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 state Sen. Vincent Fort on Sept. 29.
Vincent Fort has held public office in Georgia for more than 20 years. Despite most of that time being at the state Capitol as a state senator, Fort said his roots are in city politics.
Like us on Facebook
“I was president of the citywide neighborhood association for two years so I know the city as well as anyone from northside to southside, westside to eastside,” Fort said.
Despite the mayoral race being nonpartisan, Fort calls himself a progressive Democrat and is proud to align himself with once presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, who came to Atlanta last weekend to endorse Fort.
Fort said he and Sanders have a lot of similar views, like reining in Wall Street. Fort also said he supports Sanders’ single-payer health care and two-year free college tuition plans.
“We’re kind of soulmates on a policy level,” Fort said.
If elected mayor, Fort said he would focus on correcting what has been done at city hall over the last eight years. He said the current administration has been “asleep at the switch.”
Fort said he believes the focus has been on big corporations in the last eight years, rather than being on people and neighborhoods — which is where he sees himself as differing from his opponents.
He said previous mayors like Maynard Jackson were better at balancing the interests of corporations and citizens.
“The great thing about Maynard and other mayors before this current regime is that they balanced out. They balanced out neighborhoods and people and the business community. We’re out of balance now,” he said. “We’re severely out of balance.”
Fort said to get back on track, the next mayor needs to focus on expanding opportunities in the business sector to people of color, women and other minorities. He has sponsored legislation in that vein during his time in office, including the creation of the first statewide Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program.
However, Fort said in order for things like that program to continue, city hall needs to recover from current corruption scandals.
“We have to make sure business is done right at city hall so the state won’t have an excuse to try and interfere with the city’s business,” he said.
“Atlanta is a city where income inequality and income immobility dominates. Atlanta is No. 1 in income immobility, income inequality,” he said. “A child born at Grady Hospital this afternoon has less chance than any place in this country of moving from poverty into the middle class.”
Fort said he thinks the other candidates in the race are starting to come around to his way of thinking, but that voters shouldn’t let them off the hook.
“What the voters have to do is consider that my opponents may have had election year conversion. City hall has stood by while the city has become gentrified,” he said. “I was at the state Capitol fighting for neighborhoods, that’s the difference.”