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 current Atlanta City Councilmember Keisha Lance Bottoms on Sept. 27.
For Keisha Lance Bottoms, addressing the issue of gun violence in Atlanta is not just political, it’s personal.
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Bottoms’ nephew was killed at 18 when he was mistaken for someone else and found himself “inadvertently in the middle of a gang war,” she said in an interview with Closer Look’s Rose Scott.
Bottoms, who has been a member of the city council since 2010, said gun violence is an issue that touches every corner of the city.
“It goes back to what’s the opportunity for the young people in this community?” she said. “They are finding whatever it is they need on the streets and they think the way to resolve their issues is to operate as if they are in the wild wild west.”
Bottoms said she grew up in a loving community that showed her she could go on to do anything. That’s something she said she believes young people are missing today.
To solve the problem, Bottoms said, the city cannot go at it alone.
“We just have to be a good partner and do our fair share, but we can’t abdicate our responsibility and we have to be a leader because we know what’s impacting our communities better than anyone else,” she said.
Improving the lives of the youth throughout the city includes a better relationship between city hall and the Atlanta Public Schools, Bottoms said. She said if she’s elected mayor she would establish a director of education who could be an advocate for APS at city hall.
“We have a reactive relationship to APS in this city. And everything about our schools influences and impacts the city and I believe as a city we will pay on the front end or on the back end,” she said.
A common theme in this year’s mayoral race is how the candidates will balance development in the city without displacing people from their neighborhoods — as well as expanding access to affordable housing.
“Development is important to the city, it’s the reason Atlanta is Atlanta because we have evolved as a city,” she said. “I think it’s important as mayor that I balance that. That I be a good partner with our business community but I don’t leave our communities behind.”
Bottoms said it’s important that as neighborhoods grow and develop, the longtime residents of that area get to stick around and reap the benefits.
“Atlanta has to continue to be this welcoming place for all, no matter what your income level is,” she said.