Elections Politics

Athens 2017 City Council candidates focus on education, business-friendly policies

Photo compilation by Ellen Bardash
Written by Allie Eldredge

Athens has some new competition for a couple of City Council seats. A majority of the competitors are Democrats, with only one Republican vying for a spot.

Sarah Grace

Photo courtesy of Sarah Grace for Ohio

Grace is one of three candidates running for an at-large seat on the council. She is an OU alumna, local small-business owner and a former candidate for Ohio’s 94th District seat. Her priorities are the community, education and the economy.

A healthy and vital community means a community with great schools, 21st century infrastructure, adequate police and fire protection, good paying jobs and great recreational opportunities,” Grace said.

Arian Smedley

Photo courtesy of Arian Smedley

Smedley, the second Democratic candidate running for an at-large seat, also graduated from Ohio University and is currently the director at Integrating Professionals for Appalachian Children. Formerly, she was the community relations coordinator with Athens County Job and Family Services.

Eric Gunn

Photo courtesy of Eric Gunn

Eric Gunn, co-owner of both The Union and Haffa’s Records, is up against Samuel E. Crowl for the third-ward seat. He started becoming involved with City Council after the fire that affected a few businesses on Union Street in 2014. The more he worked with the Council, the more he realized he wanted to be involved as more than just a meeting attendee.

“City Council needs to have not only some more people who are business owners in town, but also people who are a little more in tune to the uptown area in terms of not only what goes on at night, but also what goes on during the day with delivery drivers and traffic and cabs at night and the issues that are just part of uptown,” Gunn said.

Samuel E. Crowl

Photo courtesy of Samuel Crowl

Samuel E. Crowl is currently the sustainability project coordinator at Ohio University. Before getting a job in the Office of Sustainability in 2014, Crowl taught part-time in the OU history department. Samuel lived in Osaka, Japan, and Washington, D.C. while working for the Institute of International Education. He returned to his hometown of Athens in the late 1990s.

Abe Alassaf

Photo courtesy of Abe Alassaf

The only Republican running, Abe Alassaf, is competing for the second-ward City Council seat. Alassaf will be running against Jeffrey Risner, the Democratic incumbent. Alassaf is an OU alumnus currently working at the Leadership Institute as the regional field coordinator (RFC) for the Midwest region of the United States. Alassaf also works for Green and White Realty and is the vice-chair for the Athens County Republicans.

Alassaf says he wants to make Athens a more business-friendly environment.

“I want to make sure that not only can people enjoy the natural beauty of Athens and all that it has to offer, but also they can stay here and have good job employment because we’re gonna be welcoming to new business and innovation,” Alassaf said. “I think Athens could end up being kind of an “Appalachian Silicon Valley” if the right policies are put in place.”

At the time of this article’s publication, several candidates had not responded to requests for comment.

The City Council primary election takes place on May 2. Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

About the author

Allie Eldredge

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