The scene was the “Made Man Celebrity Charity” event on Atlanta’s West-side where we caught up with Kwanza Hall, the newest entrant to the mayoral race. If you’ve been a resident of Fulton County for the last 12 or more years, you have seen or at least heard of the 12-time elected District 2 City Council Member who has been a visible, diligent and tireless champion of the people. With this being said, the topic turned to politics, what to expect from him during this upcoming campaign, and more importantly what he plans on doing for the city if elected.
If serving as a City Council Member, serving 2-years on the school board prior to this, and now serving on as the vice-chair of the City Utilities Committee, on the Community Development/ Human Resources Committee and the Committee on Council wasn’t enough, he believes he has a calling and a purpose to serve. He jokingly refers to himself as a “made man” during the event, but humbly refers to God as the only way he knows to work hard. He speaks with a passion for being the conduit to bring people and community together as the ordainment from a higher spirit that ultimately guides him. As a procurer, his life experiences have allowed him the savviness and awareness to know what will work and what will not for his native city.
“Now we have an opportunity to usher in an even greater environment for the proliferation of African Americans. I believe I am the person who can take us there. I plan on being everybody’s mayor in our city. Atlanta doesn’t necessarily want a gay mayor, a straight mayor, a black or a white mayor, they’re looking for a great mayor.”
Council Member Hall speaks from experience and from the heart, a much needed skill in order to make deal with the often commanding, and demanding requirements of a job that represents an important city like Atlanta. His views on crime, affordable housing, and building police relationships are only part of his agenda. With his first priority as mayor being focused and attainable, he’ll be off to a running start.
“It’s about lifting up the basic neighborhood. “Atlanta is already great at building buildings but not as good as building people. We have to focus on getting out of the building environment – Atlanta already has enough stadiums and hotels. We have $2 billion in development in midtown alone but we need to focus on people. Cities are for people and places where you can have a neighborhood, and where a small business can thrive, that’s what I want to offer.”
But with cities and neighborhoods, there comes crime. With moral already low for citizens and city services such as policing, how is Council Member Hall preparing to come up with solutions?
“I’m already working with Fulton County Commissioner Marvin Arrington on finding items in our budget to prevent the crime. It’s all about intervention and prevention. A lot of that is not going to jail, not going to juvenile, not being in the criminal justice system. They need the exact opposite. And that’s what I want to do, work with the county which is the main agency on human services. Provide a new set of services that our young people deserve. Since they’re not old to formally work, we have to figure out how they provide value in this economy so they don’t have feel like they have to resort to crime and – in some cases – support their family.”
And keeping, maintaining and strengthening police relations?
“Right now I’m working on a program for home ownership for officers. We have to make it where they can enjoy their lives too and they feel so comfortable that the city loves them and they have high mo0ral. Training also; many are very young and they need to learn the de-escalation tactics so they’re not caught up in always violent situations. In this new climate of marching and protesting, as well as terroristic activities going on in our society, we got to give them a skill set. We have to provide them a safe haven so that they feel that the city is allowing them to be the protectors while we also protect their lives and their futures.”
Still, residents of Atlanta, neighborhoods and cities need help. What are the plans for keeping Atlantan’s home and prevent further suburban flight?
“I’m going to implement an aggressive affordable housing program but preserving the unique character of our historically African American neighborhoods. Nobody can push you out of anywhere that you don’t want to go.”
Does this mean more affordable housing that hasn’t been a reality in the past? Council Member Hall’s solution was a refreshing simple approach.
“It means we got to begin to own. There are thousands of empty houses that are less than $50,000. It may need repair but if we choose to buy one house and rent it out to a family that needs it. You can provide affordability, endowment for your family, even a lease to purchase for that family. That’s what we should be doing with our wealth that we have rather than buy new cars, shiny things and clothes. I’m going to challenge some of my friends in the community to redirect our wealth back into the community to only see it multiply, so you can buy what you enjoy.”
So, this “man-made” person of convictions and commitment has a plan, a goal and an opportunity. They make up some very valid reasons Kwanza Hall is running for Mayor of Atlanta. If you can’t make a difference with the power you have, reach for the next highest level to affect that change.
- Joseph Walker, III
Follow Kwanza Hall on Twitter @KWANZAHALL or to learn more on him visit his website WWW.KWANZA HALL.COM