New program gives people confidence in local government

Some Metro Atlanta residents have a say in how thousands of dollars are spent in their community.

Channel 2’s Dave Huddleston spoke with neighbors in northeast Atlanta about how a new program is giving people confidence in local government.

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“We had a lot of projects that we had considered, but we didn’t have the funding or the initial motivation to make them happen,” said Doug Wetzel.

Wetzel showed Atlanta City Councilman Amir Farokhi how the community of Candler Park decided to spend $100,000 through a project using participatory budgeting.

Farokhi gave the residents $50,000 and with another $50,000 from donors, the residents of Candler Park finally decided to open the park restrooms.


“I couldn’t tell you how important bathrooms have been to the park — the number one complaint for 20 years: bathrooms have been closed,” Wetzel said.

They also installed new benches and bike racks throughout the neighborhood. Wetzel said these little touches make a big difference in quality of life. This is the second time that Farokhi has given money to the people and allowed them to decide what to do with it.

“If there’s a little thing, a trash can, a broken sidewalk, it’s like a pebble in our shoe all day. We want to make sure the little things are taken care of so people love their city, love their neighborhood,” Farokhi said.

The Candler Park Conservancy has also planted persimmons and plum trees, which will one day bear fruit. Farokhi hopes this project will do the same for other parts of the city.

“I think the ideas are already there, the question is, are cities listening?” said Farokhi.

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