Jared H. Bailey
Occupation: Commissioner and event director
Party: None given
Address: 145 Marsha Court
Athens-Clarke County has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation. What should the local government be doing to alleviate poverty?
The best way that the ACC government can reduce poverty in Athens is to have effective economic development measures that help create jobs which pay living wages to our citizens. In my first term, the commission authorized the creation of a new Economic Development Department that is charged with helping create and attract new business while retaining existing businesses in our community. The local government needs to continue to work with the Clarke County School District, Athens Technical College and the University of Georgia to ensure that there are proper educational opportunities for our citizens and that all of our residents understand the value of completing their education.
Downtown development has been a major issue the past few years. Is this a good trend for Athens, and if not, how can we curb it and/or encourage development other than student apartments?
The recent increase in student housing in downtown will create positive economic impacts for many of the downtown businesses and provide opportunities for some needed services such as a grocery store to come into the area. Increased density makes it easier to provide some of the necessary governmental services and reduces the number of per-person automobile trips by citizens living downtown.
However, since the number of people living downtown will quadruple in the next few years, there will still be an increase in traffic congestion and competition for parking. The water, sewer and road infrastructure will eventually be strained by such high density. It is time for ACC to consider either slowing future student housing development or upgrading our existing infrastructure in downtown. I believe that we need to be doing both.
Do you support expanding Athens Transit service, reducing fares and/or exploring a merger with the UGA bus system? If so, how would you pay for it?
Yes, I support expanding our existing bus service, reducing fares and exploring a merger with the UGA bus system. The commission recently requested that an in-depth transportation analysis be undertaken for our review in 2015. The outcome of that report will give us better insight into the optimum transit services we can provide to our citizens and strategies to pay for these improvements.
Athens is often pigeonholed as "business unfriendly." Do you support easing restrictions on businesses? If so, which ones?
As a successful local entrepreneur, former board member of the ACC Economic Development Foundation (EDF), former EDF small business development coordinator and current member of the Atlanta Highway Corridor Committee, I have firsthand knowledge of the process of licensing and opening businesses in Athens, and I do not believe that Athens is business unfriendly.
Our requirements for businesses are developed using public input during the process of creating our comprehensive plan. These requirements are consistent with state codes and are intended to create an environment in which businesses can thrive while the quality of life of all our citizens is protected. I do not see a need to ease restrictions on business because we currently have a very balanced system for working with new and existing businesses. I can also attest to the fact that the ACC staff works very hard to help ensure the success of new and existing businesses.
Are you in favor of the Complete Streets: Prince Avenue lane reconfiguration demonstration project? Why or why not?
Yes, I am in favor of the demonstration project. Both the ACC government and the Georgia Department of Transportation have recently adopted Complete Streets policies, and we need to follow them. In addition, scores of interested citizens and several members of the ACC staff have spent years developing plans and policies to make the Prince Avenue corridor a safer and better transportation route for the entire community. It is time that the ACC government listened to those insightful people and assigned more resources to the safety issues on Prince Avenue.
What other issues concern you?
The biggest concern that I have with our government right now is the limited number of items moving forward at the commission level. I will make it my priority in my second term to work closely with my fellow commissioners and our constituents to articulate a clear, workable agenda for the next four years.
I will also continue to push for progress on the following issues:
• Increasing neighborhood engagement.
• Effective economic development oversight with a strong focus on fostering entrepreneurs.
• Establishing sustainable land use and transportation policies.
• Having ACC become the leader in environmental stewardship in Georgia.
• Continued governmental fiscal responsibility.
• Ensuring public safety for all our citizens no matter what race, sex, national origin, or financial status.