City DopeNews

Melissa Link Launches District 2 Campaign and More Local News

Credit: Blake Aued

Former Athens-Clarke County commissioner Melissa Link formally kicked off her semi-reelection campaign with a fundraiser Saturday, Jan. 28 at the Hi-Lo Lounge in Normaltown.

Link represented District 3 on the commission from 2015–2022, but Republican state legislators unilaterally drew her and two other progressive commissioners out of their districts last year, preventing them from running for re-election. The unexpected resignation of Commissioner Mariah Parker, however, gave Link an opportunity to return to the commission if she wins a Mar. 21 special election against former school board member Kirrena Gallagher.

“We are a community under attack,” Link told a crowd of about 50 supporters, including commissioners Carol Myers and Patrick Davenport and former commissioner Russell Edwards. “For some reason, [Republicans] are scared of me,” Link said. “I plan to keep giving them something to be afraid of.”

Edwards, Myers and Davenport ticked off a long list of reasons for progressives to support Link, including her support for ACC’s commitment to clean and renewable energy, Prince Avenue bike lanes, Firefly Trail, inclusionary zoning, an anti-discrimination ordinance, police oversight, mental health crisis response teams, a city-sanctioned homeless camp, closing College Square to cars and ACC’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic—in some cases in the face of Republican attempts to thwart those efforts at the state level. 

“It’s important to have folks behind the rail who want to do things, who want to pass policies, who want to attack problems,” Edwards said.

Link also cited the upcoming redo of ACC’s future land use plan, which guides development and hasn’t been reviewed since circa 2000. “As our community grows, our problems today have a lot to do with decisions made 20 years ago,” she said.

While acknowledging that he’s not as far to the left as Link, Davenport said he immediately reached out to her about running again when he heard of Parker’s resignation, because she’s a vocal supporter of bike lanes and Athens’ music and arts scene. “With the wrong election, that could all go away,” he warned. 

While Link would appear to have the advantage because most of her old district overlaps with the new District 2, the broader issue is that progressives are mostly checked out of local politics, according to Myers. “Progressives are not showing up downtown,” she said. “We need to be there [at City Hall].”

Odds and Ends

Creature Comforts’ nascent union, the Brewing Union of Georgia, filed two complaints with the National Labor Relations Board. One alleges that management preemptively tried to classify several employees as supervisors who are ineligible to vote in an upcoming election to officially create the union—a decision that belongs to the NLRB. Another alleges that the company threatened to fire an employee to discourage union activity. In addition, Creature Comforts has hired a California law firm, Littler Mendelsohn, that’s known for union-busting, according to BUG organizer Joseph Carter. Creature Comforts has not commented publicly on the formation of a union.  

After 34 years as CEO of the Athens Housing Authority, Rick Parker is retiring in mid-February. During his tenure, Parker oversaw the transformation of Jack R. Wells Homes (aka Pauldoe) into the mixed-income Columbia Brookside neighborhood, and is currently overseeing a similar project at Bethel Midtown Village. He also helped create the Boys & Girls Club at the Clarke County School District’s H.T. Edwards campus and worked with UGA on $400 million in bond issues for housing and other projects. His replacement will be Connie Staudinger, who previously worked for the housing authority in Alexandria, VA, and is currently executive vice president at a Charlotte affordable housing development company.

Flagpole contributor James C. Cobb, the B. Phinizy Spalding professor emeritus of history at UGA, will give a talk about his new biography of historian C. Vann Woodward at 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2 in room 271 of the Richard B. Russell Special Collections Libraries. A public intellectual for more than half a century, Woodward’s interpretations of Southern history and race relations remain influential long after his death in 1999.

Almost two years after being declared unsafe, the Fowler Mill Road Bridge has been temporarily repaired and reopened. ACC and the Georgia DOT are planning to rebuild the bridge in 2024–2025.

Athens Transit is taking public input on a new five-year strategic plan through the end of February. Visit for more information.