Candidate Questions

What will you commit to do to respond to establishments that abuse conditions of their liquor licenses?

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: As mayor, I will work with APD to determine the best way to enforce the regulations that exist. This is more a capacity and enforcement issue than anything else. We need to first build a relationship with the owners and ensure that they are aware of the appropriate regulations, and then build a better enforcement plan. For some, educating about the appropriate regulations will solve the problem, but for others, it will require greater enforcement before it is under control.
  • Sharon Gay: Licensing and code enforcement are two overlooked areas that drive crime in the city. We have the tools we need in the alcohol code already. Enforcement requires leadership and clear direction from the mayor’s office, coordination with city lawyers and police, and political will. We must fully staff the licensing unit, train them properly, and assure full accountability through data driven goals that are in line with the city’s overall charge to provide sustainable public safety. I will make sure that our licensing laws are proactively enforced and that the city is highly responsive to any complaints of violations.
  • Mark Hammad: This is actually a key priority of mine on my platform. Clubs that don’t adhere to rules and regulations are magnets for crime and criminals. I would support the maximum penalty possible for any violations, including revoking the liquor license. In addition, we need to step up and increase inspections and enforcement action on these establishments. We cannot allow havens for criminals to exist in our city.
  • Felicia Moore: Nightclubs and restaurants are great economic engines, but too many are operating outside the law. As our next Mayor, I will end the permissive attitude that allows people to believe it’s OK not to follow regulations and the law, and I will enforce the law.

In my first 100 days as our next Mayor, I will fill vacant code enforcement positions, investigate complaints, deliver citations, and call a meeting of all alcohol and beverage licensees and let them know that the law will be enforced and will include business closures if necessary.

  • Kasim Reed: I would enact a rule that an APD officer be required for security in these establishments, which accomplishes multiple improvements simultaneously. Firstly, an APD officer will be able to impose rules and procedures as a direct representative of the city, as opposed to a private security firm that may not prioritize enforcement. Secondly, I commit to revoking liquor licenses and where necessary completely shutting down establishments that do not change their practices. This problem needs action to set an example that violations will no longer go unpunished in our city. And lastly, it gives our APD officers the opportunity to receive extra income for their families and improve moral on the police force generally.
  • Roosevelt Searles: The clubs in Atlanta are getting out of hand and I can say that because I have witnessed first hand just how crazy it can get at these places. We have to be more accountable as a whole. My administration will create a division within the Police department called “The People’s Patrol.” Hiring 1,000+ residents consisting of veterans, ex police, social workers and certified citizens, tasked with the mission of responding to non-emergency calls such as noise complaints. We will introduce legislation enforcing citations and fines for businesses that abuse their licenses. This task force will operate between 1AM-7AM.
  • Richard Wright: Clubs that violate their liquor licenses will have those licenses revoked. It is that simple. To further enforce the severity of the issue to curb violence and shooting at these clubs, I would not be opposed to both shutting an involved club down permanently and even allowing for victims to file civil charges against the owners. My administration will require clubs to install cameras to take a picture of everybody who enters their club. We must require clubs to make the investment in their clubs to keep them safe.
  • Glenn S. Wrightson: As Mayor, I, Glenn S. Wrightson, would implement a graduated fine structure.Continued violations would result in temporary suspensions of license for graduated lengths of time up to revocation of license.To stem night criminal activity, I would propose closing bars earlier.

City Council President Candidates

  • Natalyn Archibong: I will strengthen the enforcement mechanism of the License Review Boards, Zoning Enforcement Officers, the Atlanta Police Department and our Finance Department to identify business operators who are non-compliant with their alcohol licenses. I am committed to enforcing our laws relative to the revocation of alcohol and business licenses of operators who are found to be operating as nightclubs under the guise of being a restaurant. We must fully equip our Finance Department to investigate financial records of suspected alcohol code violators. An alcohol license is a regulatory privilege – not a right. We must protect our citizens by strengthening the integrity of our licensing process.
  • Courtney English: Establishments that abuse and violate the conditions of their liquor licenses should face extreme sanctions ranging from hefty fines for each violation, each day, to forfeiture of the license, and closure. We will also create a special unit of law enforcement officers and constituent services officials that work after hours to ensure that patrons and business owners are operating safely and within the confines of the law.
  • Doug Shipman: ​​I will lead the council in a comprehensive review and approach to better and stricter alcohol licensing and enforcement guidelines. We need a full review and update to Chapter 10 (alcohol licensing) provisions to clarify and strengthen the limits and rules regarding restaurants, bars, and nightclubs to make enforceability easier. We need to increase the alcohol license enforcement resources and potentially expand and increase the penalties for violations. We should also consider adopting additional security requirements for certain establishments, especially those with a history of violations.

City Council Candidates, Post 1 At-Large

  • Michael Julian Bond: Clubs that violate Article 10 of the City Code should be penalized because they are abusing the public trust given to them as a privilege under special legal conditions. To address such abuses, I convened the Alcohol Technical Advisory Group (ATAG) II to conduct a full review of Article 10. The review produced recommendations that were added to the Code by the City Council. This year, community leaders shared additional concerns about violations of the Code, so I passed legislation to convene ATAG III, which will focus, this fall, on closing any loopholes that may be exploited by unscrupulous actors.
  • Alfred “Shivy” Brooks: I am in favor of initiatives that would facilitate an audit of and liquor license revocation for persistently noncompliant clubs. I also believe we can update the regulations involved in the initial granting of permits to be more stringent from the start. Finally, I believe a simple part of our overall solution to this issue is to limit the hours of operation of establishments operating under this umbrella.
  • Brandon Goldberg: As with any rule placed on a business, the city should enforce legal requirements. Businesses that violate the conditions of their licenses should be subject to penalties up to and including withdrawal of their liquor license. We should also strengthen mandates for businesses with a history of violence onsite to provide sufficient security as a condition of maintaining their liquor license. Patrons who violate noise ordinances should be ticketed, and the businesses should be fined as well for not implementing effective crowd control. For areas where this is a recurring issue, police should regularly be stationed onsite.
  • Todd Gray: To venues that abuse their liquor license, we will strictly enforce the laws that are in place, as well as increase the amount of licenses given to good actors so we build a city we can be proud of. We want Atlanta to be the destination for entertainment but not at the expense of our communities.

City Council Candidates, Post 2 At-Large

  • Matt Westmoreland: Earlier this year, the City Council asked the City Auditor to conduct a review of the Atlanta Police Department’s licensing and permitting division to outline deficiencies on this front (which included numerous vacancies within the division). While Council has strengthened enforcement mechanisms for violators, the short answer to this is APD must hold bad actors accountable, and the City must revoke their liquor licenses. End of story.

City Council Candidates, Post 3 At-Large

  • Jacki Labat: Establishments that abuse conditions of their liquor license and are found to be a nuisance should be fined, have their liquor licenses suspended and ultimately revoked for continued noncompliance. Businesses that are licensed as restaurants but operating as nightclubs should be publicly identified and held accountable. Club and restaurant owners should be required to provide a safe operating environment for patrons and for the community at large. However, even with most stringent of laws on the books, enforcement is key. We must fully staff our police department to be able to address this issue in a consistent and meaningful way.
  • Jodi Merriday: I will commit to ensuring that due process is provided, notice of violation served, and licensure rescinded following repeated abuse.
  • Keisha Waites: A liquor license is a privilege, not a right. The whole point of issuing business licenses and liquor licenses is for community to grant access to a market in exchange for being a responsible vendor and partner.When a business violates that agreement and the community’s trust, I fully support swift action, even if that means terminating licenses. If existing ordinances are not effective in addressing bad apples timely, I support strengthen existing ordinances. As a former State Rep, if necessary I partner with former colleagues at the Capitol to strengthen laws that give communities and neighbors more control.
  • Sherry Williams: We need to streamline the process of revoking their licenses. Clubs know they will only get fined the first couple times they get caught violating their license terms. Clubs should have their licenses revoked after a second violation. The citations should also apply to the property as well as the person so that people can’t just sell the club to a friend or relative.

City Council Candidates, District 6

  • Alex Wan: A group of neighborhood leaders from across the entire city that have been negatively impacted by these and other issues stemming from gaps in our alcohol code have been working on a set of proposed amendments that will strengthen the City’s ability to address those who have been abusing their privilege of holding an alcohol license. I will gladly sponsor that legislation, which I will look to include better mechanisms to ferret out clubs guised as restaurants, steeper penalties for infractions, clearer paths to revocation, and stronger public accountability and transparency from the License Review Board.

City Council Candidates, District 9

  • Dustin Hillis: As a member of the public safety committee, we requested an audit of the Licensing and Permitting Office within APD. The findings included numerous due cause hearings that had been heard by the License Review Board and recommended for punishment, only to have gone to sit the mayor’s desk for over a year. Our committee also received frequent updates on investigations and inspections around clubs that have led to many more due cause packages being prepared and sent to the LBB. I commit to further addressing the severe understaffing of L&P to ensure routine and complaint-based inspections occur frequently.