Patrick for District 1 and a Commission for Everyone
Athens has private man-made rivers for temporary residents, but not public sidewalks for those building a life here. Some of us live in ornate mansions, and others can’t afford to escape the moldy apartments our slumlords won’t fix. Some come to Athens to party, and others can’t get to the dentist. It’s time for change.
District 1 commission candidate Patrick Davenport can bring that change. He’s new to politics but not to the struggle for justice and not to the struggle of building a life in an unequal Athens. His campaign has clear ideas for action to improve the district and the whole community, and he faces an incumbent who has been working hard to push Athens toward a very different future — one of high profits for some and poverty for many.
Patrick grew up in a struggling working-class family in District 1, and his central focus is on building an Athens that addresses low incomes and an increasing cost of living. He’s proposing policies aimed at both sides of that coin. That means improving incomes by focusing economic development on what works for workers (not just corporate bottom lines): prioritizing businesses that pay at least $15/hour, crafting policy to encourage local hiring and giving the Lexington Road corridor the attention it needs to develop into an economic hub for the whole district. It also means helping with household expenses by supporting affordable housing policies and transportation improvements including expanded, more frequent, and fare-free public transit, as well as pedestrian and bike infrastructure that’s sorely lacking on the Eastside.
Patrick’s work for living wages with the Economic Justice Coalition (EJC), where he serves as president, shows his commitment to building a community where we don’t leave half of us behind to cater to those who are already doing well. The EJC has been instrumental in winning a living wage for all full-time county employees and, last year, — alongside A4E — a living wage for all year-round part-time employees as well. He’s also helped put the idea of living wages into practice as the driving force behind two worker-owned co-operative businesses.
His platform also shows his commitment to reshaping the criminal justice system that disproportionately locks people of color in jail and then locks them out of opportunity. As commissioner, Patrick will join the coalition working for bail reform, marijuana decriminalization and policing reform. While current commissioner Sharyn Dickerson has defended the Sheriff’s policy of cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Patrick has been a clear advocate for Athenian immigrants.
Finally, Patrick’s platform shows his commitment to tackling the specific problems of the Eastside, notably traffic, an onslaught of competing for-profit trash-collection trucks and the need for an urgent-care facility.
His opponent, Commissioner Dickerson, has shown herself to be knowledgeable and hard-working. Unfortunately, these commendable attributes have been put to the service of values that are out of step with her constituents and out of step with the needs of struggling Athenians. She has argued that the elimination of bus fares for kids under 18 wouldn’t teach them to “have some skin in the game” because getting where they need to go “has no value in it if they’re not invested.” She’s accused community members of class discrimination for wanting housing policy that prioritizes the needs of the poor and middle-class over wealthy out-of-towners. In regard to ensuring even a minimal living wage on which a worker can scrape by, she said, “It’s a little dangerous to start arbitrarily placing numbers on pay, because it diminishes the quality of someone else’s job.”
We need commissioners who work to remedy injustice, not justify it.
Voters in district 1 have a unique and crucial opportunity to influence a major shift in local government. If you desire to live in a community, rather than just a geographic space torn apart by economic and racial inequality, cast your vote for the candidate who will push for the policy change necessary to make this a city for all of us and not just a few. Vote Davenport.
Athens for Everyone
April 10, 2018