There was a large turnout at the Athens-Clarke County Library for the first mayoral forum featuring all three qualifying candidates Monday night. Former Commissioner Harry Sims, businessman Richie Knight and Commissioner Kelly Girtz answered questions from the audience and panel members.
While there was general agreement on many topics, including a property tax freeze for qualifying Athens seniors, the candidates differed on the sheriff’s department working with ice to detain undocumented immigrants; with Harry Sims supporting with the sheriff’s office and the others opposing the practice.
Audience member Nancy MacNair found the event, which was sponsored by the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement, informative.
“I was really pleased with the kind of questions that were asked and I come to as many of the AADM events as I can because I think they’re wonderful and they’re doing a lot in this town,” MacNair said. “I wanted to support this and I was just thrilled to see a totally full audience there, and I think the questions were excellent.”
Stephanie Gallagher wanted more information on at least one issue.
“Well, I really wished they would have discussed affordable housing in more depth,” according to Gallagher. “I wish they would have talked about homeownership more ant the lack of home ownership in the black community and I did not hear that, I wish I would have heard more of that.”
Gallagher also said she wanted to hear more about poverty, what it means for the Athens community and how much poverty there is in the Athens community.”
The election takes place on May 22, 2018.