Candidate Questions

What will you commit to do to respond to the prevalence of youth water sales at busy intersections that endangers themselves and motorists?

These answers are offered as a community service from candidates who chose to respond.
They do not represent an endorsement by the Buckhead Coalition.

Mayor Candidates

  • Andre Dickens: I plan to create youth training and entrepreneurship programs through a new Atlanta Department of Labor. We need to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit and train them to become part of the workforce. For many, this is a positive outlet, so we need to build upon that. Programs to provide training and mentorship have been successful in other cities, most notably Baltimore, and we can do the same here in Atlanta.
  • Sharon Gay: This activity is dangerous for the young boys and for drivers. The fact that the best way for young boys to make money is by risking their lives to sell water in traffic is the real problem here. I don’t think the answer is to institutionalize this practice, but rather to find alternative ways to channel their entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Mark Hammad: The youth water sales will stop under my administration. I certainly applaud them for their entrepreneurial skills, but they are putting themselves and the driving public in danger by selling in traffic as they have. We cannot allow this. These kids should be in school during the day. Further, if they do need employment, the job market is very strong right now and nearly any other job would likely pay more than they are making and would be safer for them.
  • Felicia Moore: I fear we’re losing too many children to a cycle of crime, violence, and lack of opportunity. That’s why my comprehensive public safety plan includes a way to end the school-to-prison pipeline. Many children living in economically challenged neighborhoods sell water to support their families. Others have been preyed upon by gangs. As our next mayor, I will re-tool our recreation centers to develop after school programs that provide young boys and girls with fun, engaging STEAM-related activities, and I’m going to turn them into job training centers that provide teens with safe opportunities to earn, learn, and get hired.
  • Kasim Reed: I am firmly opposed to our city’s youth selling water at our intersections. It’s unsafe for them and the drivers they are attempting to serve, but I do believe that we should not ignore the “can-do” spirit of these young people. If elected, I commit to raising $2M in private funds to create a jobs program that will provide an alternative to selling water on our corners. These young people will be given the opportunities to serve our city in other ways and be trained and compensated for their work. I have also committed to opening and extending the hours of all 33 Centers for Hope, which will provide a safe space for youth to go and have a meal and receive other services for which they are in need.
  • Roosevelt Searles: We are a city of resources. Yet we are failing to provide them to the ones who need them the most. We will open the first Entrepreneurship Night School. Giving youth entrepreneurs the chance to learn the right way to conduct business. No longer will they be allowed to terrorize the streets. Parents will be held accountable for teens under 17. Those over 18 will be cited with citations ranging from $50-100 per occurrence. We will also be building 6 new community centers aimed at providing evening/day classes and events to the youth.
  • Richard Wright: While the premise is good, the execution has become a major problem. Citizens activates need to be regulated to insure their actions aren’t hurting other citizens. I explain to people that alcohol was constitutionally prohibited. The Federal government then to the opportunity to reevaluate, write regulations and now alcohol is legal. I agree with Atlanta police wanting to cite parents of youth selling water because they play a role in this as well. My administration will suspend all soliciting on Atlanta city corners and intersections. There should be “NO SOLICITING” signs posted at major intersections in the city of Atlanta to combat this, with fines imposed towards violators. I would work with the city council and APD to implement my administration program called Boyz to Men. The program train and teach young men from 14-17 on business disciplines in a series of courses over a 5 month period of time. Parents must attend classes 75% of the time. After completion of classroom portion, the young men’s parents will apply for a city license get insurance and be assigned to low traffic corners in SW Atlanta.
  • Glenn S. Wrightson: As Mayor, I, Glenn S. Wrightson, would set a timeline target that illegal water sales would have to stop.Absent addressing the underlying problems of the conditions involving engaging the youth in legal activities, I would set a “grace period” before formally restricting roadside water sales to determine alternative work activities for the youth.

I would try to hire Andre Dickson and Antione Brown to administer youth programs.

I would instruct law enforcement to be pro-active and enforce the laws after the grace period ended.

City Council President Candidates

  • Natalyn Archibong: Many of these at risk teens are selling water because their families are living in extreme poverty or they’re in gangs that require them to solicit money. We can combat poverty and gangs by partnering with the Atlanta Board of Education in identifying students who are at risk of either joining gangs as well as those who are experiencing housing insecurity and living in impoverished conditions. Thereafter we must partner with Atlanta Worksource and other non-profit and social service agencies to provide employment opportunities and training for these youths and provide services to stabilize their families. Additionally, I will work with the Fulton and Dekalb Juvenile courts to implement early intervention programs for troubled youths and work to increase funding for APD’s gang taskforce.
  • Courtney English: Youth water sales is a dangerous activity for both the young people and motorists. We need to open all our city’s recreation centers to late into the evening and invest in after school programing that channels the energy of young people. Finally, we should make the city’s youth jobs program year-round so that our young people can earn money in a more productive fashion.
  • Doug Shipman: ​​We need to make sure we have alternatives for our young people to use their time and energy productively. We need to make sure all of our community centers and pools are open in the summer, and our after-school programs are fully running during the school year. We should also enforce vendor licensing rules, which will limit the ability of sales to take place. Decreasing the profits from sales will reduce the number of youth selling water in public areas.

City Council Candidates, Post 1 At-Large

  • Michael Julian Bond: I do not support the sale of water or other products in City streets. The City should create youth/teen development and apprenticeship programs for young people who are looking to explore legal entrepreneurships and future career opportunities. I am committed to funding such programs and to partnering with local youth-serving, training organizations, Atlanta Public Schools and Workforce Development which now is managed under Invest Atlanta. I would also commit to utilizing City facilities to house these programs.
  • Alfred “Shivy” Brooks: My approach to responding to the water sales would be to guide the youth into more viable entrepreneurial and business avenues. I would guarantee a job for every high school aged student. Concurrently, I would invest in our parks and recreation centers and youth programs in order to fund mentorship and entrepreneurship courses. Additionally, I believe we should help redirect the youth water sales participants, through education and investment, into areas such as e-commerce, which can include many sub-arenas including social media, crypto currency, drop-shipping, etc.)
  • Brandon Goldberg: Some areas where the water sales take place are safer than others. Areas on the east side are safer. In Midtown where I live, they weave through moving traffic on scooters. That is incredibly dangerous and should not be tolerated. We should determine where this practice can be done safely and offer that information to the boys and drivers. Entrepreneurial alternative programs should also be offered. If sales continue in areas that are deemed unsafe, drivers purchasing the water should be aggressively ticketed. Unless the boys engage in threatening behavior to cars, enforcement action should be limited to the drivers.
  • Todd Gray: The issue is not water sales. We should always encourage our young citizens to build small businesses. The issue is a lack of direction or guidance. To add guidance and safety I plan to create more programs for the youth, and more opportunities for entry level employment for young adults who are expressing an interest in gainful employment or entrepreneurship.

City Council Candidates, Post 2 At-Large

  • Matt Westmoreland: Selling water to drivers at busy intersections is dangerous for everyone involved. Last summer’s advisory council on this topic found the average age of those involved was 12-16 and that they made $100-300 a day. The reopening of APS schoolhouses this Fall has helped over the past few months. The City needs to have our recreation centers and @Promise Centers open everyday until dusk to provide a constructive place for our young folks to go, and WorkSource Atlanta needs to be directly involved to connect those who are old enough and interested to a more-appropriate part-time job.

City Council Candidates, Post 3 At-Large

  • Jacki Labat: Youth selling water on the street, approaching drivers, is dangerous plain and simple. I will work to enforce the laws and ordinances that prohibit this activity and advocate to fully staff our police department – empowering them to enforce the law. However, because the juvenile justice system is so broken, I would like to see alternatives to incarceration handed down by judges. I agree that we need to create meaningful employment opportunities for those youth who are interested in working, but we also need a system of accountability and deterrents for those who willfully harm others and break the law.
  • Jodi Merriday: I commit to community and youth engagement and funding out-of-school time activities and entrepreneurship programs in partnership with APS, Atlanta Workforce Development, City Recreation Centers, and @ Promise Centers to address the prevalence of youth water sales. Our youth need APS, the city, non-profit, and private sectors to collaborate, fund, and fill a void. Foundational resources are deficient for many of our youth. As a city too busy to hate we should extend compassion, leadership, and solidarity to enterprising and entrepreneurially spirited youth by creating opportunities, programs, and structures that curate their self-determination in a positive direction.
  • Keisha Waites: I absolutely love that some of our youth have taken the initiative to become entrepreneurs. However, I am frustrated that this process is often unsupervised, extremely dangerous, leaves behind trash/debris, obstructs traffic and includes the harassment/intimidation of drivers due to aggressive sales tactics.

For this reason, youth water sales must immediately cease! Other cities tackling the same issue have had success with creating youth training programs that include stipends. Solution! Partner with Invest Atlanta and non-profits like United Way to get kids out of intersections and mentor them on appropriate enterprise by investing in their future and providing an alternative.

  • Sherry Williams: These youths clearly want to work, and that should be encouraged. I will create a task force involving stakeholders such as the Metro Chamber, the Atlanta Business League, the Atlanta Black Chamber, local colleges and universities, WorkSource Atlanta, the Urban League, and local unions that will be implemented through the city. This way we can create a pipeline for jobs in demand that pay a living wage.

City Council Candidates, District 6

  • Alex Wan: We should lean into the interest that these youth have demonstrated in entrepreneurship and work with our recreation centers and other youth service providers to develop programs that not only teach marketable business skills, but also offer, more importantly, meaningful earning opportunities. As an Atlanta education nonprofit executive, I will leverage my relationships across the sector to bring together other youth development and college and university leaders together to design such initiatives.

City Council Candidates, District 9

  • Dustin Hillis: For the number one reason – the safety of our youth – we must stop youth water sales where young kids are running in and out of traffic at major intersection. Groups do include bad actors as well, as evidenced by the overly aggressive behavior of some juveniles, up to and including shootings that have occurred. We must task APD with enforcing these laws that do not permit these type sales and instead engage our youth with assistance programs that help them find well-paying summer and after-school jobs when needed.