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A4E Gives Low Marks to Most Commissioners


Commissioner Melissa Link graduated at the top of her class.

Only three Athens-Clarke County commissioners graded higher than a C on a report card issued by the progressive political group Athens for Everyone earlier this month.

A4E’s grades were based on commissioners’ votes and public statements on the issues of transit expansion, fare-free buses, an anti-discrimination ordinance, Complete Streets, marijuana decriminalization, affordable housing, living wages, early learning and a plastic-bag ban or fee. “Champions” received extra credit for taking a leadership role on certain issues.

The worst commissioner, from A4E’s perspective, was District 7 representative Diane Bell, who received an F. Mayoral candidate Harry Sims received a D- despite opposing A4E on every issue the group tracked. So did Mayor Nancy Denson, who received an F. District 1 Commissioner Sharyn Dickerson also received a D-.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Kelly Girtz, who’s also running for mayor, received an A-. A4E praised Girtz for not only supporting all of its positions, but championing many of them. District 3 Commissioner Melissa Link, who’s up for re-election and faces a challenge from Tony Eubanks, received an A. District 5 Commissioner Jared Bailey, who will face Danielle Benson and A4E founder Tim Denson, received a B-.

Among commissioners who aren’t up for re-election until 2020, Allison Wright received a C-, Jerry NeSmith received a C, and Mike Hamby and Andy Herod received Ds.

A4E’s Chris Dowd noted that the grades are somewhat subjective, and said the group will modify them based on new information, such as if commissioners go on record supporting its stances.