Shalise Steele-Young has lived in Atlanta’s District 3 for more than a decade and was the wife of Atlanta City Councilman Ivory Lee Young, Jr. until his death in November 2018.
The Kansas City, Missouri, native has had a career spanning more than two decades as a professional social worker. She is also a licensed and ordained minister and founder and executive director of the Repairer of the Breach International Ministries, a faith-based nonprofit organization committed to bridging the gap between the needs of low-income and homeless individuals and families and services available to them in the Atlanta area.
We spoke to her about her political aspirations and her husband’s legacy.
Why are you running to become the next Atlanta City Council member from District 3?
I am running to continue the critical work over the next three years of my late husband’s term because I have a deep sense of responsibility and commitment to the residents and stakeholders of District 3. Service is my life.
What impact did your late husband have on your decision to run for public office?
Ivory had a tremendous impact on my decision to run for public office. As we were preparing for his stem cell transplant, he told me, “Shalise, if things don’t go as we hope, I want you to finish serving out my term on the city council.” … After deep reflection and prayer, I have chosen to run, both in honoring his request, but [also] in full faith that if the people of District 3 choose to elect me, it will fulfill a higher calling beyond my husband’s last request of me.
What makes you the best candidate for District 3?
I can communicate powerfully what the people say they need and want — in both their language as well as public policy language — to a wide range of audiences and leaders. I am comfortable with data and performance management, and I am very familiar with the legislative process, keeping a human services perspective always [at the] forefront in decision-making. I am committed to compassion, justice and creative new ways of thinking, collaborating, partnering and funding.
Name your top three agenda items for your campaign.
The top three agenda items for my campaign address what I see are the greatest challenges in District 3:
- Safe and clean communities and streets.
- Affordable housing that is truly affordable.
- Equal, fair resident inclusion that ensures strong, inclusive, positive growth in District 3.
I am also committed to addressing our issues in homeowner rehab and renters support; education and youth programs; job training and livable wages; small business and entrepreneur development; dumping; health and wellness, the environment; mobility and more. … What’s been missing in these critical areas in District 3 is a balance in our decision-making and funding allocation for human services-based needs and assessments. My top priority, if elected, is addressing this imbalance.
What are your qualifications to hold this office?
My qualifications to hold this office include my professional and life experiences as a social worker and minister, with extensive work across the city of Atlanta and our metropolitan region in various major nonprofits and initiatives, such as United Way, the Regional Commission on Homelessness, the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Human Services, and the Tri-Jurisdictional Continuum of Care. Living in Vine City with other community members and my children and grandchildren and being the wife of a long-standing city councilman have also shaped, molded and prepared me for this office.
The Atlanta City Council’s District 3 special election is set for Tuesday, March 19, 2019.