Tim Denson


Tim Denson at a Medicaid rally in 2015Commissioner-Elect, District 5
contact@timdensonforathens.com
(762) 499-4544
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Questionnaire Responses

Transportation

  • Do you support fare-free bus service?: YES

“Fare-free transit will make transportation accessible to all and will advance economic development and also economic & environmental justice.”

  • Do you support expansion of transit service (e.g. increased frequency, more locations, longer service hours)? YES

“Every school, voting precinct, & park in ACC should be accessible by bus. I’ll work to expand transit throughout District 5 & all of Athens.”

  • Do you support increasing the budget for bike and pedestrian infrastructure from the general fund? YES

“Bike & ped is a priority. Areas like Tallassee Road or Vincent Drive at the Holland Youth Sports Complex must have sidewalks or bike lanes.”

Criminal Justice Reform

  • Do you support marijuana decriminalization? YES

“It is unjust that black people are 4.7x more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite nearly equal usage across races.”

Environmental Sustainability

    • Do you support a ban or fee on single-use plastic bags? YES

“They’re harmful to our waterways, ecosystem, & recycling machinery and costly to tax-payers. A bag-fee is environmentally & fiscally prudent.”

Racial Justice

  • Do you support an Athens Civil Rights Committee established through the county government? YES

“It’s a start to fighting discrimination, fostering inclusiveness, & building a diverse bench of experienced community leaders.”

  • Do you believe that Athens-Clarke County should move forward with comprehensive non-discrimination legislation? YES

“We must, so that Athenians are protected from discrimination & have a way to pursue justice in a state that lacks civil rights legislation.” 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)

Systemic racism is a result of choices made by real people with access to political power. I will tirelessly dedicate my service on the Commission to dismantling systems of oppression and advocating for policy changes that tackle deep-rooted poverty and racial injustice. Our County Government must pursue racial justice and declare that Black Lives Matter.

From a policy perspective, I will advocate for policies that support black-owned businesses and black employment. I will fight to establish comprehensive civil rights legislation at the local level that includes an Athens Civil Rights Committee. For too long, Athens residents have faced discrimination and inequality with nowhere to go to seek justice. This Committee can also serve as a way to build a new generation of diverse leaders in Athens. In that same way, I hope that the policies found in my Open-Door Democracy platform will help put black Athenians in the seats of power that they deserve to be in. The under-representation of black Athenians in all levels of our County Government is a problem that has gone on for too long.

Further, I will work to reform our criminal justice system, starting by decriminalizing marijuana. It is unacceptable that, though marijuana usage is virtually the same across races, black people are 4.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. I will advocate for the creation of a Criminal Justice Task Force to assess our justice system’s practices. I will work to ensure that our criminal justice system puts fewer people behind bars and stops disproportionately targeting people of color, especially young black men. I will call out and work to end any practices that profit off of the imprisonment of Athenians and fight for bail-reform in our local courts.

Affordable Housing

    • Do you support repealing the single-family ordinance? YES

“It can inadvertently harm non-traditional households. We have other existing ordinances we can use to maintain family-friendly communities.” 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)

I will work with Athenians to implement affordable housing policy. I will not only support the work already being done by groups such as the Athens Land Trust and Habitat for Humanity but will also push for an Inclusionary Zoning policy to increase the amount of affordable housing being built. I will also advocate for the creation of Community Trust Funds so that communities can protect themselves from gentrification and create/maintain the communities they want to see in their own neighborhoods. We must amplify the voices of working-class and low-wealth Athenians so that their needs are heard, valued, and addressed.

Challenging Unjust State Laws

Q: 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)
I believe that the Athens-Clarke County government needs to feel legally empowered to do what is best for the people of Athens-Clarke County. When there seems to be a hindrance from State or Federal law in doing so, I believe we need to research both why that is and how other communities who have similar constraints have found levers for change despite limitations. If we find that laws or policies put in place by the State of Georgia are unjust, I believe it is up to all of us to stand on the side of justice.

Specifically speaking to TSPLOST or marijuana decriminalization, other Georgia communities have interpreted those policies differently in a way that has allowed them to include operational funding in TSPLOST and decriminalize marijuana. These communities have not been challenged on such interpretations. So, I believe that this shows that there is room for Athens-Clarke County to similarly interpret laws to advance solution-oriented action.

Childcare and Early Childhood Education

Q: 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)
Yes, I do 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. I will fight to ensure that every Athenian has access to high quality, affordable child care. Parents should never have to choose between guaranteeing quality care for their children or taking a job to support their family.

On the Commission, I would like to explore options for the M&C to collaborate with the school district and private child care providers to create more high-quality, affordable, public early learning opportunities such as those offered by Clarke County’s Early Learning Center.

Poverty

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: (click to read)
Too often the wealthiest, those at the top, benefit from our economy and “economic development”. What about developing the economies of working class people? The systemic poverty that has attacked 38% of our County can only be beaten with systemic solutions.

I will actively develop and support policies that establish living wages and encourage the creation of living wage jobs so that all families can enjoy the economic security we all deserve. Our County Government must take action to drastically lower our 38% poverty rate. I will fight to ensure that every Athenian has access to high quality, affordable child care. Parents should never have to choose between guaranteeing quality care for their children or taking a job to support their family. I will advocate for affordable housing through policies such as inclusionary zoning, where a certain percentage of new units are designated to be affordable for working class Athenians. I will advocate for policies that support black-owned businesses and ensure that Athens-Clarke County is a place where black entrepreneurs and black workers can prosper. I will continue to work to transition Athens Transit to a fare-free service. This will leave more money in the pockets of Athenians that can be used to better their lives.

Open-Ended

Q: What is your most important policy priority for 2018? A: (click to read)
I will prioritize empowering the many Athenians in District 5 and across the county who have historically been left behind and have had no voice in the decisions that shape our community. I want to revolutionize the way that our County Commission and government works. Let’s give the people a seat at the table. Let’s work with them to research the problems for our county, let’s create policy with them, let’s advocate alongside them, and pass legislation that addresses the real problems in people’s lives. Do we want the best transit system in the country? Then let’s empower and listen to transit riders. How do we create more affordable housing? Let’s listen to and prioritize the needs of low-wealth and working-class Athenians who need that housing.

We can do this through the creation of People’s Assemblies in every county district so residents know they have a place to go to talk about the issues that matter to them. We can also create productive resident-led committees tasked with focusing on the important issues facing Athens such as human rights, criminal justice reform, and education.