Ovita has been an interesting voice on the commission and one who is unpredictable. She has her own take on what is right, and she follows her conscience. She has been solid on justice issues for the most part, voting against the commission’s designation of the judicial center as part of SPLOST alongside Patrick Davenport. We would like to see her apply the same scrutiny to developers, but she is frequently a voice for listening to constituents and for taking the time to craft people-powered legislation. Her characterizing the $4 million prosperity package as potentially “hand-outs” suggests a need to prioritize wealth redistribution, but her support of the Linnentown Resolution is a plus.Professional / Civic Experience
Board Member, Economic Justice Coalition
Executive Director, Georgia Clients Council
Official member of the Athens-Clarke County Democratic Committee.
Inferred Party: Democrat
(More information about 2019 votes)
- Do you support fare-free bus service?: YES
“I support for : for youth, elderly and those working for low wages.”
- Do you support expansion of transit service (e.g. increased frequency, more locations, longer service hours)? YES
“It will allow people to have more options for mobility.”
- Do you support increasing the budget for bike and pedestrian infrastructure from the general fund? NO
“This I don’t know enough about to have an opinion. I know pedestrian infrastructure is a need I have heard in my district. But maybe TSPLOST. ”
Criminal Justice Reform
- Do you support marijuana decriminalization? YES
“I support decriminalization of marijuana to address the disparity in prosecution of minorities and health issues.”
- Do you support a ban or fee on single-use plastic bags? YES
“I don’t support a fee on plastic bags but I could support a ban much like Aldi grocery store. Good for the environment.”
- Do you support an Athens Civil Rights Committee established through the county government? YES
“I strongly support an Athens Civil Rights Committee be established with real authority.”
- Do you believe that Athens-Clarke County should move forward with comprehensive non-discrimination legislation? YES
“This is long overdue.” 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)
Without being discriminatory, we need to find ways that qualified Afro-Americans and Hispanics are visible in our classrooms and in local businesses and institutions. I personally do not want white people translating my situation for me. While appreciate support but the best support you can give an African American is the same opportunities and respect. This may also need to be taught. This is even a greater problem for black women.
I would ask the power players the question; do you really want to change the structural imbalance, increase the economic security? If yes, step out of your comfort zone, let’s reevaluate policies that have oppressed black Athenians and change them.
- Do you support repealing the single-family ordinance? YES
“While I understand the ordinance, this is really an unenforceable policy. Until we address homelessness this ordinance is not equitable.” 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)
While some of these programs may be in jeopardy under the current administration, they are all worth advocating for to promote affordable housing in Athens. The local government can not work in silos, we must work with banks and to remove financial and credit barriers. This could be done in creative use of the Community Reinvestment Act.
The government must work with community groups to educate people at an early age that home ownership is a “wealth builder”.
Challenging Unjust State LawsQ: 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)
Childcare and Early Childhood EducationQ: 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)
PovertyQ: 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)
2. Through my employment, I learned out about an expungement program in LaGrange Georgia that would support low-income Athenians.Many people cannot find a good paying job because of an old criminal history. October 2017 the LaGrange Police Department held its first Record Restriction Day. Local judges, attorneys, and the district attorneys expunged criminal records of 50 people with a 184 charges. People with a history of arrests with no convictions or misdemeanors before they were 21 years old and had no more arrests for five years had an opportunity to have their records expunged. After the expungement process, participants were invited to special job fair in the next room. This is part of my platform not because it is a good idea, but it is solution for the poverty rate in Athens.
3. While I am not optimistic about all of the community surveys, including Envision Athens, they do provide valuable information if we use the information. One of the facts that came out of the Envision report, the majority of the industrial employees making above a livable wage, do not live in Athens, but is surrounding counties. We must help our local industries find employees with the soft skills, the work ethics, and technical skills for employment living in Clarke County; while creating and encourage entrepreneurship by providing resources and removing barriers to small business start-up. This could be done in the Human Community Development Department, which I believe is heading in the right direction.
I would try to tie these ideas to the Envision Athens and the Athens 20 year Comprehensive plan and other research. We have to stop all of these surveys, and use our monies on tangible infrastructure, and programs that can be measured.
Open-EndedQ: What is your most important policy priority for 2018? A: (click to read)
We have small group of community leaders and community stakeholders. But local government has to do business differently if we are serious about decreasing the poverty rate. We can begin by reaching out to many of the low income housing management companies, especially if these companies are receiving government subsidies and are not located in Athens. Athens taxpayers are picking up the tab for safety, social services, education and homeless programs etc. We need governmental intervention to help families become self sufficient and productive citizens.