Key Vote Analysis
The questionnaire was mailed to both candidates for the District 46
State Senate seat.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this section are not those
of Athens Grow Green Coalition, Inc., but are those of the candidate to
whom they are attributed.
According to a study recently released by the Athens-Clarke County Department
of Housing & Economic Development, affordable housing for very low
income residents continues to be a challenge in Athens. What can be done
at the state level to help? What have you done, and what will you do,
to improve access to decent, stable affordable housing for those of low
and very low income?
Assuring access to affordable housing will take more than simply
building more low-cost (but good quality) housing, although that
is certainly part of the equation. Keeping people in the homes they
already have, providing resources that help the working poor hold
onto their jobs, and raising the wages they receive are important
too. In my first term as your State Senator, we have made progress,
but there is still a lot to be done. I supported Ballot Question
2, a proposed amendment to our State Constitution that would allow
for a special tax status for affordable housing; this will help
keep construction and operating costs, as well as rents, down. Keeping
people in their homes is more humane and less costly than trying
to help them after they've been made homeless. To that end, I sponsored
the nation's toughest predatory lending bill, which went into effect
this month, to stop people, especially the elderly who are most
often the victims of this crime, from being bilked out of their
homes. I also sponsored legislation that would have ensured that
mobile home park tenants had the right to make a matching offer
if the park was to be sold. For many Georgians, manufactured housing
is the only affordable option. The bill was defeated by lobbying
led by the building and apartment management industry, but I will
introduce it again. Finally, we can seek federal funds available
to cities like Athens that our local government has so far not attempted
I strongly believe that Seniors on limited incomes and other poor
citizens in northeast Georgia should not be forced out of their
homes to make way for new developments. The leadership that I offer
starts with my expertise in the development field and my proven
ability to motivate all the different interest groups to work together.
With this background, I believe I can help northeast Georgia provide
better affordable housing options for the poor and senior citizens
with an effective, realistic plan.
I propose the creation of a state and local Affordable Housing
Initiative. The state should establish guidelines for affordable
housing projects and as a financial incentive provide tax credits
to developers who build them. The state should also provide direct
assistance in the form of grants to counties to help offset the
expense of providing infrastructure such as roads, sewer and water
to affordable housing projects. The state can also provide assistance
to counties to offset the expenses associated with the development
of a website listing affordable housing options and encourage counties
to adopt an Affordable Housing Zoning classification which includes
special exemptions from bureaucratic paperwork and special property
Whatever solution we find, it must be realistic. I hope to put
my professional expertise to work to find workable, realistic, and
most importantly, effective solutions to this growing problem.
What can be done at the state level to ensure that our water is clean
and plentiful? What have you done, and what will you do to improve water
quality? What have you done and what will you do to ensure that we have
enough water, both for our use and to maintain a healthy aquatic habitat
in our rivers and streams?
I am pushing regional solutions which include multi-county facilities
which better conserve water and offer significantly better technologies
for controlling pollution. I am working on a legislative package
to devise cost-effective means of dealing with drinking water and
wastewater needs through legislation and regulatory mechanisms.
I have worked on water policy issues for more than a decade and
authored one of Georgia's key water policy laws, the inter-basin
transfer law, before I was elected. As a public interest lawyer,
I successfully prosecuted many cases against Clean Water Act violators.
Prior to my election, I testified on water issues before the Georgia
House and Senate and before the US House of Representatives. Since
my election I have played a key role in the establishment of the
North Georgia Metropolitan Water Authority and the Water Policy
Study Committee which is charting the water future for the rest
The biggest source of water pollution in GA is erosion and sedimentation
caused by development. To combat this, we can tie Georgia Environmental
Facilities Authority funds, which go to local governments for infrastructure,
to their success in improving control of erosion and sedimentation.
Communities implementing wider riparian buffers, or which can show
enforcement of erosion and sedimentation regulations, would be given
priority for GEFA funds.
Next session, the General Assembly is likely to vote to increase
the minimum riparian buffer. I will fight for this, as well as to
ensure that priority is given to considering all important uses
of water, including drinking water, agriculture, and support of
aquatic system integrity.
Again, I refer to my professional background in the development
industry and my service as a Member of the Steering Committee for
the Comprehensive Land Use Plan for Athens-Clarke County, the Transition
Advisory Committee, and the Waste Water Advisory Committee.
Athens-Clarke County inspectors will confirm that I have always
gone above and beyond what is required by law to build clean developments
and protect our environment and water resources.
I understand the need for strong regulations to protect our water
resources. As President of the Homebuilders Association, I advocated
doubling the state required protective buffers around our water
sources. If elected, I will push to increase the state's minimum
required buffer to help protect streams and rivers across the state.
I made a pledge to the voters of the district to protect our water
resources, implement responsible water conservation measures, and
that I will fight any attempt my Atlanta or anyone else to take
away our water resources, especially the Bear Creek Reservoir, which
was paid for by the citizens of Clarke, Oconee, Barrow and Jackson
I strongly support the development and quick execution of a comprehensive
water management plan that includes strict protective measures and
the development of new resources to provide the water we need in
During my public service, I have worked hard to develop a reputation
with county officials, the development community, neighborhood groups,
and the environmental community as a consensus builder and thoughtful
leader. If elected, I will put every effort into delivering what
I have promised here.
Growth and development
Athens has been nationally recognized as one of the fastest sprawling
areas in the U.S. What can be done at the state level to curb sprawl?
What have you done and what will you do to help prevent sprawl and its
Why don't we like sprawl? First, the cost - for infrastructure,
police and fire protection, roads. It's bad for the economy. It
costs more to build subdivisions the way we have. And second, the
environmental impacts - on air and water quality, and loss of open
space. Part of the picture in slowing sprawl is the Greenspace program;
our transportation policy, and regulatory and incentive programs.
I supported the Community Greenspace initiative, which is a great
start. I made sure that the TDR enabling legislation was amended
to make it easier for ACC to implement this market-driven land preservation
tool. There are other innovative solutions. DCA has funds available
for local governments for infrastructure improvements; we can make
sure that communities that implement "smart growth" policies
- like protecting greenspace, encouraging infill and mixed-use development
- are given higher priority for receiving these funds. We will need
to regulate the use of septic tanks. It is now customary for subdivisions
to use septic systems for wastewater and wells for drinking water.
But there are no safeguards in place to ensure that septic systems
are maintained, so they fail, and when that happens our drinking
water sources become polluted. This is an example of better environmental
control and enforcement that are needed, for public health reasons,
that will slow down sprawl. We need to continue to find innovative
programs that allow local governments to coordinate federal and
state dollars that are available for "smart growth" initiatives.
I believe the key to smart growth is effective planning.
As a builder and through my experience on local government committees
such as the Athens-Clarke County Comprehensive Land Use Study Committee,
I understand the need to manage growth responsibly and the difficulties
many communities face in trying to do so.
Georgia needs bold leadership on a state level to help guide and
manage our growth. One relatively simple step to help manage growth
would be for the state to require counties to coordinate their Comprehensive
Land Use Plans with adjacent counties.
I will work with the Department of Transportation to increase local
road funding to help reduce traffic and increase funding for effective
and common sense transportation alternatives such a rail service
and express bus service. We can reduce traffic and have cleaner
air with the right mix of transportation options.
Air quality, water quality, and public health are all negatively impacted
by our excessive dependence on the automobile for transportation. What
kinds of alternatives to automobile transportation do you support? What
have you done and will you do to help us to expand our transportation
choices here in Athens?
We need to have a vision of transportation for the future which
takes into account more than just road-building; and we need to
start now to create the infrastructure for the future. We took the
first step toward creating that infrastructure by passing GARVEE
bonding, which allows the state to borrow money at historically
low rates based on the federal transportation funds we expect to
receive in the future. This will allow us to build transportation
systems that look to the future, that will move people efficiently
and effectively, with more choices than just automobiles; this must
include commuter rail. By investing in infrastructure that will
allow people to travel by more efficient, less polluting means than
the automobile, we'll save money in other areas, and we'll give
our area relief from air pollution. This is especially true for
Athens, with the growing congestion on 316.
In order to make commuter rail viable, ticket prices would need
to be affordable. We should not expect rail tickets to completely
cover the costs of running the line. We subsidize roads astronomically;
road users don't pay anywhere near the true cost of building and
maintaining our roads. So why impose that kind of cost analysis
on rail or other alternative transportation?
But providing commuter rail is only part of the picture. We have
to be prepared to receive rail. The local transportation system
has to be ready to move the rail commuters - many of whom will likely
be UGA students - efficiently and effectively. If we have a well-functioning
transportation system here, and in Atlanta, commuter rail will become
In brief, I refer to my previous answer. I will work with the Department
of Transportation to increase local road funding to help reduce
traffic and increase funding for effective and common sense transportation
alternatives such a rail service and express bus service. We can
reduce traffic and have cleaner air with the right mix of transportation
options. New bike lanes and other transportation options have been
a step in the right direction here in our community. I believe the
answer is in balance, not in exclusive approaches.