Athens-Clarke County is the poorest college town in the US, with a poverty rate of 38%. One in five families wakes up unsure of their next meal. This is unacceptable. We know where we need to go, thanks to the example of other communities that have climbed this hill before us, and the data they produced along the way. I believe that, together, we have the strength, courage, and conviction to get there.
Since last September, our campaign has been meeting with local community leaders, neighbors, activists, and entrepreneurs. Through those conversations, a vision emerged … a vision for an Athens that offers opportunity, justice, and prosperity to all that live here.
Athens is the poorest college town in America. We have a 4.5% unemployment rate and a 38% poverty rate. This means that our city is full of working families, but suffering from a stunning lack of sustainable wealth. Our city’s charter promises a comprehensive anti-poverty program that has yet to be funded, or even created. In order to address the staggering poverty in our community, we need to implement broad, bold, and progressive policies.
Transit is a vital public utility, social right, and human need. It should be accessible to all, from Bethel Homes to Pinewoods, from Hwy 29 to Pulaski. Fare free bus service in Athens would ensure that need is met for all - including the poor - while also reducing traffic and emissions.
Athens must begin to reconcile past & present racial discrimination and begin to fight for and adopt policy to right these wrongs. To this end, we must prioritize and decriminalize marijuana offenses. Marijuana arrests are expensive, unnecessary, and disproportionately ruin the lives of people of color. Secondly, we must create a permanent Civil Rights Committee that will provide protection and legal recourse to those that experience discrimination based on race, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, and immigration status.
Athens is the poorest college town in America. As the home to the first public university in the state and one of the top universities in the nation, that is unjustifiable. To improve this, companies that come to Athens should be required to pay a living wage and existing Athens businesses that pay a living wage must be recognized.
While the County Commission does not have purview over the Board of Education, they can fight for fair access to lifelong education opportunities. Continuing or finishing your education as an adult should not be a privilege, especially in a city where upward mobility is scarce. Families should also be provided access to quality and affordable childcare, a resource necessary for improved social mobility.