District 10 Super-Commissioner (minus the cape and tights) Elton Dodson has finally decided to tackle a local issue worth paying some attention to - poverty.
The ABH gives Dodson some nice press on the issue here.
Even though he was only elected to office in 2004, Elton Dodson has become something of an enfant terrible on the normally staid ACC Commission. Up until now, he's probably been most associated with his extremely outspoken support of the 24-hour smoking ban in Athens, a ban which, we note only in passing, is far more draconian than the statewide ban.
Now however, Dodson may be growing up and focusing his considerable (not to mention loquacious) passion on an issue that, if you'll pardon our anti-smoking-ban rhetoric, really does matter.
Even during his campaign, Dodson did little more than pay lip service to important yet seldom-discussed issues like poverty, affordable housing, equal economic opportunity, etc. We can't fault him for it; it's pretty standard behavior for most candidates. Indeed, many candidates serve successful careers as elected officials without ever doing more than making a few concerned grunts about poverty.
Maybe that's why we're slightly puzzled by Dodson's sudden emergence as champion for the working poor of ACC. Pardon us for being cynical, but it's not an issue he had to take on. We wonder what made him decide to grow a backbone now, and on this issue. It could be politics. It's no secret that Dodson doesn't plan on being the Commissioner from District 10 forever. Being outspoken on this issue now could serve him well if he decides to run for mayor or for a job at the Gold Dome. For now, we'll embrace our natural idealism, and assume he has only the best motives in mind though.
But, be careful, Commissioner. If you take on poverty, then you're naturally going to be forced into dealing with affordable housing and economic opportunity. That's not a problem, but if you start wading into these issues, sooner or later, you will come face-to-face with the elephant in the room, as far as Athens politics go.
Athens is a progressive town, but the specter of race hangs heavy over our fair city. It all but jumps off the page when one looks at the numbers. It isn't a secret that most of the poor people in our city are minorities.
But for all of its commitment, both real and pretentious, to progressive politics, Athens doesn't like to talk about race. We hope Elton Dodson is ready to talk frankly about it, but more than that, we hope the community and it's elected officials are ready to listen, because, from everything we know about Elton Dodson, he isn't likely to be silenced anytime soon.
A related post.