Mayor Kasim Reed pledged to “double down” on crime in Atlanta and announced he’s considering the use of the Atlanta City Jail to address the issue of prison crowding, he said during his inaugural address Monday, calling upon county partners to help combat repeat offender rates.
“Too often in the city of Atlanta, the women and men of the Atlanta Police Department do their jobs and risk their lives as they arrest criminals only to find that they are summarily released,” he said. “We must work together to bring an end to this practice because the citizens of Atlanta pay the lion’s share of the budget of Fulton County.”
Reed, whose remarks came after he was sworn into office for his second term Monday, also laid out in greater detail his plans to pursue a bond referendum worth up to $250 million to combat a $900 million backlog in infrastructure needs.
But first, Reed will appoint a blue ribbon panel to help identify savings that will pay for the project. The mayor pledged to not raise property taxes to fund the effort to repair roads, sidewalks, potholes, traffic lights and more.
Reed also said he will focus on improving the Atlanta Public Schools and suggested the city should set a goal to help all academically qualified students who are financially challenged attend college.
Municipal court judges and the Atlanta City Council were also sworn in Monday, the start of a four-year term that will be Reed’s last as mayor.
Reed and the majority of the council are returning to the posts they held prior to last November’s election, but Monday’s event marks the official entrance of Mary Norwood and Andre Dickens as citywide council members. Norwood held the Post 2 seat for two terms beginning in 2002 before running against Reed in the 2009 mayoral race. She defeated former Councilman Aaron Watson for her current seat, while Dickens bested former Councilman H. Lamar Willis for the job.
Council President Ceasar Mitchell, who with District 2 Councilman Kwanza Hall is considered a top contender for the 2017 mayoral race, will announce his committee chairmen appointments Monday. Because a council president typically cannot vote on pending legislation, such decisions are widely considered the most important way a council head can wield power and set the course of a four-year term.
The new term also marks the start of the council’s pay hike. The council voted in 2012 to increase its pay by more than 50 percent, bringing the average annual salary to about $60,000.