Name: Ovita Thornton

Email Address: cdt_26@yahoo.com

Running For: Commission District 9

Are you a Democrat? Yes

If elected, will you work to enact the ACCDC platform? (Attached in the email we sent you.) Yes

Have you ever been a member of the ACCDC? If you have, please indicate your years of service and describe your work with the ACCDC.

I reactivated my membership at the beginning of the year. I signed up for the District 9. I was active many years ago with Margaret Martin.

Please list all campaigns you have worked on, regardless of party affiliation, in either a volunteer or staff member capacity, on either the federal, state, or local level, and briefly describe your work on each.

  • I worked in college on Shirley Chisholm Presidential Campaign
  • I worked Mike Thurmond State House Campaign
  • worked on Gwen O’Looney Mayor’s Campaign
  • I worked on Heidi Davison’s Mayor’s Campaign

Please describe any work you have done in your community, either in Athens-Clarke County or elsewhere, in support of progressive causes.

Education 

I became involved in education issues when my son was having problems in his early years in school.

  • Mirian Wright Edelman Children’s Defense Fund and Center for Children Education
  • other networks helped me maneuver system to advocate and address special education.
  • discipline and school to prison pipeline issues; which led to the organizing of (CQE) Citizens for Quality for Education, which led to a city wide community meeting, with then Superintendent Dr. Purvis and ALL of his leadership team at Thomas Lay Park. The headlines in the Banner Herald read “Black Parents Voice Concern on Retention Rate of Black Students in Educational Forum” 1989.
  • Approximately a year later, I co-chaired of the first community funded summer school program in Clarke County, raising over $50,000 in three months to serve over 300 children identified as at-risk as one solution.
  • Another solution, I served as Clarke County Special Education liaison/advocate-accompanied parents to IEP meetings provided community training’s to through PEP (Parents Educating Parents) and community groups. 1990’s.
  • Clarke Clark Mentor

 

Voter Registration

  • I was the NAACP National Voter Fund Coordinator for Middle Georgia 2000. I also worked with local NAACP, A Phillip Randolph Institute and other groups on voter registration.
  • Issue Campaign late 1990’s -2000’s
    I worked with Thomas Olgesby and other committee leaders on the Edward Wright Festival for several years, after he was shot and killed by police and suffering from a mental breakdown.
  • Ex-Felon Voting Rights Director for Georgia Rural Urban Summit and and Democracy South I coordinated on a state and regional levels.
  • Election Reform -Demos I coordinated on a national and state level.
  • Member of statewide Hunger and Homeless Coalition-I worked on a state level
  • Hate Crime legislation, predatory lending, and welfare reform I worked on a state level and local level.
  • US Action-Affordable Prescription Drug Coverage for Seniors, Campaign Finance Reform, Universal Health Care I worked on a federal, state and local level.
  • Georgia Rural Urban Summit lobbyist on progressive issues at the State Capitol
  • Most of this work was done through the Georgia Rural Urban Summit partnerships and collaborations with other progressive groups.


Georgia Clients Council 2002 -Present

  • As statewide director/community organizer, I present and coordinate advocacy training and legal referrals, civic engagement opportunities, identify resources and creating networks to help low income Georgians to advocate themselves. Currently organizing residents in Bethel Midtown Village in Athens, through the Bethel Stakeholders, reorganizing the Boggs Rural Life Center in Keysville Georgia to help maintain their 1250 acres of land, provide sustainable programming. Providing food stamp advocacy for the elderly and the disabled.


Clarke County Board of Education 2002

  • Served as chair of policy committee and finance and property member. Introduced the idea of creating a governmental committee; that is now working with our state elected delegates on education issues. We were the second BOE, that did a resolution opposing Amendment One (School Takeover which was defeated) , We are only one of two BOE (that I am aware of) that met with our delegation with community members, GAE and sent a letter to the education committee on austerity cuts and QBE which has never been fully funded. But at the end of this, 2018 legislative session the governor fully funded K-12. Th.(While I am taking credit, for the governor’s decision, knowing we took a proactive measure, feels good when you know you are on the right side of history.
  • As a board member, I was part of the initial recommendation to write a Safe School Resolution on behalf of our immigrant families and I serve on the Safe School ad hoc committee-to explore what more can we do.
  • I served as the Georgia School Board Association Delegate and Governance Committee member for 2017.
  • I represent the school board on the West Board Feasibility Committee.

Please list organizations and/or causes you have been involved with in any kind of substantial way.

  • I was a co founded the Athens Community Agenda which is still active
  • I am an active member of the Economic Justice Coalition.
  • I co chair the Bethel Stakeholders
  • I serve on the Clarke County School District ad hoc committee for Safe Schools for our immigrant families
  • I chair Boggs Rural Life Center Board in Keysville through the Georgia Clients Council.

If elected, what will be your policy priorities? Please describe 3 – 5 priorities.

  • Storm water has been an ongoing concern in District 9. Residents in North Ave. support clean and unpolluted water ways. But we would like to look into how states or cities policies are handling the cost of federal storm water regulations, such as Philadelphia. Some cities are looking into environmental bonds as the funding source. If there are no other options, I would have a district meeting for all concern citizens.
  • I want to organize District 9 residents to be educated, engaged and empowered in the discussion and decisions effecting North Athens. Residents expressed concern about recreational facilities, broadband, pave streets and lighten and repair the bridge on North.Walking pathways for the immigrant children in Pinewood to JJ Harris on the These were good projects for TSPLOST and SPLOST but many residents were not part of the discussion for recommendations or for 20-Year Comprehensive Plan. Citizens must be empowered in these policies and decisions. Some esidents in Pulaski are are concerned about rising taxes. Residents have expressed concern about the increase of traffic on 129 with the new development.

  • Housing, Development Community Revitalization and Historic Preservation without Gentrification. I support tax abatement not only for seniors, but for families with least than $50,000. I support property tax abatement to encourage investment and renovation for homeowners to expansion, restore and improve owner-occupied residences. I support inclusionary zoning. There are approximately 300 municipalities with form of inclusionary zoning ordinance approved. There should be housing incentives for potential teachers or current teachers that teach in Clarke County to strenghten our community-maybe creating some type of neighborhood schools. We should require every developer to put into a special neighborhood development fund to help existing homeowners to maintain and up keep their homes, as new housing and development come into neighbors. We need policies and partnership for housing managing companies and developers that receive HUD dollars or tax credits to invest back into their property by providing services and programs for low income residents also to invest in safe, decent, housing even for the poor.
    Ten housing policies were recommended several years ago, I could not find where any actions were taken. Local government should create a Workforce Housing Advisory Council, which was also recommended, to follow up with some action or implementation without gentrification.

  • I support decriminalization of marijuana, but I also want to work with the law enforcement and the court system on mental illness as it relates to criminal justice reform. We need to look at how other states and cities that are addressing, bail equity, record expungement, restorative justice practices etc. to keep people out of jail in jobs. We need a workforce ready to work attract good paying jobs, but people can’t even apply in some cases, because of a blemished record or the end up in jail for a minor offense. I want the local goverment to invest in Second Change Programs and not use tax dollars on surveys. Most cities get a percentage of Drug and Treatment Education (DATE) funds from drug and alcohol fines. I could not any information on DATE for Clarke County-but this worth investigating.

  • I want to revisit the ACC Minority Business Enterprise Pogram policy, which was dismantled in 2012 which may have resulted in less than 1% minority business on the census data for Athens Clarke County. Lastly, I support cooperatives, small business and entrepreneurship as one solution for our disenfranchised and displaced population and those seniors returning to the world work because, people are living longer. We need a policy for the Department of Economic Development and the Department of Human Community Development work together on these workforce development alternatives.

Does your campaign have a platform? If so, please include a link here. ovita4district9.com will provide detail platform

Do you support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour? Yes

Do you support making it easier for workers to organize and join unions? Yes

Will you support policies aimed at increasing the stock of affordable housing in in-town neighborhoods and making home-ownership more possible for ACC’s low-income residents? Yes

Would you support initiatives to help keep longtime Athens residents in their homes — people who are in danger of being pushed out of their neighborhoods by gentrification and rising taxes? Yes

Do you support equal pay for equal work for women? Yes

Should marijuana should be removed from the list of “Schedule 1” federal controlled substances? Yes

Should local law enforcement agencies be required to assist federal immigration law enforcement agencies with deportations? No

Should military-style weapons be accessible to civilians? No

Do you support repealing the Campus Carry law? Yes

Do you support incentivizing investments in clean energy and ending tax breaks and other perks for fossil fuel companies? Yes

Do you support increasing protections for wetlands buffers to help keep our waterways uncontaminated Yes

Do you support comprehensive non-discrimination legislation in ACC? Yes

Should it be illegal for public businesses and institutions to discriminate against LBGTQ people? Yes

Do you support the expansion of Medicaid in Georgia? Yes

Do you support the goal of Universal healthcare – healthcare as a fundamental human right for every American? Yes

Should all state education funds should be directed to public schools? Yes

What are your thoughts about how to secure safe schools for all students?

I think all students and parents not just feel safe, but be safe. I think the culture of a school depends largely from the superintendent to principal and trickles teachers, and non teaching staff. I think SRO could present a positive imagine, not a threaten imagine. There should be such a family relationship, that when a student is exhibiting unusual behavior someone will not only notice but say something to someone they trust and then do something. I think teachers, bus drivers, custodial workers should better supported for what they do for safe schools.I don’t teachers carrying guns will make a school safe. It is about relationship.

Do you support the current Teacher Retirement System of Georgia? Yes

Should legislation requiring electoral districts be drawn by an independent, nonpartisan redistricting commission? Yes

Do you support restoring the full protections of the Voters Rights Act? Yes