Dave M. Hudgins
Party: None given
Address: 160 Bel Air Dr.
Athens-Clarke County has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation. What should the local government be doing to alleviate poverty?
I believe we need to make sure that we’re creating new jobs that can employ job seekers across the county. In the Fifth District, I think we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in job creation by working to craft a health care corridor anchored by the UGA Health Sciences campus and Athens Regional Medical Center. We can create green jobs that put our neighbors to work. Of course, I want to make sure that new development across the district protects and preserves our neighborhoods. First and foremost, new business coming into Athens has to be good neighbors to those of us who live here.
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 conversation on design standards is long overdue. I’m in favor of development downtown, but we have to make sure that the development that happens is in line with our community’s values. There’s been little to no action from the government on design standards so far, and we can’t wait much longer. We need good development, not eyesores downtown. I believe the way we get there is by starting the conversation in the community and, with appropriate community input, having the political will to take action. This isn’t just a downtown issue. Normaltown is in the Fifth District, and it’s growing rapidly. We need to make sure that we can encourage growth in Normaltown while making sure it stays as a walkable hub for the surrounding neighborhoods.
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?
As everyone knows, Athens-Clarke is the smallest county in the state, yet we have two independent bus services that cover much of the same area of service. Having a business background, it is obvious to me that these separate systems have inherent inefficiencies that should to be eliminated. It would take a change in the mindset of both systems, but smart decisions for the common good can be made by our elected officials in cooperation with UGA. The transportation study is a good start, and I will follow through with that effort.
Athens is often pigeonholed as “business unfriendly.” Do you support easing restrictions on businesses? If so, which ones?
I think we need more flexibility in our land use and zoning to allow businesses to grow in line with the neighborhoods they live in. But, from talking to new and existing business owners, I believe the biggest problem is in the process not in the code. If you’re a business owner, especially in the startup phase, you want to get up and running as soon as you can, but there are too many delays and uncertainties in the permitting process. These are not mandated by the law, but they are caused by inefficiencies in the system itself.
Are you in favor of the Complete Streets: Prince Avenue lane reconfiguration demonstration project? Why or why not?
I am in favor of the Complete Streets policy that has been adopted by the mayor and commission. The acceptance of that policy by the DOT puts in place a workable way to address all of the types of transportation (automobiles, bicyclists and pedestrians) when addressing street issues in the future. As for Prince Avenue, I am all in favor of gathering data and information to be used in the decision making process. I favor moving forward with a demonstration project.
What other issues concern you?
As I’ve said on the campaign trail, the Fifth District is my first priority. To me, that means providing the best constituent service of any commissioner behind the rail. I’m committed to being local, open, accessible, and easy to find for any citizen with questions or concerns about how their government is working for them.
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