Bill Overend

Candidate for Commission, District 7
Bill’s Facebook

Questionnaire Responses


  • Do you support fare-free bus service?: YES

“Please see for a detailed response.”

  • Do you support expansion of transit service (e.g. increased frequency, more locations, longer service hours)? YES

“Please see for a detailed response.”

  • Do you support increasing the budget for bike and pedestrian infrastructure from the general fund? YES

“Please see for a detailed response.”

Criminal Justice Reform

  • Do you support marijuana decriminalization? YES

“Please see for a detailed response.”

Environmental Sustainability

  • Do you support a ban or fee on single-use plastic bags? YES

“Please see for a detailed response.”

Racial Justice

  • Do you support an Athens Civil Rights Committee established through the county government? YES

“Please see for a detailed response.”

  • Do you believe that Athens-Clarke County should move forward with comprehensive non-discrimination legislation? NO

“Please see for a detailed response.” Q: White people still hold a hugely disproportionate amount of economic and social power in Athens-Clarke County. If elected, what will you do to help fight this structural imbalance, increase the economic security of, and ensure the equal treatment of Athenians of color; especially black Athenians who continue to be most targeted by past and present systems of oppression? A: (click to read)

Having lived in Athens for almost 30 years, the most striking thing to me is the pattern of systematic exodus of most of the “best and the brightest” young African American men and women who are born and raised in Athens. They graduate high school, go to college and after obtaining their degree(s) they just don’t come back home. The lure of cities with large populations of African-American young professionals like Washington D.C., Houston, and (of course) Atlanta is just too strong.

This has become a viscous cycle to the point that in Athens we now have a disproportionally small “black middle class” – certainly nowhere near as prominent as in the aforementioned cities. Of course, it doesn’t help that at UGA white students outnumber black students approximately 10 to 1. So not only are we losing our brightest and most ambitious young minds to more socially and economically diverse cities like Atlanta, Houston and Washington, DC., we have a extremely limited population of black college students to draw from as well.

Honestly, I don’t know what can be done to reverse this trend and to have a truly diverse Athens, along the entire socio-economic scale. I’ve been having some version of this conversation with a variety of long-time Athens residents, black and white for several years now, and no one has been able to come up with an easy or obvious solution. I think encouraging minority entrepreneurship is certainly one avenue that needs further pursuit. I don’t know what sort of effect the ACCUG could have on influencing UGA to become more diverse, but that is another avenue to explore as well. I haven’t figured out an answer, but I’m committed to keep asking questions until we do.

Affordable Housing

  • Do you support repealing the single-family ordinance? NO

Please see for a detailed response.

Q: Rising rents and the proliferation of luxury student apartment complexes has been a major issue in town for the past several years. What will you do to promote affordable housing in Athens for its current residents? A: (click to read)
I reject the premise that rents are too high. Athens rents are generally at or below the Georgia average, which is below the national average. For example, the 2BR, 2BA apartment I paid $600/month for in 1992 currently rents for $1000/month. Given an average inflation rate of 2.21% per year since 1992, that’s slightly less than the rate of inflation during the same time period. Given that the neighborhood is much safer than when I lived there 25 years ago and property values have likewise increased, I don’t see an that as an egregious increase in rent.

The perceived problem of “rents are too high” may be more accurately defined as “wages are too low.” We need to address economic development, REAL economic development to raise wages so that our technically affordable rents actually feel affordable.

My evidence is purely anecdotal, but the average single 29 year-old young professional in Atlanta would LOVE to pay Athens rent. Of course, his or her job – the one paying them a high five-figure salary – is in Atlanta. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s, my Atlanta friends were envious of the rent I paid in Athens, but were a lot less envious of the opportunities for mid to high-wage jobs here.

The “luxury student apartments” issue is a tricky one. I’m not a huge fan of the recent student housing projects, but I would rather have private investment in additional student housing than additional dorms form which we receive no property tax revenue.

As for low-income housing, I have been encouraged with the success of the Columbia Brookside project on Hancock. We need to pursue more public/private opportunities such as that project and move away from the highly flawed section 8 public housing model. Bethel Midtown Village is a prime opportunity for such a project and we should take a look at the potential of that site right away.

Challenging Unjust State Laws

Q: County Attorney Bill Berryman has recommended inaction on certain issues in order to avoid, in his view, potential conflicts with state law. These issues have included operational funding in TSPLOST, marijuana decriminalization and comprehensive non-discrimination legislation. Citing his interpretations, the Mayor and Commission have elected to take little to no action on these and similar issues. Do you support a different approach, even if it may lead to Athens-Clarke County challenging state law? A: (click to read)
As a practicing courtroom attorney for over 15 years, I have never been one to shy away from a legal “fight” when the situation demands. And I have disagreed with several decisions advised/made by the County Attorney’s office in the past. For example, pursuing a case AGAINST Nuci’s Space tax exempt status was a waste of resources – regardless of one’s personal opinion of whether they “deserved” that status (I think they do, BTW).

On a case-by-case basis, we need to be willing to “pick some fights” that we can win if it means better local government. But, we also need to recognize that, as a a local city/county government, we are the lowest rung of legislating in the state. We often simply don’t have the power or authority to “fix” things with local legislation, as much as we might want to. And we don’t need to waste resources on fights we can’t win.

Childcare and Early Childhood Education

Q: Lack of funding in the CAPS program means that there is an “early learning gap” of over 2,000 children in Athens. There is also a lack of quality rated childcare providers here. Turning this situation around would be quite expensive and difficult, but also extremely important to the lives of many Athenians. Do you support policies that would expand access to childcare subsidies, encourage more childcare providers to become quality rated, and incentivize quality rated providers to accept children receiving subsidies? A: (click to read)
Generally, yes.


Q: The rates of poverty and income inequality in Athens remain extraordinarily high. What will you do to specifically support low-income and low-wealth Athenians? A: (click to read)
It sounds cliche, but we need more (or better) jobs. The unemployment rate in Athens is relatively low – certainly in comparison to our poverty rate, but average wages are also very low compared to other similar communities. We need to attract more 21st century industry to Athens that provides a wide-range of quality employment for blue and white collar workers.


Q: What is your most important policy priority for 2018? A: (click to read)
Better government. I know that sounds trite, but unification of city/county services was supposed to bring us – the citizens of Athens-Clarke County – a more efficient government that provides better services. The reality is that a bureaucracy has been allowed to grow and flourish whose primary goal is to sustain itself. Our government has ceased to be responsive to the needs of the community because it is in many ways controlled by unelected staff with no accountability to the community. (The fact that a significant portion of this unelected staff lives outside the county is a concern as well.) So my most important priority is putting government back to work for the citizens of Athens-Clarke County.

While we are blessed with many good things in this community, we are hampered with a disproportionally small tax base. Our county population is the 19th largest in the State, our geographical area is the smallest. When you subtract almost of third of that already small area for non-taxable public property, the conclusion is that we are ALWAYS going to be struggling to pay for what we want our government to do.

The subjects of this questionnaire, and other challenges our community face require public capital to address and fix. We need to cut down on the (in some cases rampant) waste in our various government departments so that we have all of our limited tax resources available to address these challenges. That’s my first priority, because it gives us the best chance to address all of the other priorities.