Clarkston mayor seeks four more years

Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry announced his intent to rerun for mayor in late June. In November, he will face former council member Beverly Burks. Photo by R. Scott Belzer

When Mayor Ted Terry first ran for public office in 2013, he had one goal for the city of Clarkston: to put it on the map.

“The role of every mayor is to represent the city to the outside world,” Terry said. “You’re an outward facing leader. Every mayor wants to say the name of their city and have people say, ‘Oh, I’ve heard of that.’ Not, ‘What is that? Where is that?’ That’s a major accomplishment of mine.”

Terry, who, along with city council members, has appeared on local, statewide and national news because of Clarkston’s progressive legislation, announced his intent to rerun for mayor in late June.

“Over the last three and a half years, Clarkston has been a model community for welcoming and compassionate action towards refugees and immigrants. We became the first city in Georgia to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour for city employees, make election day a holiday, decriminalize simple marijuana possession and just last month passed the first in the state ‘tiny house’ neighborhood development ordinance—an initiative to provide more affordable housing options in our city,” reads Terry’s announcement. “Over the next 4 years I intend to work on innovative new models around civilian led policing, micro-farming, as well as committing Clarkston to a goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050.”

Terry said he has enjoyed his role in representing the city at the local, national and international level through delegations, service on state and county boards as well as participation in national, mayor-centric committees.

Terry called the experience a “positive start” for Clarkston, which is often referred to as the most diverse square mile in the country.

“When I first ran, the city was known as one that wasn’t welcoming to refugees,” Terry said. “[Former Mayor Emanuel Ransom] was saying bad things about refugees. By reopening our minds and hearts to all people, we have made welcoming refugees a foundational principle. The next step is to implement welcoming and compassionate policies.”

If reelected, Terry said, he would like to address affordable housing in Clarkston, increase public safety and assure the city is getting its fair share of the countywide special local option sales tax (SPLOST).

To address affordbale housing, Terry suggests providing city-based initiatives for home owership and affordable housing.

“Rent is too darn high and 80 percent of the Clarkston community are renters. It’s going up every single year and pricing people out. From the city’s perspective, we have to be active,” Terry said.

For safety, Terry said the city should develop a civilian-led oversight board to develop policies for the Clarkston police to implement. The result, Terry said, will be partnerships with neighborhoods, businesses and other stakeholders.

“We’ve grown the size of the city by annexing the Brockett Road community,” Terry said. “While we’ve added to our police force, we’ve also added more 911 calls. I want to focus on a way for residents and the community to be more involved in enforcing public safety. This is true community policing. We need to do a better job in making Clarkston one of the safest cities in America.”

For SPLOST-based projects, Terry wants Clarkston to make the best use of its funds.

“The infrastructure projects need to create a good entrance for our city, connect all our people to all of the city’s assets, schools and the downtown core,” Terry said. “There’s a lot of ideas on how to spend the money, but we have to make sure we’re using taxpayer money wisely.”

Terry said he has worked in, and volunteered for, political campaigns and elected officials since he was 17 years old. He said he enjoys being able to help people and effect change.

“It’s the greatest job ever,” Terry said. “We get to fix real world problems—some big, some small. Fixing a pothole is something we can do right away. In the long term, we can address policy problems. When people come to you with an issue, you find a solution and empower them. At the end of the day, we get to make the community better.”

Terry’s sole opponent in November will be former councilmember Beverly Burks, who was first elected to city council in 2015.

“I have nothing negative to say about my opponent. I wish she would stay on council because she is a great council member,” Terry said. “We have a lot of common ideas and great things we were able to accomplish together. I’m supportive of her initiative to create more public art in Clarkston. I regret she had to resign, as you can’t do everything in one and a half years and I feel you need a record of success.”

Terry said he looks forward to four more years of service to the people of Clarkston.

“My main mindset is the seat for mayor is not mine—it’s the people’s,” Terry said. “It’s up to the people to decide who can represent them for the next four years. We need to come together as a community. Always serving in communities has prepared me and led to a successful time as mayor. Everything I do, I do for Clarkston. I notice every piece of trash, crack in the sidewalk, pot hole and water leak and I’m always thinking of solutions. It doesn’t matter the size of the issue—the mayor’s job is to solve problems and create a better Clarkston.”

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