In the lead-up to the Nov. 7 election of Atlanta’s next mayor, “Closer Look with Rose Scott” will feature 20-minute conversations with the candidates in the race. Scott interviewed former Atlanta City Council President Cathy Woolard on Sept. 26.
When Cathy Woolard drives around town, she said she sees a number of projects she had a hand in making possible.
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Most are from her time as a member — and eventually president — of the Atlanta City Council in the late 1990s and early 2000s. When elected in 1997, Woolard became the first openly gay elected official in the state’s history.
Woolard, who was the first candidate to enter the race for mayor, has been particularly known for her role in advocating for the BeltLine.
However, she acknowledged in an interview with WABE’s Rose Scott, that the BeltLine she rallied for during her time on the council and the reality of today are different.
Woolard said she believes it’s important to expand access to affordable housing, both along the BeltLine and throughout the city.
“Where we’ve been off track the last couple years is that the mayor’s priority has been to lay down the sidewalk as fast as he can and to pay for it using the tag to incentivize luxury housing every step of the way,” she said.
Woolard said this is, in part, what motivated her to make another run for city government.
“I just thought that that intersection of social justice, which has been my career outside of government, and infrastructure development, which was my career inside of government, sort of made this the right time and the right place for me to get back in,” she said.
Woolard said she was concerned “about poor quality design in the city,” particularly the issues she sees around the BeltLine. She also said she has been discouraged that income inequality has not changed much in the 15 years since she held office.
In addition to access to affordable housing, Woolard said if she is elected mayor she would like to enact solutions to help the city’s homeless population in ways she believes have been incomplete in the past.
“There’s been work that’s been done, but I don’t think we’ve probably put the financial resources into doing it, because I think we’ve let nonprofit organizations and faith and philanthropy manage it for the most part and it clearly needs more,” she said.
Woolard said, if she’s mayor, it all starts with a plan.
“I’ll bring everybody to the table. We’ve got plenty of plans — we’re going to get them out, we’re going to solidify it and my job is to go get the resources and build the team and get it done,” she said. “There’s no more talking about it. There’s no more hand-wringing about it. We’re just going to get it done.”