Get to Know Your Local Government: the Commission


Editors’ Note: This is the final part of our series, “Get to know your local government!” by Avery Murdie. We provide a history of A4E’s relationship with each commissioner, and links to questionnaires where you can learn more about their stances on local issues. 

If you would like to learn about the powerful positions of the Mayor and Manager, you can read part two in our series, or read part one for an introduction to the Athens Clarke-County Unified Government.

Overview of the Commission

Map using color to designate the 10 districts in Athens-Clarke County.

There are 10 districts in Athens-Clarke County. While ACCUG has provided maps, it’s not easy to find out who your commissioner is.  You can contact the Board of Elections office at 706-613-3150 to find out for sure.

Athens-Clarke County Unified Government has 10 commissioners serving four-year terms. Half of the commission is up for re-election every two years.

Figuring out who your commissioner is

As we mentioned in the first part of our series on getting to know your local government, of constituent concern is the fact that if a person is not sure what District they live in, there is currently no online tool they can access to quickly and efficiently look this up. Not sure what District you live in? You have two options. First, you could grab a magnifying glass and a District map and guess.

Or you could contact the Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections office at 706-613-3150 to find out for sure. That’s it.

The 10 Commissioners stand around the Mayor

The ACC Mayor and 10 commissioners. Left to right, Diane Bell (District 7), Jerry NeSmith (6), Sharyn Dickerson (1), Jared Bailey (5), Andy Herod (8), Mayor Nancy Denson, Harry Sims (2), Kelly Girtz (9), Mike Hamby (10), Allison Wright (4), Melissa Link (3).

Districts and Commissioners

District # 1 – Sharyn Dickerson

Sharyn Dickerson is the District 1 commissioner. With an MPA from the University of Georgia, she is the President of Sharyn Dickerson & Associates, LLC (a business managements consulting firm).

Sharyn Dickerson, representing District 1, joined the Commission in 2014

Map showing southwestern Clarke County

District 1 consists of southwestern Clarke county, bordering Oglethorpe and Oconee counties, including the Winterville area

A4E Perspective: Dickerson has not always supported Athens for Everyone initiatives and has often argued against them using conservative talking points.

Get Ms. Dickerson’s voting record and questionnaire responses here!

District # 2 – Harry Sims

Harry Sims is the District 2 commissioner. A retired Fifth grade teacher, Mr. Sims holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Georgia.

Representing District 2, Harry Sims been a commissioner since 1993.

District 2 map including East Athens, Lexington Road, the Airport, and up to Athena Drive

District 2 includes East Athens, Lexington Road, the Airport, and up to Athena Drive

A4E Perspective: Sims has given decades of service to our community, but in recent years has become disengaged on several issues. Many constituents report he is unresponsive when contacted. If not in opposition, he is often dismissive to A4E initiatives and proposals.

Get Mr. Sims’ voting record and questionnaire responses here!

District # 3 – Melissa Link

Link is a tireless advocate for progressive policies and values.

Melissa Link is the District 3 commissioner. Currently a managing editor for a peer-reviewed journal at the University of Georgia, she was a UGA graduate in 1993.

Melissa LInk gestures to the crowd at the Morton Theater podium

Melissa Link, A4E’s 2017 Elected Official of the Year, has served as District 3 Commissioner since 2014. Photo from the 2017 A4E Annual Meeting. Courtesy of Wade Sheldon Photography.

District 3 is puzzle piece that includes downtown, Boulevard, West Hancock, with Vincent Drive to the North.

A4E Perspective: Link is a tireless advocate for progressive policies and values. She is a strong supporter of Athens for Everyone initiatives and represents an elected official who works for all members of our Athens community.

At the A4E 2017 Annual Members’ Meeting, Melissa Link was awarded the Athens Elected Official of the Year Award!

Get Ms. Link’s voting record and questionnaire responses here!

District # 4 – Allison Wright

Allison Wright is the District 4 commissioner. With an Master of Science from the Medical College of Georgia Medical Illustration, Ms. Wright is a self-employed Certified Medical Illustrator.

Allison Wright has served District 4 since 2013.

District 4 includes Five Points (South and east of S. Lumpkin)

A4E Perspective: Wright is well-intentioned and responsive to her constituents. She is also a more cautious and reserved elected official. Wright has not spearheaded any original legislation of her own and has, at times, been silent at critical moments on progressive issues.

Get Ms. Wright’s voting record and questionnaire responses here!

 

District # 5 – Jared Bailey

Jared Bailey is the District 5 commissioner. Mr. Bailey has B.B.A. in Business Management from the University of Georgia Terry College of Business.

Jared Bailey is the commissioner for District 5

District 5, north west Clarke County bordering Jackson County, includes Tallassee Road, Jefferson Road, and 441

District 5 is northwest Athens-Clarke County bordering Jackson County, and includes the areas north of Tallassee Road, Jefferson Road, and 441

A4E Perspective: Bailey has been an ally to A4E, including in the struggle for an Athens Civil Rights Committee. In his second term, he seems largely disengaged and disheartened. He often votes ideologically similar with A4E, but rarely initiates progressive change. We wish he would take a more active role in fighting for a community that works for all of us.

Get Mr. Bailey’s voting record and questionnaire responses here!

District # 6 – Jerry NeSmith

Jerry NeSmith is the District 6 commissioner. He is the director of information systems at the University of Georgia’s office for research.

The commissioner for District 6 is Jerry NeSmith

Bordering on Jackson and Oconee Counties, District 6 includes Atlanta Highway and the Georgia Square Mall and Bogart

Bordering on Jackson and Oconee Counties, District 6 includes Atlanta Highway and the Georgia Square Mall and Bogart

A4E Perspective: NeSmith has been an ally to A4E on most issues. He is an especially passionate advocate on environmental issues.

Get Mr. NeSmith’s voting record and questionnaire responses here!

District # 7 – Diane Bell

Diane Bell is the District 7 commissioner. She is the owner and a stylist at A Flair with Hair in Five Points.

Diane Bell has represented District 7 since 2014

District 7 includes parts of Five Points slightly north and west of S. Lumpkin, as well as Milledge Avenue outside of the Loop

District 7 includes parts of Five Points slightly north and west of S. Lumpkin, as well as Milledge Avenue outside of the Loop

A4E Perspective: Bell has not been a supporter of Athens for Everyone initiatives and has largely remained a silent, inactive commissioner. A4E would like to see a commissioner that is committed to the hard work of fighting poverty and inequality, as well as one that works to transform our community into one that works for all of its members.

Get Ms. Bell’s voting record and questionnaire responses here!

District # 8 – Andy Herod

Andy Herod is the District 8 commissioner. With a Ph.D. in Economic and Urban Geography from Rutgers, Mr. Herod is a Professor of Geography at the University of Georgia.

Andy Herod represents District 8

District 8 includes the between Gaines School Road, Lexington, Whit Davis and Barnett Shoals, and also includes the neighborhoods off College Station Road

District 8 includes the between Gaines School Road, Lexington, Whit Davis and Barnett Shoals, and also includes the neighborhoods off College Station Road

A4E Perspective: Herod has usually been an opponent of A4E initiatives. Often thought of as being “progressive​”, his rhetoric and action behind the rail do not back that claim. Many constituents report that he is dismissive of them or their concerns.

Get Mr. Herod’s voting record and questionnaire responses here!

Back to Top

 

District # 9 – Kelly Girtz

Kelly Girtz is the District 9 commissioner. With a Bachelor of Science in Sociology, Mr. Girtz is the Assistant Director for Student Services of Foothills Charter High School.

Kelly Girtz is the District 9 Commissioner

Comprising northeast Clarke County, District 9 includes the area between Nowhere Road and Spring Valley, with Danielsville and Hull Roads in the middle. The area also includes neighborhoods just to the north of Downtown, east of Pulaski Street

Consisting of Northeast Clarke County bordering Madison County, District 9 includes the area between Nowhere Road and Spring Valley, with Danielsville and Hull Roads in the middle. The area also includes neighborhoods just to the north of Downtown, east of Pulaski Street

A4E Perspective: Girtz is a solid ally and supporter of Athens for Everyone and A4E’s initiatives. He is both a strong communicator and has a strong commitment to progressivism. Girtz has proven to be skilled at researching and crafting progressive policy.

Get Mr. Girtz’s voting record and questionnaire responses here!

District # 10 – Mike Hamby

Mike Hamby is the District 10 commissioner. With a master’s degree in Instructional Design from the University of Georgia, Mr. Hamby is the owner of a small office cleaning business and publisher of Athens Believer magazine.

Mike Hamby is the District 10 Commissioner

District 10 shares a border with Oconee County, and includes neighborhoods south of Atlanta Highway, such as Timothy Road

District 10 shares a border with Oconee County, and includes neighborhoods south of Atlanta Highway, such as Timothy Road

A4E Perspective: Hamby has not been a supporter of Athens for Everyone initiatives and has made completely inappropriate personal attacks against his fellow commissioner, Ms. Link.

Get Mr. Hamby’s voting record and questionnaire responses here!

Mayor and Commission Committees

There are only three standing committees for the Mayor and commissioners. The Mayor decides what is sent to Committee, and both the Government Operations Committee and the Legislative Review Committee usually meet once a month. The committees are open to the public, but they will not take public comments unless the Committee Chairperson specifically requests information from the public. Session dates, online viewing, and the Committee calendar can be viewed here. Agendas are available as well.

  1. Audit Committee
    1. Diane Bell, Chair
    2. Jared Bailey
    3. Sharyn Dickerson
    4. Kelly Girtz
    5. Allison Wright
  1. Government Operations Committee
    1. Andy Herod, Chair
    2. Diane Bell
    3. Kelly Girtz
    4. Mike Hamby
    5. Melissa Link
  1. Legislative Review
    1. Jerry NeSmith, Chair
    2. Jared Bailey
    3. Sharyn Dickerson
    4. Harry Sims
    5. Allison Wright

The end

This concludes our series, Get to Know Your Local Government. If you would like to learn about the powerful positions of the Mayor and Manager, you can read part two in our series, or read part one for an introduction to the Athens Clarke-County Unified Government.

As mentioned in the story, you can learn more about the commissioners and their stances on issues by visiting the ACC Commission pages on this website.

 

Correction: A previous version of this story stated that Commissioner Jared Bailey was part of the Athens-Clarke County Economic Development Foundation. Mr. Bailey served on the foundation between 2007-2009.

 

Avery Murdie, April 19, 2017

Adam Lassila contributed to this story.

Photos and maps used with permission, courtesy of Jason Harwell, Public Information Media Analyst, Athens-Clarke County Unified Government.

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