Just How Safe Is Atlanta?

A recent Atlanta Business Chronicle article reported that crime in Atlanta is down 30% from previous years.  That’s good news for all of us, but it’s important to explore what’s underneath that headline.  For people who have experienced a carjacking or home invasion or armed assault or even just a car break-in in their neighborhoods, it doesn’t feel like it.  And if you look further, our stats for violent crime are holding steady or, in some categories like murder, rape and assault, the reported numbers in 2014 were higher than the prior year.  The reported numbers for burglary, theft, auto theft and arson have dropped and likely contributed to the aggregated total crime drop recently reported.  

We are lucky here in Atlanta.  For the most part, one’s daily experience is usually a safe one.  But look closely and you’ll see some troubling trends.  Gang activity, human trafficking, illegal guns and drug smuggling are present in our communities due to the junction point for air, trucking and even train transport that has made Atlanta a powerhouse for business recruitment.  And all too often, those most vulnerable to getting caught up in illegal and often violent activities are young people for whom education and opportunity have passed over.  

We have to stay focused on performing with excellence each day and preventing the crimes that threaten lives and make our neighborhood streets unsafe. That includes a continued focus on training, recruitment, and retention of great people in our police department while ensuring that we develop our communities in a way that presents young people with a good education, after-school sports, arts and work-readiness programs. We must also change state and federal policies to ensure guns stay out of the hands of children, those with mental illness and people who have committed violent acts. And we must continue to engage in the discussion led by the Black Lives Matter movement and consider the role that race, income, and equity play in how we prioritize our law enforcement activities.  

I’ll be talking more about public safety as the campaign continues so please sign up here to get involved and stay connected.  

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

This month, Hank Aaron’s and America’s team - our beloved Atlanta Braves - will leave downtown Atlanta, their home for more than 50 years.  Fans have packed up their grills, their cornhole boards, and stereos, and driven away from Turner Field—maybe for the last time.  

Athletics have long played a positive role in our communities.

For evidence, look to Atlanta’s LEAD organization (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct), a nonprofit founded by former Cubs player and Atlanta native CJ Stewart.  LEAD uses baseball as a vehicle to change the lives of more than 500 African-American student-athletes from some of Atlanta’s poorest neighborhoods.  In addition to training in baseball, LEAD emphasizes academics and civic involvement and instills a duty to one’s community.  The organization is succeeding: to date, 100% of participants have graduated and 92% of them have received college scholarships, and LEAD’s Ambassadors, those highest in the organization, complete more than 2,000 hours of community service.

Armed with their education and impressive athletic ability, these young leaders return home to uplift their communities.  They are better because of baseball, and, because of their community involvement, their neighborhoods are better as well.  A minor league team that brings family fun, inspires young people and provides jobs and opportunities for local businesses could help our community just as LEAD’s student-athletes are helping theirs.  

Georgia State University already has plans to build a baseball stadium as part of the new Turner Field development plan.  It may be possible to share that sports complex in a mutually beneficial way with residents of the city.  In addition to watching college baseball in the spring, imagine the global relationships that could develop if we hosted international exhibition games with teams from Cuba, Dominican Republic or Japan during the offseason.  Perhaps we could host important high school, Little League, and All-Star tournaments there as well.  

Baseball fans know that Little League, high school, and Independent League games can be every bit as fun as the Majors.  In addition to the high-caliber play, fans enjoy cheaper tickets, concessions from local vendors, lots of inter-inning entertainment, and a high level of player engagement.

There are many possibilities for inspiring young people and providing more family and budget-friendly activities in Atlanta and they are important to our future as a city.

While others can sit in traffic waiting for the first pitch, let’s be creative and keep baseball going right here in downtown Atlanta.  Just think, soon the Atlanta Road Warriors could be playing the Savannah Bananas in a stadium full of fans.  

These Shoes are Made for Walking

There are lots of ways to have some fun with our campaign.  I just walked in the Atlanta Pride Parade on Sunday, October 9th and will do it again in the Atlanta AIDS Walk on Sunday, October 16th.  I hope you’ll come out and join me and thousands of your friends and colleagues as we take to the streets to make Atlanta a better place and to enjoy our wonderful October weather.  

Join Our Campaign!

I can use your help.  If you’d like to play a role in helping me get elected Atlanta’s next Mayor, you can sign up to volunteer, host a house party in your neighborhood or contribute financially so we’ll have the resources to build a winning coalition.  And you can pass this newsletter on to friends who might be interested joining the team.  Let me know how you’d like to help.  And you can do it all by clicking here. 

Don't Forget to Vote!

Before we elect a new Mayor, we need to elect a new President.  Please make sure you are registered to vote and that you make plans to vote by November 8th. 

  • You can register to vote until October 11.
  • Early voting starts on October 17.   
  • It’s too important to wait until the last minute to get ready to go -- make plans to vote now!  
Lee Woodsmall