Jerry NeSmith

District 6 Commissionernesmith
Represents West Athens, Mitchell Bridge, Georgia Square Mall areas.
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Professional and Civic Experience
Director of information systems at UGA’s office for research (2006-present)
Founding Director, Treasurer of Athens Farmers Market, LLC (non-profit) (2008-present)
Member, ACC Planning Commission (2003-present)
Founding Co-Director, UGA research computing center (2004-2010)
IT Manager, Emory University (2001-2003)
Account Executive, US federal contractor, civilian agencies, Washington, DC (1991-1997)

Wichita State University and the University of Alabama (1970)

Party Affiliation
Primary Ballots: Often takes Democratic primary ballots, but not exclusively.
Donations: Donated to John Barrow (D) in 2006.
Fundraising: On the fundraising committee of Houston Gaines (R) in 2017.

Inferred Party: Unclear

red x  Issues: Affordable Housing

Voted YES on re-zoning Mitchell Street without using the county’s leverage to ask for some affordable units in the new development.

red x Issues: Complete Streets and Alternative Transportation

Regarding the list of projects to be selected for the upcoming TSPLOST referendum, as reported in the Athens Banner-Herald, “I hope that we will narrow this down to projects that are more conventional transportation.”

May 9, 2017 Work Session

green check1  Issues: Living Wages

“I don’t understand how you can say someone isn’t skilled enough to make a living wage. It’s a living wage.”

May 12, 2016 Work Session

green check1  Issues: Fare-Free Transit for K-12 students

“We do a lot of things that are free, paid for by taxpayers.  This is just another one.”

July 19, 2016 Agenda-Setting Session


Voting Record

  • 2017
    Moratorium on Downtown Development: NO
    Progress on Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan: YES
    TSPLOST project list and referendum: YES
    Re-zoning Mitchell Street: YES
    (More information about 2017 votes)

  • 2016
    Apply for ‘Go Transit’ grant funding: YES
    Complete Streets Improvements for Chase: YES
    Allow Sale of Growlers in Brewpubs: YES
    Fare-Free Bus Rides for K-12 Students: YES
    Bar Admittance and Civil Rights Committee: NO
    (More information about 2016 votes)

  • 2015
    Pro-Chicken: absent
    FY 2016 Budget: YES
    Removing Wetland Buffers: NO
    Delay repaving of Chase Street: YES
    Adopt Securus Tech Contract: YES
    Allow Food Trucks: YES
    Keep Domestic Partnership Benefits: YES
    (More information about 2015 votes)


    Questionnaire Responses

    An upcoming T-SPLOST program is projected to yield millions of dollars of additional revenue for ACC transportation infrastructure over the next five years. How do you believe we should prioritize the allocation of this revenue, assuming the measure passes?

    “a. Complete streets features such as sidewalks, bike lanes, road diets, pedestrian crossings
    b. Expanded public transit
    c. Street paving/maintenance
    d. Electric car charging stations”

    How will you act to implement complete streets in Athens? Which areas of town do you feel are most in need of infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

    “a. I continue to press the Mayor for a complete streets ordinance.

    b. I continue to press the Mayor for new zoning/land use regulations for commercial corridors that abut residential neighborhoods.

    c. Needs:
    i. Prince Av from loop 10 to Dougherty
    ii. Boulevard (Northwest of town)
    iii. Chase

    d. NOTE: I do not believe that Commissioners are the best source of these priorities. An ad hoc citizens committee should be formed to make recommendations and justifications for those priorities.”

    Water buffers were narrowly voted down last summer and the proposed Green Building Ordinance has sat untouched for years. What role, if any, do you think the ACC government should play in protecting the environment, addressing climate change, or promoting sustainability? Are there any specific policies or programs you would like to implement in 2016?

    “a. I supported the wetlands buffer ordinance and believe it should be adopted.

    b. ACC should take advantage of the Solarize Athens initiative using funds available.

    c. ACC should formalize a set of goals for solarizing its properties, especially water and sewage treatment plants.

    d. Additional electric car chargers should be available downtown.

    e. Shopping centers should be incentivized to install electric car chargers.

    f. ACC should continue to fund and support efforts to retrofit more efficient lighting (LED) and HVAC systems.”

    A recent study has shown that there is a shortage of affordable housing needed by our workforce in Athens. What changes to our local code or other incentives will you advocate for in ACC? Would you consider an inclusionary zoning ordinance?

    “a. I will seriously consider a inclusionary zoning ordinance.

    b. I think tax incentives, similar to TADs, should be implemented in appropriate locations, such as apartments and certain neighborhoods. These incentives provide tax incentives for their re-development.

    c. Some of our zoning/land use ordinances need to be re-examined in terms of their minimum home size, setbacks, etc., to make building of workforce housing more affordable.”

    While the movement grows around the country to raise the minimum wage and many municipalities are setting higher standards (as much as $15/hr by 2020), Georgia has a law prohibiting localities from setting their own minimum wage. Do you see low wages as a problem in Athens? If so, how will you support working class Athenians in light of such barriers from the State legislature?

    “a. I do see low wages as a problem for Athens.

    b. The State legislature should be encouraged by ALL local governments to either raise the minimum (state) wage or to allow local governments to decide.

    c. ACC government should implement a living wage for all employees and revisit that wage limit annually. ”

    Sexual assault is a serious problem in Athens as it is around the country, and the problem isn’t only on campus. What will you do to help build a culture of consent in our community?

    “a. This is, first, an issue of education about what consent is; what it means; how it is communicated. Kids who grow up believing that they and others have the right to control their own bodies are better-equipped to initiate respectful touch, to clearly say yes or no when touch is offered, and to interfere when they see someone else being violated.

    b. There is a rich set of aids (games, documents, discussion guidelines), available to teachers, Sunday School teachers and parents, designed to teach the concept of respectful touch and clear consent. Those materials should be made readily available to those teachers, scout leaders, etc. (These games and aids should only be used with parental consent.)

    c. Public health services and schools need to provide materials such as those available from Our Feminist Playschool to give parents a new perspective on the importance (and how to) include concepts and practices of consent into their parenting.

    d. People should be encouraged to get involved when they see what might be abusive or nonconsensual activities, whether the activity is sex or not.

    e. I should behave with respect to the concept of a culture of consent.”

    The county officially cut the ribbon on our expanded jail (priced at $77 million) in October. What will you do to reduce the number of people spending time in our county jail each year?

    “a. Decriminalize possession of marijuana.

    b. Expand the use of Drug Courts, DUI courts, Veterans courts and other Restorative Justice instruments.”

    Do you support the creation of a Human Relations Commission to hear, review, and make recommendations on discrimination complaints in Athens?

    “I do.”

    What, in your opinion, is the biggest problem facing Athens and how will you address it in 2016?

    “a. Workforce housing has come front and center for me and others on the Commission, I believe. I will vigorously support tax incentives that will encourage the private sector to redevelop workforce housing. I will also support inclusionary zoning.

    b. Close behind is changing the economics and competitiveness of our suburban, auto-centric commercial corridors (Atlanta Highway, Lexington Road, for example). Our zoning/land use ordinances must be made appropriate for the commercial development in these corridors that we need for commerce, resulting in more employment and tax revenue to support public safety, transit, infrastructure, education and other essential services.

    c. At the same time, land use ordinances for such corridors as Prince Avenue must be changed to protect the values of the surrounding neighborhoods with regard to commercial encroachment, traffic (auto, pedestrian, bicycle) safety, and quality of life.”

    What accomplishment are you most proud of during your time in local government?

    Jerry served on the Planning Commission for nine years and has served as a County Commissioner for three.

    “a. As a Planning Commissioner I was proud of the changes in our zoning ordinances, including making Conservation Subdivisions more meaningful, rather than an loophole for building dense, low-quality housing and degrading the greenbelt.

    b. As a Planning Commissioner I was proud to participate in prohibiting clear cut and mass grading practices and the tree (canopy) ordinance.

    c. As a Planning Commissioner I always tried to understand the negative impacts and positive impacts of a proposed development or zoning changes, especially on surrounding residential neighborhoods and place protection of those neighborhoods at the top of my considerations and decision-making.

    d. As a Planning Commissioner it was important to be sure that developers heard the opinions of the neighbors affected by their proposals and that their proposals considered ways to minimize these effects.

    e. As a County Commissioner, I am gratified by the Urban Agriculture ordinance.

    f. I am gratified about Sunday Bus Service.

    g. I am proud that we were able to balance the budget, even during the hard times, while respecting our citizens’ needs as much as possible.

    h. I am proud of my support of the Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission.

    i. I am proud of my success in raising awareness and finding a way to save the Rowland property on Atlanta Highway at no tax payer expense.

    j. I am proud that I supported the Wetlands Buffer ordinance, even though it failed. I will continue to support it.

    k. I am hopeful and committed to efforts to improve the economic viability of Atlanta Highway.

    l. I am hopeful about continuing to press for a Complete Streets ordinance.

    m. I am proud of the services that I have provided to my constituents.”