Candidate Q&A – Betty Blondeau, Post 1A, City Commission
In an effort to help voters prepare for the Nov. 7 elections, Decaturish sent questions to candidates for the Decatur City Commission Post 1A, which is being vacated by Fred Boykin. Early voting begins Oct. 16. To see the City Commission district maps, click here. Decaturish will also be hosting a candidates forum at the Decatur branch of the DeKalb County Public Library on Sept. 25. For more information about that event, click here.
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1) Why are you running for the Decatur City Commission seat?
As a lifelong citizen of Decatur, I love this city. I believe we’re now at a crossroads, and I want to put my skills to work on the Commission in order to guide Decatur in the most positive direction and the one that reflects what its citizens want. I will listen to the citizens and will seek bold, clear solutions to the complex issues that we face.
2) What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?
I am an independent candidate and I have no potential conflicts of interest through any business. I have many years’ involvement as a community activist and as a fundraising professional in the arts field. During my long professional career, I have worked effectively with volunteer boards, professional staff, consultants, and developers. I will bring those skills to my role as commissioner in considering all key issues and finding solid answers through collaboration. I am experienced in hearing citizens’ voices and in ensuring that those voices are valued in the decision-making process. Transparency, integrity and the absence of conflict of interest are of paramount importance to me, and I promise my work will always reflect that. As a retiree, I am prepared to devote as much time as needed to fully represent my constituents.
3) What do you think is Decatur’s greatest strength?
Decatur’s highly regarded school system is a huge draw for young families. The grandparents of those young children also come to Decatur to be near family and to enjoy the walkability and special flavor of Decatur. The Decatur “character” is also a draw for diverse populations. Decatur is a special place.
4) What do you think is Decatur’s biggest challenge?
As is often the case, our biggest strength can also be our biggest challenge. We must fund the school system that is such a draw for young families. As we grow and prosper and attract new residents, we must ensure that development is smart and sustainable. We must regulate development to preserve the unique Decatur quality of life and to ensure that we do not price people out of the market. I am in a position to address these issues with no possibility of personal benefit. Affordable housing is a high priority for me. Another component of this challenge is the need to preserve our tree canopy. We also need to deal with increasing concerns about traffic.
5) How would you address what you feel is Decatur’s biggest challenge?
I would work hard to assure that citizen input is heard and valued in development decisions. I would seek to incorporate our citizens’ expertise and experience in planning and development while these issues are studied by consultants, staff, and commissioners. As an example, in participating recently in the meetings of the Environmental Sustainability Advisory Board I have been impressed with what the volunteers on this board are accomplishing in working to bring creative solutions to so many issues.
6) What are the top two or three things you plan to focus on during your term as a commissioner?
Transparency. I will focus on honest, frequent, timely communication with my constituents to ensure that they are included in matters relating to development, their neighborhood, and traffic, among others. Citizens must be a part of the decision-making process. Too often, we citizens hear about decisions after the fact. My goal is to improve communication such that my constituents are aware of issues on the table so they are not surprised—and can be a part of the solution if they desire.
Affordable housing and preserving diversity. Diversity has been our strength. In order to preserve that diversity, I will work to ensure that we take every opportunity to find ways to make affordable housing available for our teachers, police officers, firefighters and seniors. We must find innovative ways to offer a variety of housing options to our diverse community.
Greenspace. I will focus on finding greenspace in downtown Decatur to serve those who live there (which comprises 28% of the city’s population). Greenspace is a major part of Decatur’s charm, but this has been a challenge for the north side. Further, I will work to ensure that the Children’s Home property remains green, and that we preserve and protect the old growth trees that are such an important part of what makes that property special.
7) If elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner?
Absolutely. As stated earlier, I have no business interests that could ever be in conflict with my goal of serving the citizens of Decatur. I believe this is of paramount importance.
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