Unlike some long-time commissioners who have opposed the folks elected in 2018, Mike Hamby has improved slightly as a commissioner since then. He was key in crafting the $4 million prosperity package, but the legislation could have been clearer on ways to use those funds, and his votes over the past year give him a C+ objectively. That said, the votes on which he was with us weren’t risky ones and he has yet to take a position on the Linnentown Resolution. In addition, along with Jerry NeSmith and Andy Herod, he co-hosted the fundraiser for now State Representative Houston Gaines in 2017 thrown by then-mayor Nancy Denson.Professional / Civic Experience
Publisher, Athens Believer magazine
Sales and management, Northeast Sales Distributing
Financial Advisor, J.C. Bradford
Undergraduate degree, Social Sciences Education, University of Georgia
Previous Races: Ran for Mayor as a Republican in 1994.
Donations: Donated to Douglas Haines (D) in 2003.
Fundraising: On the fundraising committee of Houston Gaines (R) in 2017.
Inferred Party: Unclear
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.
Granting Taylor Saulters a $250,000 settlement for hitting Timmy Patmon with his car: YES
Changing designated SPLOST projects to include the new judicial center (April 2, 2019): YES
Approving the revised proposal for the Mark’s easement (April 2, 2019): YES
Adopting a resolution 100% renewable energy: YES
Removing cash bail for local ordinances: YES
Changing yearly rent for East Athens Development Corporation et al. to $1: YES
Resolution in support of Athens’ undocumented community: YES
Approving list of items to present to local legislative delegation (including driver’s licenses for undocumented people, reversal of campus carry, wage increases for USG employees, income cap on HOPE): YES
Moving Work Sessions to City Hall: YES
Redesigning the Chase Street Corridor: YES
Updating County Anti-Discrimination Policy: YES
Reject Concept Maps for Athens in Motion: YES
Athens in Motion plan: YES
Bike Lanes on Barnett Shoals: NO
Delay Designating SPLOST Projects: NO
(More information about 2018 votes)
Progress on Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan: YES
TSPLOST project list and referendum: YES
Re-zoning Mitchell Street: YES
(More information about 2017 votes)
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: YES
(More information about 2016 votes)
FY 2016 Budget: YES
Removing Wetland Buffers: YES
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)
2020 Questionnaire Responses
- Do you support improving and sustaining FY20’s $4 million prosperity package? YES
- Do you support transforming our local EMS and 911 call center to be publicly run? YES
“And, we are already increasing the effort to move the 911 call center in house.”
- Do you support marijuana decriminalization? YES
- Do you support advocating for the creation of a workers’ center and investing in political education on labor and worker empowerment? YES
- Do you support DIA and AIRC in their efforts to protect undocumented people? YES
- Do you support establishing a community police advisory board (ACC police killed at least six people in 2019)? YES
“The Mayor announced just recently that we should see this advisory board moving into place this coming summer and I support these efforts.”
- Do you support ensuring that ACC does not use unpaid prison labor? YES
Q. How do you think ACC should deal with developers, including those who put up large student apartment complexes? Please give specific examples, such as a community benefits program.
A: “I am supportive of community benefits agreements. And, in some ways, our Planned Development Process allows for a bit of community, or neighborhood benefits, to be conditioned within a proposal. I do believe that if a developer is asking for a rezone, then a demonstration must be made as to how the neighborhoods impacted by the development will be better off. Some of the conditions in the planned development process that I have been a part of included building size, type of business, green space dedication, lighting requirements, stronger planted buffers, enhanced storm water control, traffic calming enhancements, required participation in yearly neighborhood meetings to address and concerns, and affordable housing stipulations.
Some examples of community county wide benefits that I’d like to see as part of development projects would be the ability for the developer to contribute to sidewalk and tree banks, or even perhaps a traffic calming bank. We are moving forward with an inclusionary zoning ordinance, and perhaps part of that discussion could include development of a Housing Bank as an additional opportunity to help address affordable and workforce housing. Moreover, an Athens Community Benefits Program should allow for conditions that help to make our economy work for all, including, local hiring preference, livable wages, and minority participation in development of projects. ”
Q. What can ACC do to promote affordable housing? What do you think of mixed-use redevelopment? Please give specific examples.
A: “There are several ways in which ACC can promote affordable housing and are currently working on. Creating an inclusionary zoning ordinance, which is already underway, is a good step towards helping with affordable and workforce housing. A review of additional affordable housing strategies will come to the Mayor and Commission by the end of the year and I anticipate that will include recommendations on tiny houses and housing type, an update on our single-family ordinance, and additional density opportunities. Work is being done on our Land Bank Authority to look at dormant property for home ownership opportunities. Making sure that the SPLOST approved money for affordable housing is utilized effectively at Bethel and elsewhere is key to generating more long-term support for affordable housing efforts in our community.
In addition to the on-going current work, we need to look for strategies to stop the gentrification of neighborhoods. The proposed additional low-income homestead exemption is a good thing and a good start. We need to support expanding our low-income home repair programs to assist with necessary repairs so that people are able to stay in their home and neighborhood. And, perhaps a Neighborhood Stabilization Bank could be established as part of a community benefit program.
I support mixed-use developments and they should be encourage it as part of redevelopment efforts, especially along our corridors that have been studied and identified as in need of redevelopment. Certainly, when we are discussing Tax Allocation Districts (TADS) within a commercial area, affordable and workforce housing needs to be included as part of projects in those areas if any building incentives are to be offered. Mixed-Use developments, if done right, can create new neighborhood centers and improve areas that are in need of redevelopment.”
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: “Athens’ economy needs to work for everyone and there are things we can do to help make that happen. Currently we are working to establish a Small Minority Business Center to help recruit, train, assist, and support minorities in Athens who want to make a living for themselves. Helping to grow the number of black owned businesses in Athens will help address the disparity in economic and social power. This can be done through minority business incentives and grants, as well as taking a look at ACC purchasing and contracting policies.
Furthermore, I think it’s important that our ACC workforce looks like our community, especially at the leadership level, and have been an advocate to fix that imbalance. Also, within our government, I’m looking forward to the work our Inclusion Office will do as we move forward in addressing imbalances and discrimination in our community. Our new Inclusion Office will help identify policies, such as purchasing, and others across our government, that have contributed to the inequities we see. I also anticipate that the Inclusion Office will work, along with others, ways our community can create the type of economic equity and opportunity our community deserves. And, I also am supportive of having the Inclusion Office recommend ways to strengthen local discrimination laws for all of Athens.”
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: “The Prosperity Package is the first time ever that significant local dollars have been allocated towards addressing poverty in our community. We have established a Prosperity Navigator effort that will consist of 16 community members who will engage, inform, and assist people in our community who are facing impacts of poverty- and work with them to find a path to something better. We have also posted job announcements for two grant writers who will look for private, public, and foundation dollars to help make this effort sustainable. No doubt poverty is messy, and the solution is likewise going to be messy. But, I’m glad this Commission is making the effort to focus on this and am hopeful that the eventual outcomes will be good for our neighbors in poverty.
Below are some specific examples and descriptions that Commissioner Thornton and I worked on and presented to the Mayor and Commission as part of the Prosperity Package that I hope will be discussed by the commission, and more importantly, with our neighbors in poverty as we try to create a community of opportunity for all:
• Health Care Navigators (accomplished with the recently approved Prosperity Package Navigators- with enhanced concentration on additional areas) to focus on: Outreach to determine health care or mental health needs, follow up to address health care needs, and EMS operation evaluation.
• Child Care Voucher Program to assist with child care by offering vouchers to private child care providers.
• Small Minority Business Development Initiative (ongoing) to provide facilities, training, and grant opportunities.
• Second Chance Education Grant that assists formerly incarcerated individuals who qualify to provide pathways to training and education opportunities
• Second Chance Job Placement Program proposes a partnership with public and private businesses to provide employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals who have gone through Second Chance Program.
• UpStaff Personnel is replicating a social enterprise of Green Opportunities located in Asheville that provides motivated job seekers with a pathway to career-track employment opportunities, while offering a screened, dependable, and diverse workforce for area employers. https://www.greenopportunities.org/upstaff/
• Youth Summer Job Program proposes partnering with local businesses to offer youth summer job opportunities.
• Create more Grand Slam opportunities.
• Grant Writers (2) who look at grants in holistic manner to find additional resources for Prosperity package. (Complete)
• Neighborhood Planning Unit Initiative Program to assist in developing strong neighborhood organizations and neighborhood community building initiatives within underserved areas.
• Redevelopment Community Support Specialist to assist residents in areas targeted for redevelopment.”
Q. How would you grade our current mayor and commission?
A: “I think our Mayor and Commission have done a good job working together through some tough community issues. One of the major successes, along with the citizens committee help, was developing a SPLOST list that was successfully approved by the citizens and includes $45 million for affordable housing- which is an amount very few communities across this country have put into any similar effort.
I also believe we are making sure to keep on the front burner discussions that have ruminated in Athens for some time- with work being done on these to offer some action- such as our criminal justice reforms, discussion on transit service expansion and cost, making sure we meet our water supply demands for the next 50 years, garbage collection review, storm water review, downtown development, and a plastic bag ban.”
Q. What is your most important policy priority for your first year in office?
A: “One of my most important initiatives is to continue working my fellow Commissioners, and community stakeholders, on the Prosperity Package. It’s one thing to come up with an idea, it’s another thing to come up with funding, and creating a plan. With the Prosperity Package it will be important to evaluate the outcomes and push for changes, if needed, for where it needs to go. SPLOST and TSPLOST afford us the opportunity to improve our built infrastructure, I see the Prosperity Package as a way to improve our human infrastructure.
Another priority is to look at areas we would like to see redevelopment and have already studied, and encourage that, and perhaps implement a TAD to help spur it along. These studies, that sometimes sit on a shelf, have made some good recommendations and implementing them would be good and would improve the specific study area. TADs are a good tool to make that happen; however, we have to be careful to make sure TADs provide noticeable benefits to the whole community. Redevelopment will be much more advantageous to our community in the long run. If something can be improved upon that’s already built, it’s much better for neighborhoods, our roads and streets, and so much more.
A major priority of mine is constituent services. Sometimes I am able to help, and sometimes there are policies in place that don’t offer an easy solution. Storm water issues are a good example of that–we need to review and fix that policy. Furthermore, we need to continue to push the state with regard to state laws that limit our abilities to control traffic and speeding in our neighborhoods.
I’d also like to find ways where we can offer incentives to our local businesses within our community to hire additional people, perhaps fix up the outside of their building, or even offer something to help when times are tough–which some days, for local businesses and people alike, seems like all the time. As a member of the Athens Downtown Development Authority we have created Façade Grants (exterior renovation), Reach Grants (interior renovation), Marketing Grant, Public Art Grant, and each of these grants offers money to help address local downtown business needs. And, we currently working on finding ways to assist our local downtown businesses with distribution of their product- food or otherwise- which will open doors and opportunities worldwide. These are the types of initiatives I’d like to see countywide.”
2018 Questionnaire Responses
Mike did not answer our questionnaire in 2018.