From left, Davenport and Dickerson.
Incumbent Sharyn Dickerson is one of Athens’ hardest-working commissioners—she serves on the airport authority and led the Envision Athens community master-planning effort, among other endeavors. She was ACC’s first recycling coordinator in the 1990s, which led many voters to view her as the more progressive choice in her 2014 race against incumbent Doug Lowry, but since then some have been disillusioned by her criticism of fare-free buses for youth and living wage for ACC employees (though in the end she voted for both). Challenger Patrick Davenport—who helps manage a worker-owned cleaning company—is running to Dickerson’s left, calling for improved infrastructure like sidewalks on the Eastside. But the rural Eastside district is relatively conservative for Athens and may not be looking for a more liberal commissioner. Athens for Everyone and the ACCDC have endorsed Davenport, while most Republicans prefer Dickerson.
Occupation: Peachy Green Clean Cooperative
Top priorities (from Davenport's candidate questionnaire):
Poverty: If elected would be my main focus. We can tackle poverty through affordable housing, robust transportation, small business start-up, more support and awareness of small business ownership, fighting for living wages, and more involvement within our community and with our school system, and enhancing zoning and development.
2) Improving the quality of life in Athens: Having a more responsive government. More town halls and community input. More involvement with community organizations, the community and community leaders. More transparency and awareness. Finish the many damn expensive studies that are aimed at improving the quality of life here in Athens. More bike lanes, parks, community center, libraries, complete streets, sidewalks, street lights and infrastructure improvements. Never having to worry about having Fourth of July Celebrations cancelled due to funds.
3) Revitalizing East Athens. Bring more resources and sensible development to the East Side. Complete sidewalks, more bike lanes, expand bus system, more street lights, community center, urgent care, more reliable EMS, trails, parks, and shops.
Occupation: Commissioner and environmental consultant
Residence: Blue Heron Drive
Website: Sharynforathens.com, facebook.com/SharynDickersonforAthensGa
Top priorities (from Dickerson's candidate questionnaire):
1. Reestablish Commercial Air Service at the Athens-Ben Epps Airport. Continue to work on reestablishing commercial air service to our community at the Athens-Ben Epps Airport by working with the Airport Authority to develop an Air Carrier Incentive Plan, an Air Service Development Plan, an Airport Marketing Plan to present to the Mayor & Commission for approval. The Athens-Ben Epps Airport is one of only nine commercial airports in Georgia and a community asset that has the potential to increase economic development on the east side. A market study confirms there is a strong market for regional jet service to the three destinations of New York, Washington, DC, and South Florida (e.g.: Orlando). The study also supported the potential for daily hub service to Charlotte, North Carolina, which historically represented ACC’s last, fully successful service. The airport has the potential to initiate and accelerate some significant economic development for the east side (and really all) of Athens-Clarke County and could provide a variety of jobs (e.g.: terminal vendors, parking, baggage, ticketing, etc.) in walking distance from one of the lower income areas of our community.
Secure funding for an Eastside Library . Eastside Library should be readily accessible by five Clarke County School District schools (i.e.: Barnett Shoals Elementary, Whit Davis Elementary, Gaines Elementary, Hilsman Middle, and Cedar Shoals High). Continue working with the Athens Regional Library Board to establish an eastside Library location. Consider possible funding through a future Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax project.
Create a Municipal Broadband Network. If determined to be feasible, given a recent presentation to Athens-Clarke County, work to establish a Municipal Broadband Network. The goal would be to provide residents living in more rural portions of our community (e.g.: District 1) with secure and reliable internet access. Consider possible capital funding needed to build wireless network system through a future Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax project.
Finalize the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing. Identify funding and obtain Commission support in the Fiscal Year 2019 (July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019) budget to fund a Code Enforcement Officer to monitor and address multi-family housing ordinance violations in an effort to clean up housing complexes that have fallen into disrepair and provide incentives for redevelopment of these complexes, perhaps into mixed income housing where a portion of the units are affordable.
Support the West Broad Initiative. Support the use of $2.85 million in SPLOST 2011 Youth and Community Enrichment Facility Partnership project funds to accomplish a catalyst project between the Unified Government, the Clarke County School District, and the Athens Land Trust. The project would address commonly identified needs of Youth Development, Job Training, and Entrepreneurship, while preserving and showcasing a key cultural heritage site: the Old West Broad School and campus.