Damon Krane, a social media consultant and small business owner, said he will run for mayor in Athens later this year.
Krane is an independent and will be the first person to run against Mayor Steven Patterson. Patterson was elected in 2015 and has served as mayor for one term.
Krane is the owner of Hot Potato Food Truck but has run and managed several other businesses in the past. He is from Washington County, Pennsylvania, and moved to Athens in 1999. He moved out of Athens in 2009.
“There aren’t a lot of decent paying jobs available in Athens and that’s why I had to move away in 2009,” Krane said.
Krane opened his food truck, and it gave him a reason to come back to Athens in 2016. He expressed admiration for the city and said the strong community is unlike anywhere else in the country.
“I really fell in love with Athens,” Krane said. “Knowing your neighbors and knowing who owns the restaurant you eat at just makes it a wonderful place to live.”
Krane said he makes a great candidate due to his experience. He has been an organizer and involved in activism in Athens, including funding for mobile vending. He is the founder of Athens Mobile Vending Association (AMVA), which fights against the issue of the removal of vending locations by city code.
AMVA is also the original reason Krane decided to run for mayor.
“The AMVA has taught me the city can be run a lot better than is it now,” Krane said.
Krane plans to bring his administrative experience to his candidacy as well. He has owned and managed several businesses, managed a nonprofit organization and is the president of the AMVA.
“I also bring to the table experiences that are shared by most people of Athens but are not shared by most office holders in Athens,” Krane said.
Krane said his experience as a rental tenant are just as important as any administrative experience.
“It’s the combination of experiences, concerns and values that make me a better candidate for mayor,” Krane said.
Krane said the largest piece of his campaign is the housing issue.
“The centerpiece of my platform is what I call ‘Operation Slumlord Smackdown,’” Krane said. “It is a five-point plan to change the way that we regulate rental housing in Athens.”
Krane said he felt if he were elected on the basis of his campaign, it would send a strong message to Athens City Council, who would be the ones to approve any housing changes.
“They need to start doing right by renters or be replaced by somebody who will,” Krane said.
As a part of his five-point plan, Krane said he wants to properly staff city code enforcement because it is understaffed. Patterson said there are four code inspectors, two solid waste litter control inspectors and one code enforcement director.
Another part of his plan is to strengthen housing codes by looking to stop landlords from improper long withholding security deposits and enforcing current city code on housing.
He also wants to enable tenants to be properly informed of their landlords by digitizing all records and making them public records on the City of Athens website.
The fourth point is to prevent landlords from putting the costs of noncompliance on tenants by placing rent control, which would cap the amount on rent.
The final part plan was to eliminate the Housing Board of Appeals. Krane said there is no testimony from tenants in discussion of citing landlords.
Patterson agreed that housing is an issue and said he wants to look into ways affordable housing can be encouraged. Another part of his campaign includes city infrastructure and the renovation of water treatment plants.
Patterson said his campaign is to improve the quality of life in Athens.
“Athens is an amazing and special place,” Patterson said. “There’s something about it that made me think I wanted to spend the rest of my life here.”