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The next County Commissioner of District 9 will be Ovita Thornton. While we didn’t receive the electoral outcome we had hoped for, we commend Commissioner-Elect Thornton on a hard-fought race and congratulate her on her victory. I may not be able to serve District 9 as a County Commissioner, but I am so thankful to have been a part of this campaign and hope that it helped, in some small way, to move Athens forward. Thank you to everyone that helped us in our effort to bring “Opportunity and Justice for All” to Athens, Georgia and District 9.

Thanks for everyone that believed in us. I remain a committed believer in social justice and the power of community action. I’ve been unable to reach Commissioner-Elect Thornton by phone, but please consider this my formal concession and congratulations.

As an epilogue to tonight, Mariah Parker for County Commissioner won by 13 votes! Of all of the joys of this campaign, none comes close to watching Mariah Parker ascend from postcard parties, to field director (pictured here), to our campaign manager, to candidate and coordinated campaign partner, to Commissioner-Elect. We are all so, so proud of her and extremely excited to support her as she takes the platform we all fought so hard for, then helps turn it into reality as the Commissioner of District 2!

Thanks for the privilege of working with you Mariah. I’ve been very lucky.

I hope - and believe - that this campaign may produce ripples we have not yet seen. In the meantime, Athens has my hope, love, and gratitude.

All the best,
Tommy

POVERTY REDUCTION

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.

TRANSPORTATION

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.

JUSTICE REFORM

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.

ECONOMIC JUSTICE

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.

EDUCATION

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.