"Oh, crap, is that Jadeveon Clowney?" From left, ex-UGA quarterback Aaron Murray, state Rep. Chuck Williams (R-Watkinsville) and House Speaker David Ralston.
Flagpole's been covering most of the candidates for Athens-Clarke County Commission for months now, but a couple of surprise newcomers did qualify earlier this month—Sharyn Dickerson and Dustin Kirby.
Dickerson is running against Commissioner Doug Lowry, who represents District 1, including Winterville and the rural parts of the Eastside. The mother of three is a resident of Blue Heron Road, off Morton Road, is involved with the Whit Davis School Parent-Teacher Organization and works as a consultant after having served as ACC's first recycling coordinator until 2005.
Dickerson said that her main issue is drawing more investment to the Eastside. The Westside is booming, but development has not kept pace on the Eastside, she said, pointing to vacant storefronts in shopping centers. She also said she wants to offer businesses incentives to stay in Clarke County. "I'm worried that with Oconee County developing the way it is, we're losing out to Oconee," she said.
Dickerson said she is also concerned about water in the long term—though we're not currently in a drought, another one is inevitable—and that she strongly supports efforts to protect the environment. Unlike Lowry, she said she believes the county Solid Waste Department is doing a great job with its recycling program.
In District 3 (downtown, Cobbham, Boulevard, the Hancock Corridor and Rocksprings), Dustin Kirby joins an already-crowded field that includes Herb Gilmore, Melissa Link and Rachel Watkins.
Kirby is a Duke University and University of Georgia School of Law graduate and a criminal defense lawyer who started his career in the public defender's office. "It was a side of life I'd never seen before," he said.
Kirby said his experience in criminal defense, coupled with his more affluent upbringing, would help him to represent a diverse district that includes some of the poorest and some of the wealthiest parts of Athens. He's a Spanish speaker (the Miami native's mother is Panamanian) and also wants to work to integrate the Hispanic community into the broader Athens community.
His legal background would also be useful as a commissioner in helping to write ordinances, as would his professional ability to argue a point and disagree civilly, he said.
Although commissioners have little influence on education, solving Athens' crime and poverty problems starts with schools, Kirby said. He also wants to focus on economic development. "People need a way to make money, or they'll find ways to make money we might not like," he said.
On the issue du jour in District 3, Prince Avenue, Kirby, who lives downtown, said he is a fan of walkable mixed-use neighborhoods and agrees that crossing Prince is dangerous, but he's on the fence about a road diet because traffic still needs to move in and out of town.
Master Plan Setback: Downtown master plan czar Jack Crowley has been out of town and said last week he wouldn't be ready to present the final draft to the Athens Downtown Development Authority at its Tuesday, Mar. 18 meeting. It will be ready by the end of the month, he said. Crowley is writing a series for Flagpole on the plan—see p. 9 and visit flagpole.com to catch up.
Aaron Murray Honored: State representatives had their pictures taken with honored former UGA quarterback Aaron Murray Wednesday, Mar. 12 at the Capitol for winning the national title winning an SEC championship his charity work. In addition to holding just about every UGA passing record in the books, Murray is involved with a number of nonprofits, including Extra Special People, a Watkinsville camp for children with development disabilities such as Down Syndrome.
Campaign Roundup: Cover boy/mayoral candidate Tim Denson is hosting a meet-and-greet at the Five Points firehouse from 3–5 p.m. Sunday, Mar. 23. Rachel Watkins is handing out yard signs and bumper stickers at Normal Bar from 6–8 p.m. Tuesday, Mar. 25.
Sign Stealing: Several Nancy Denson yard signs went missing on Oglethorpe Avenue last week. They've been replaced, but this is an all-too-common occurrence during election season. Here are a few tips for keeping your yard sign safe.
• Don't leave your sign unattended. If you leave the house, bring your sign inside.
• Microchip your sign. This will allow the authorities to contact you if your sign is ever found.
• If you don't have a fenced-in yard, consider investing in an electric fence. The shock won't be enough to harm your sign, but it will keep your sign from wandering off.
• Teach your sign never to talk to strangers or get into a car with someone it doesn't know (especially one sporting another candidate's bumper sticker).