Top goal for 2013: Cut crime, Reed says
Stan Washington Senior Writer | 1/4/2013, 1:25 p.m.
ATLANTA – Mayor Kasim Reed sat comfortably in his mayoral conference room recently, looking back on a year of both joy and sorrow and projecting a brighter and more prosperous 2013 for all Atlanta residents.
In a wide-ranging interview, Reed also discussed the city's close relationship with President Barack Obama's administration, talked about his own plans for re-election and revealed the names of his two favorite restaurants in the city.
Reed said he’s planning a vigorous campaign for re-election, even though no opponents have yet tossed their hat in the ring. “I planned to run as if 10 people have announced,” he said.
Below is an edited version of the interview.
The Atlanta Voice: What do you consider some of your highs and lows of 2012?
Mayor Kasim Reed: I think one of the highs was certainly the re-election of Barack Obama. That would certainly be considered a high for me and millions of other Americans.
I think the opening of the Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport [and] winning the 13-year extension of the water and sewer consent decree were... real high point[s] for me…
[One] low point was our failure to pass the transportation referendum (T-SPLOST). I spent a couple of years of my life working on creating the legislation and then working on the referendum and failed completely…
Voice: How do you see the state of the city at this point?
Reed: I like that we are a much stronger city. When I got sworn in in January 2010, there was no question that the city was at its worst point financially certainly in the last 30 years. That's not my opinion. Just pull the data. Property revenue tax was dropping $10-$15 million every year . When I came in the door we had $7.4 million in reserves, now we have more than $110 million in reserves.
We have the largest police force in the history of the city. The largest in the state. We have more than 1,900 police officers. We will have 2,000 officers next year. And those aren't just numbers. The FBI Uniform Crime Data show a 16-point drop in major crime.
My new goal is to work towards a 20 percent reduction in (major) crimes by next year. I feel confident that we will finish this year with less than 100 murders in the city of Atlanta, which has been the case every year I've been mayor. Murders in Atlanta [had] been as high as 220 to 230 a year.
And we are meeting our pension obligations. We have a $1.5 billion underfunded pension. We passed the most comprehensive pension reform of any major U.S. city. And we did it without bad-mouthing our employees or bashing labor unions. We did it through engagement.
Voice: Your number one priority for 2013?
Reed: My number priority is to reach a goal of a 20 percent crime reduction by the end of my first term in office.
Voice: What signs do you see in Atlanta that tells you the economy is slowing turning around?