Zan Fort

Zan Fort.

Occupation: Senior Account Executive/Insurance Agent, Insurance Plus

Previous elected offices held: None.

Other community service experience: As a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., I participated in various community service projects with March of Dimes, the Ronald McDonald House and Habitat for Humanity.

What is motivating you to run for this office?

The current political climate in this country is very concerning to me. The rise of nationalist, fascist ideals in state and federal government and the backwards policy toward dealing with the COVID-19 crisis have made it imperative that I become involved in creating policy to reverse these trends. Second, my desire to run for this office has been strengthened over years of watching the career of my father, former state Sen. Vincent Fort. His years of activism and political service has served to foster my own political aspirations.

What is the biggest issue facing the district and how will you address it?

Income inequality and the consequences thereof are the biggest issues facing this district. I plan on addressing these issues by advocating for policies that will foster jobs, job training/apprenticeships, expanding Medicaid, increasing the minimum wage, and making public secondary education and technical colleges free for Georgia students. Atlanta is number one in the country for income inequality and the COVID-19 pandemic is only exacerbating this unfortunate situation.

What would be your policy priority in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic?

The response from the governor has been woefully poor. We need leadership that will make sure state policy on COVID-19 is based on science and not politics. This would involve making masks mandatory across the state, ensuring testing is free and easily accessible, and facilitating the distribution of masks and other PPE  to Georgians, free of charge.

What state law changes, if any, should follow as a result of this year’s protests about racism and police brutality?

We need legislation to stop racial profiling and to collect data on police stops. We also need to ban chokeholds used by police, end no-knock warrants, and end qualified immunity. By holding the bad cops responsible we can restore the community’s faith in law enforcement. Furthermore, I support reallocating police budgets so that our law enforcement officers do not have to respond to mental health and non-violent calls. The majority of police are not trained to deal with someone in a mental health crisis. Asking them to handle these calls puts the cop and the citizen in a dangerous situation.

Buckhead this year has seen an increase in gun crimes and street racing. What state law changes, if any, should be made to tackle these crime problems?

Penalties for street racing should be increased to discourage the dangerous activity. We should also explore the addition of traffic-calming measures (physical changes to roads that discourage speeding) and cameras to identify offenders for enforcement.

Tax abatements granted by governments to developers in such hot real estate markets as Buckhead have been highly controversial. Should any changes be made in state law to the way abatements are delivered, and if so, what are they?

Tax abatements should be tied to creation of affordable housing. There is no reason a business should receive consideration from the state without providing appropriate compensation to our communities.

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.