Atlanta, GA, September 16, 2013 --(PR.com
)-- “How would you spend $84,000 of taxpayer money?” That’s the question that Atlanta City Council candidate Jon Jones has posed to voters in his district. Jones, who is running in this year’s election for the District 5 seat, pledged to return the portion of the council members’ salary that exceeds $39,000 a year; and he’s inviting residents of the city to decide how to spend that money instead.
Last December, Atlanta’s City Council voted to increase their salaries from $39,473 per year to $60,300 a year – an increase of $20,827 annually. Council members who voted in favor of the 52% salary increase have stated that they believe the raise is much-deserved, saying that the time and labor spent doing their job warrants higher compensation. Jones, who doesn’t entirely disagree with that rationale, does believe that the vote was undemocratic and wants to draw attention to the vote as a prime example of government conflicts of interest.
“There are many hard-working Atlantans who live with the reality of being underpaid. The only thing that separates these people from those in the political class is that City Council members have the power to vote themselves a tremendous raise, while the rest of us do not,” Jones says. His platform, which advocates creating a system of direct democracy in Atlanta, encourages citizens to participate in the political decision-making process. If elected, Jones plans to implement a technological infrastructure that enables residents to cast votes on all City Hall initiatives via smartphone, telephone, and an online website he built called the Atlanta Direct Democracy Interface (ADDI).
On Jones’ campaign website (JonesforAtlanta.com), visitors are asked how the pay raise could be better spent. Through a forum designed to mimic how residents would input ideas using ADDI, Jones offers people the chance to provide opinions and input into how the 84 grand Jones will give back should be spent by the city. The $84,000 figure is calculated by rounding the raise increase amount to a clean $21,000, and then multiplying it by 4 years – the term that each Atlanta City Council member is elected for.
It should be noted that the current District 5 Councilwoman, Natalyn Archibong, voted against the proposed pay increase. A total of 4 council members voted “No,” while 10 voted “Yes.” The 52% pay raise passed, granting all Council members a raise; meaning that even Council members who opposed the raise will still receive and benefit from it. To date, Jon Jones is the only Council candidate that has pledged not to accept the pay raise. About the salary increase, he asserts, “The people didn’t ask for it. The people didn’t vote on it. Taxpayers didn’t approve it. So I’m giving every cent back to the people it belongs to!”
The election for Atlanta City Council will take place on Tuesday, November 5, 2013.