Elizabeth Whitmore believes there is no one size fits all approach for each neighborhood in District 4 because each area has their own needs that must be prioritized and addressed. The sole purpose of the Westside Listening Tour is to get the feedback of residents top concerns. However, the list of issues below have stood out to Whitmore and she will stand by these efforts. Once Whitmore is elected in 2017, as a community we will then establish a community wish list for each neighborhood, which will involve each area deciding on what their main 3 requests are then we will review the possibilities. Whitmore believes in setting clear goals for each area not based off what she believes they need, but what she hears residents vocalize as their needs. Elizabeth Whitmore is working for MORE in District 4, and is consistently known for delivering results.
District 4 Grant Fund
Elizabeth Whitmore has successfully brought over 12 corporate partners to the Westside community and has trained over 2,000 residents through her professional development workshops on the importance of business organization. Businesses must perform at an optimum level in order to be successful in the community, and we shouldn't accept anything less. Once elected, Whitmore will establish a District 4 Grant Fund that will assist small businesses and non-profits in gaining funding. Small businesses are the heart beat of District 4 and when you go to areas such as Edgewood, Kirkwood, and even the Ponce City Market area you do not only see large development projects, but small business owners that create the community culture. Whitmore will build upon that and strengthen District 4's economy through job creation on the small and large business level. In the last year, Whitmore has assisted 4 businesses gain grant funding and 5 non-profits partner with corporate foundations. She has also been invited to the table on numerous occasions to speak as a community representative alongside developers looking to bring new development. Most importantly, she will encourage community input for developers coming into the area. We must stop leaving neighbors in the dark on the projects coming to their community.
A major portion of the district is transit dependent. The most under-served of this transit oriented population is the senior population. Another portion of the transit dependent population is the working class who commute outside of the perimeter to places like North Fulton, Dekalb and the Airport for work. Our streets are consistently congested. The streets are filled with potholes and our sidewalks are disconnected or non existent all together. Seniors with disabilities are left to operate their wheel chairs in the street. This must change, and with the increase in bike lanes in the community we must ensure that our sidewalks are also properly paved for future expansion of lanes.
Blight: houses in a deteriorated condition
There are over 500 abandoned properties in District 4, and that is only considering 3 neighborhoods. There are areas of the district that have been consistently neglected, and Whitmore will take that on as an immediate fight. Currently, to register an abandoned property for the year in Atlanta it is only $100, which is pennies compared to the grief it causes many neighbors. In 2013, Whitmore demanded the city increase the registration fee, and that is going to be the first level of priority for her once elected. In addition, we must bring responsible developers and architects to the table that are ready to develop a plan to not only rebuild the community, but design a sustainable community plan. Whitmore will also work alongside her colleagues at City Hall to increase the Code Enforcement budget to fine delinquent, property owners, stop illegal dumping, and increase APD cameras in areas of constant illegal dumping.
Gun shots ring throughout the district regularly. Violent crime, drug trafficking, prostitution and theft make up a significant percentage of ongoing crime reported in the district. Reckless driving on residential streets is a crime that is detrimental to the safety of all and goes unaddressed. Whitmore has never accepted these acts as the norm, and will address them appropriately once elected. In addition, Whitmore will continue to work alongside the Atlanta Police Department to assist in these areas while also installing speed bumps in areas where speeding is most frequent beginning in the areas where schools can be found within the residential area. Lastly, the Pre-Arrest Diversion Program, which is currently being piloted in Zone 5 will greatly assist in targeting those who commit crimes of poverty or suffer from mental illness by ensuring they receive the appropriate resources. In addition, for youth repeat offenders, parents will be held liable and accountable. Gone are the days when youth can commit heinous crimes and parents are viewed as victims. Whitmore will work with the District Attorney's Office to assist in a required parental engagement method. The youth are our future, and accountability is a major part of any action.
The most pressing issues facing our communities deal with housing. The communities that make up the district have never fully recovered from the urban flight and disinvestment in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Too many homes within the district have fallen into a state of disrepair and abandonment. There are entire streets or neighborhood blocks within the district with abandoned and blighted properties.
To add fuel to the fire, the promise of investment from the Atlanta BeltLine project has attracted land speculators and real estate investors in droves who have little regard for the health and development of the community. The rising property taxes and market rate for rentals threaten to displace the very people who have lived in the community for generations. Whitmore will acknowledge that displacement impacts all races and ages, and for those residents who are interested in home-ownership she will assist them on that journey by partnering with local and federal home buying organizations. Whitmore became a homeowner at 22 years of age, understands the process, and will continue to build upon that knowledge through researching new programs.