Candidate Q&A – Valencia Breedlove, Decatur City Commission
Decaturish.com contacted every candidate running for office in Decatur and Avondale Estates and provided them with a list of questions. Valencia Breedlove is running for the District 1 Post B seat on the Decatur City Commission.
Here are her responses:
1) Why are you running for this position?
I want to be your next City Commissioner. I am no different from you; I’m a city resident, an employee of the county, and a parent with a child in Decatur City Schools. I am not a politician but I recognize that it’s time for a new voice. I want to be that voice.
2) What makes you the most qualified candidate for the job?
I have spent my entire career in public service. I have been an advocate for youth and heavily engaged in public policy. I have a master’s in Public Administration and I have spent a significant amount of time giving back through volunteering. This together with my core values makes me more than qualified for the job of City Commissioner for District 1.
3) Decatur’s decreasing diversity is a concern for many in the city. Are you concerned about Decatur’s diversity? If so, as an elected official, what will you do to promote diversity in the City of Decatur?
As a city we will never reach our greatest potential unless there is a spirit of unity and inclusion. All voices matter and I will ensure that we keep diversity at the forefront of our decision making.
4) Closely linked to the above question is a question about the cost of living in Decatur. High home prices and taxes are pricing many out of the city. What role should the city play in addressing this issue?
Higher taxes affect all of us. We know that taxes are necessary to support the city growth but keeping the city affordable is equally important. Decatur is not the first city to face this challenge. We need to find innovative ways to support our resources/needs and identify best practices or models that may help us achieve our goal. We should have a diverse city that includes working parents, college students, urban families and all nationalities. Further, there should be housing options to accommodate all people of various economic levels.
5) Relationships between the city of Decatur and City Schools of Decatur have been strained at times. What will you do to improve the relationship between the two?
This is tough for both sides. Resources are often at the center of any strained relationship. I think a new voice is essential in helping move both parties forward. I come with an unfettered and unbiased perspective committed to hearing all parties and willing to compromise.
6) Decatur has several apartment projects in various stages of development. Do you support the continued development of apartments in Decatur? Why or why not?
Diversity is the hallmark of our city and growth is vital. To achieve both, we must embrace multiple approaches including apartment developments. Mixed income housing should be a priority. Affordable housing is the great equalizer and ensures diversity.
7) Community groups in Decatur have expressed a desire for more green spaces, like parks. If elected, what will you do to promote the development of green space in the city?
Green space contributes to a healthy lifestyle. It brings neighbors together for events and recreation, and gives our children a place to play. With an urban community like ours, finding and preserving green space can be a challenge. We may need to get creative in where we locate and develop such areas, and keep an open mind to innovative and out-of-the-box suggestions. But incorporating green space in to both the new construction/city planning, as well as existing infrastructure, is definitely a goal and consideration of mine.
8) Being a commissioner will require working closely with the city manager of Decatur. Are you satisfied with the performance of City Manager Peggy Merriss? Why or why not?
First let me say, I support women in leadership. I recognize she has worked for the City of Decatur since 1983. She was the first woman and the youngest to attain her position. She has done a good job and helped to promote the city as a great place to live. Overall, I am neutral to her performance and look forward to working with her to create new solutions. So like her, I am ready to work, to roll up my sleeves and do what needs to be done to better the City.
9) What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the city of Decatur?
The greatest challenge is managing growth. How do we grow without losing the essence of the hometown feel? We have to support City of Decatur’s growth experience, so we must strike the balance between fostering expansion and nourishing the existing community we already have.
10) What is Decatur’s greatest strength as a city?
Decatur residents are the greatest strength. We are what make our city great. We work hard, we invest in our schools and our community, and we do what it takes to make it a great place to live.
11) If elected, do you promise to behave in an ethical and transparent manner?
Because I work within the Juvenile Court System, I deeply understand the importance of applying ethical standards to how you live your life both personally and professionally. I strive to model the behavior and characteristics that I want my own child to exhibit: kindness, responsibility and perseverance. I realize that I am a role model not only for my child, but for the dozen of children with whom I interact on a daily basis. Professionally, I work in a field in which I am required to take the set of morals and ethics that I have personally developed and maintained throughout my life, and integrate them into my professional standards.
The election is Nov. 3 and early voting begins on Oct. 12.