Athens lawyer Bill Overend announced today that he's running for the Athens-Clarke County Commission District 7 seat, representing part of Five Points and Macon Highway.
Overend—a former Flagpole staffer who ran for ACC Solicitor General in 2006 and has served as chairman of the ACC Democratic Committee and on the Athens Downtown Development Authority board—said that he believes the local government doesn't do enough to anticipate challenges or act to solve them, rather than endlessly studying the issue.
The full text of his announcement is below:
I am excited to announce my candidacy for Athens-Clarke County District Seven. During my almost 30 years in Athens, I have watched our unified government become more removed from the electorate—the people the government is supposed to serve. We have allowed a bureaucracy to grow that feeds on itself at the expense of the citizenry. Agendas are being pushed and decisions are being made by unelected staff, not our elected officials.
In my candidacy, I seek to return the government to the people of Athens-Clarke County. We need to increase awareness of what the government is doing. With a shrinking local press presence, the government should be aggressive about providing information to the people. This goes beyond mere transparency. Consolidated efforts to not just publicize but push information about what the government is doing are fundamental.
We need a government that stops being reactive and starts anticipating the changes and challenges facing our community in the years to come. Too often bad decisions and bad development are simply a result of a lack of common-sense foresight. We need a government that takes action, not just endlessly studies and discusses issues and looming challenges.
Finally, we need a government that’s accountable to the people it serves. We need our government departments to work together, not protect their own budgets and fiefdoms. We need a government that doesn’t waste our taxpayer dollars on projects or plans that never come to fruition, or if they do, cost far more than they should.
I love Athens, but I am frustrated at the lack of progress in this community. We need strong, focused leadership that insists that our government works for a vision of what this community could and should be- a government that works for us, and not simply to preserve the status quo.
I’m excited about the opportunity to provide that type of strong, focused leadership for Athens.
Overend will face fellow lawyer and Agora Vintage co-owner Russell Edwards in the May race. District 7's current commissioner, Diane Bell, has not said publicly whether she will run for re-election, but has reportedly told others that she will not.