Two races are contested in this year’s Athens City Council elections: first ward and at-large. Three people will be selected to fill the at-large position, and there are some strong candidates in those areas.

Based on research and email responses to questions about their plans for Athens, here are the candidates who we feel would best fill those roles. 

First ward

For the first ward council position, we endorse incumbent Kent Butler, D. Butler has served on council nearly 10 years and has presented positive ideas throughout that time.

We appreciate his level of knowledge and his dedication to Athens’ West Side. His focus on issues, including infrastructure, the opioid epidemic and general safety issues, that affect a wide range of people in Athens is important to covering all problems within the city.

Brian Cristi, an independent, is running against Butler. Though Cristi has some different ideas, Butler had more concrete areas of improvement in the first ward, including safety, private business infrastructures and mobility. 

That, partnered with his work as chair of the City Service and Safety Committee, leads us to suggest voting for Butler for re-election. 

At-large

The candidates for the at-large positions have a lot of great ideas that could bring great change to Athens. 

Incumbent Pat McGee, I, has continually advocated for students and has helped bridge the gap that can exist between students and lifelong Athens residents. He pushes for lower rent rates and wants to students to be treated fairly. As a Bobcat and a father of a Bobcat, McGee has the knowledge necessary to continue moving Athens forward. His time as a councilman has been well spent. 

Arian Smedley, D, has been a strong voice in Athens recently and has been involved with some important initiatives, including Integrating Professions for Appalachian Children, a nonprofit charity agency that, among other things, helps figure out how to assess risks in children. The Central Committee of the Democratic Party appointed Smedley, who now works for the Athens County Board of Developmental Disabilities, as an at-large council member, and she has served in the position since this past summer. She has been consistent on council since then, and we hope to see her continue that if elected.

As a current member of the Disabilities Commission, Noah Trembly, who does not have a party listed on the ballot, would offer an additional perspective on how to make Athens more accessible to all if elected to council. Since Trembly moved to Athens in 2007, he has created his own consulting firm and worked with the university for a few years. His push for better sidewalks and housing could go a long way for both students and lifelong residents. 

Though we endorse the three candidates listed above, we feel all five have qualities and ideas that would help move Athens forward. Incumbent Peter Kotses, D, could enact more change by speaking up more frequently, while Sarah Grace, D, is a hard-working businesswoman who has a commitment to the City of Athens. 

Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Post's executive editors: editor-in-chief Elizabeth Backo, managing editor Kaitlin Coward and senior editor Marisa Fernandez. Digital managing editor Hayley Harding was not involved with endorsements because she is involved with The Post’s coverage of elections. Post editorials are independent of the publication's news coverage.

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