city, but a lot of it is boarded up. If you’re paying 25$ a year, we can’t clean the street for 25$ a year. How long do you need to sit on a piece of property before you get people in it. I think you ratchet up the taxes and increase the pain point
- I’m glad that we have a AAA rating, that saves us a lot of money, but I’m not sure that all the money that is in the reserves should be there
- I’m not sure that we’re paying off tax allocation bonds at the proper rate
- next mayor isn’t going to be able to tax people to the hilt
- Make sure that we can put transit in the city as fast as possible
- Need parks spending to increase green space
Audrey, displacement of arts and cultural workers,
- sets the bar pretty low when we’re the cultural [hub of the SE]
- City dedicates about $1M to arts and culture
- tearing down the civic center with no plans to replace it
- Ballet and opera have left the city along with the braves. It’s an issue when mainstream
- Extreme amount of money going to the dome and arena
- We could have leveraged the car tax for facilities, cultural programming, other things that drive tourism
- We’re losing things that are unique to us, in a historic preservation sense
- The stadium is built on MLK Drive which was central to the civil rights marches
- We tore down Friendship Baptist church
- Auburn avenue looks the same as it did 20 years ago
- Idea of using the last tenth of a cent on arts and culture was my idea. Compare Reed’s statement times with mine.
- A parking spot tax to fund green space. Say 25 cents per spot per day.
- Connect artists to housing opportunities that are available. Artists in residence programs. Encourage artists to design and build man hole covers
Do you think you could’ve kept the braves here?
- We just didn’t answer their phone calls
- I grew up hoping I was gonna be in the stadium when hank Aaron hit that home run, I wasn’t, but I tried.
- Neighborhood had precious little say
Would community benefits agreements be binding under your administration?
Eric, HIV incriminalization, would you support mandatory training for prosecutors and officers
- absolutely, that’s not provocative
- Decrim happens at the state level
- We have one of the highest rates of youth hiv rates in the country
- We act like it’s not a thing
- The city doesn’t have direct purview over this (health services), but we can be a bully pulpit.
- it kills me to think that young people are getting hiv today
Loki, pre-arrest diversion. Shift conversation about low-level criminal offenses. Decriminalization of marijuana, etc. public safety
Displacement around the stadium, 4K out of 14k own their own property
- are we building housing for people who live in substandard housing.
- We have to keep those organic communities in place
- 14k people, those are real numbers, but it’s not so great that we can’t dissect that and figure out what people need
- What if we just gave people a basic salary in the Pittsburgh neighborhood? That’s a little bit of a radical development, but when we look at international development
You and Mayor Reed have had public dialogue. He’s pointed out where he thinks you would fit in. Mayor Reed has said that he thinks he would win a 3rd term if he were allowed to be in the race.
- I have also said nice things when I agree with mayor Reed
- I don’t really care what he thinks if he ran again. That’s a silly statement
- I’m not gonna ride around in blue lights
- I’m not gonna sell city assets without considering…
- I’m not gonna let my lone brother work in my administration
First day’s theme song?
- wake up everybody by harry Melvin and the blue notes, “listen to the lyrics”
Birthday party at Georgia Beer Garden may 10