Name: Tommy Valentine

Email Address:

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.

Yes. I joined ACCDC in Fall of 2016 and was elected Director of Communications. During my term, I quadrupled our Facebook following, introduced the committee to Slack, helped recruit three other members for the executive committee, launched our Twitter and Instagram channels, drafted the first pass at our new organizational structure, proposed our change from CCDC to ACCDC developed our R.I.S.E. initiative, helped Denise and the rest of the committee to promote and organize some of the largest meetings in our committees history. During this time, I recruited two local elected officials to become ACCDC members, Commissioner Kelly Girtz and School Board Member Ovita Thornton. In response to our growing recognition in the state, we were invited to present at Netroots Nation, the largest progressive conference in the United States. I resigned the post in Fall of 2017 to pursue my campaign as a progressive Democrat for County Commissioner, although I still am a member of the ACCDC, where I contribute as a Classic City Democrat.

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.

  • 2008: Barack Obama (Democratic Primary, then General): Volunteer. Worked to register area voters and connect campaign to downtown Athens music scene. Was recognized for my work with a trip to see Obama speak in Powder Springs, Georgia

  • 2008: Bobby Saxon (D, GA-10 Congress): Campaign manager. Formed a 21 county grassroots campaign, recruited and led 70+ volunteers. Earned 40% of the vote, higher than Obama’s % in the same district that year and to date the highest percentage earned by a D in GA-10 since the 1990’s.

  • 2010: Gwen O’Looney (Non-Partisan, ACC Mayor) Designed logo, met for strategy sessions, volunteered

  • 2014: Herb Gilmore (Non-Partisan, District 3 ACC Commissioner): Campaign advisor. Worked to develop a campaign strategy, locate and train staff. VoteBuilder identified Herb as a Democrat, as did Herb himself. Campaign message revolved around community progressive issues, used union based printing, spoke to Democratic issues.

  • 2014: Sharyn Dickerson (Non-Partisan, District 1 ACC Commissioner): Campaign advisor. Worked to develop a campaign strategy, locate and train staff. VoteBuilder identified Sharyn as a Democrat, as did Sharyn herself. Campaign message revolved around environmental issues and recycling, we used union based printing, and Sharyn spoke to Democratic issues and transparency. NOTE: Since 2014, Sharyn’s votes and commentary have demonstrated that she is not a progressive Democrat (or Democrat at all) and I do not consider myself in line with her political thinking.

  • 2016: Bernie Sanders (Democratic Presidential Primary): Volunteered regularly in the Bernie Sanders headquarters. Recruited other volunteers to attend, helped organize group of supporters to donate to Bernie and attend campaign events.

  • 2016: Hillary Clinton (General Election): Worked out of the ACCDC (then CCDC) headquarters, making phonecalls, recruiting volunteers, and helping with tasks as needed.

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

  • 2000: As Cedar Shoals class president, organized a “You Are Not A Statistic” initiative to promote community involvement, reject the “look to your left, look to your right” administrative view on graduation rates. Spoke publicly about poverty, privilege, and community.

  • 2001-2007: Worked as a concert promoter and community organizer to integrate the downtown music scene, which initially prohibited hip-hop concerts and artists.

  • 2007: Co-organized “The Battle Against Poverty” concert for Athens poverty awareness at UGA’s Legion Field

  • 2008: Formed the Athens Voters Coalition, a group that worked to register voters in under-served areas, such as Nellie B and J&J Flea Market

  • 2008 – Present: Community work has focused on political causes

  • 2016: Worked as an independent community organizer, alongside local progressive groups such as A4E and AADM, to fight for local anti-discrimination protections and a civil rights committee. Organized a large demonstration on the night of the vote, also prepared and published an editorial in favor of the civil rights committee for the Athens-Banner Herald

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

  • Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts of America Troop 2 (Athens, Georgia)
    -> I teach Citizenship Merit Badges annually at the Athens-held Northeast Georgia Boy Scout Advancarama

  • Dreaded Mindz Hip-Hop Collective (2001 to present)
  • Classic City Hip-Hop (2004 to present)

  • Current Memberships:

    • Classic City Democrats, Athens-Clarke County Democratic Committee
    • Member, Georgia Sierra Club
    • Member, NAACP Local 5180
    • Member, Cedar Shoals Local School Governance Team

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

The five pillars of our platform are interconnected, woven around the urgent need to work vigorously as a community to conquer poverty. Doing that will take opening up educational opportunities & access to transportation for all — including those searching for jobs — employing working people at a living wage, supporting our police with additional training and removing barriers to success for non-violent marijuana offenders by deprioritizing arrests for possession.

These pillars include an anti-poverty program (including increased funding and status for Housing and Community Development), criminal justice reform (including marijuana decriminalization and the assurance of non-discriminatory enforcement), transportation (including municipal investments in pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, plus fare free transit), economic justice (including access to affordable housing, a civil rights committee that protects individuals of all ages, races, genders, racial or ethic backgrounds, LGBTQIA identities and orientations, and immigration statuses, plus a $15hr or higher living wage), and education (access to quality, affordable childcare, job skills training, scholarship investments for local leisure services, and municipal investments in lifelong learning,).

Does your campaign have a platform? If so, please include a link here.

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?

As the husband of a Clarke County School teacher, I am extremely passionate about protecting our local staff and students. We can ensure safe schools – and a safer country – by passing and enforcing common-sense gun reform, limiting access to assault weapons, semi-automatic weapons, and large magazines. We should close the gun show loophole and create a society where purchasing a gun is similar to preparing to drive: possible for all, but dependent on testing, licensing, and regulation. Regarding local schools, we can also ensure that adequate resources are provided so that local schools can maintain a secure and safe campus through proper infrastructure. Clarke County Schools currently lacks a Police Chief, a vacancy that prevents our local schools from being adequately staffed and protected. Also, to have truly “safe schools for all” we have to take a look at the kind of disproportionate minority contact that many of the students in our system face when interacting with administration, law enforcement, and disciplinary staff. Furthermore, to ensure schools are safe for our immigrant students, we should ensure that local law enforcement, including the sheriff, are not endangering families through voluntary partnerships with ICE. Finally, we should be doing more to ensure local schools are safe for LGBTQIA students, including assigning a school-to-police liaison that ensures local LGBTQIA students are experiencing a safe and affirming environment.

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