Carol Myers’ education career was all about helping out students.
Although it wasn’t in her job description as the dean of general education at Athens Technical College, Myers would meet with students on student advising days when other faculty members couldn’t.
“There would be someone who come in at 5:45 p.m., and they just got off their shift at their job,” Myers said. “If there was a problem with financial aid … if something was tricky, instead of saying ‘you need to go down to that building’ … I’d walk them to the door and get them to [the] right person.”
Myers retired from Athens Tech in 2015, where she worked for 30 years as both a teacher and a dean. Now, at 61 years old, Myers said she hopes to bring her hands-on approach to service to the Athens-Clarke County Commission.
After establishing her career, raising her children and making friends in Athens, Myers said her focus as District 8 commissioner would be pushing for “just and equitable” policies to help the Athens community.
“In terms of focusing on ‘just and equitable,’ it's helping give other people in our community the advantages that I surely have had,” Myers said.
While saying she doesn’t have all the answers, Myers has outlined ideas to bring her policies to fruition if elected.
“I think there is racism in Athens. I think there has been racism,” Myers said. “There’s a division between the rich and the poor, those who have better and stable jobs … and people who are living on the edge in hourly jobs in [a] gig economy. But we are all human beings who are experiencing this life each of us is given. Everyone’s value is equal.”
If elected, Myers would support the community police advisory board and lower residents’ utility bills by incorporating renewable energy into the North Athens Development Plan, which includes the renovation of Bethel Midtown Village Apartments.
Myers said she plans to address the school-to-prison pipeline. She supports the county’s pre-arrest diversion program and said she would fight to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Myers said she understands and feels well-equipped to address the problems facing the community, saying her students at Athens Tech faced the same issues.
“A lot of times, it’s real practical things, like transportation,” Myers said. “Like they have someone sick in their family that they have to take care of … like they’re taking care of [children] for their cousin who has to go to work.”
Myers plans to build shaded bus stops with seating throughout the county and offer “as many as possible” fare-free rides on the Athens transit system. Myers also plans to establish a bike share program.
“Athens is auto-centric. Communities and cities that rely on having this large vehicle that costs a lot, that has insurance ... it’s very cost-prohibitive to a lot of people struggling to get by,” Myers said. “Having them be able to use a bus and having a reliable, dependable bus that doesn’t drain their pocketbooks helps those in the community who are struggling because of low wages or unemployment.”
Myers serves as the chairwoman for the Athens in Motion Commission. Myers worked with Tony Eubanks, a candidate for District 3 commissioner in 2018, and others to develop the scope of the county’s bike and pedestrian master plan, which established the AiMC.
Eubanks said they reviewed other cities’ plans to help develop the plan for Athens.
“If she’s on something, a committee, or trying to get her head around an issue, she really works hard to do her homework,” Eubanks said. “If she’s talking about something as if she knows what she is talking about, it’s because she does.”
Myers said she would promote a “thriving” East Side by advocating for reevaluating zoning ordinances to encourage affordable housing and supporting business on that side of town. Myers also advocates for resident input on the location, design and other characteristics of the recently-funded East Side public library.
“People want to live in a community where there’s a store to shop in, that there’s a restaurant to go to, there’s a coffee shop to go to, there’s a place for kids to go after school, [where] there aren’t empty buildings like the Kmart area [on South Barnett Shoals Road],” Myers said.
Over 30 years in Athens
Barbara Barnett said she likes Myers’ support for a library on the East Side. The two have kept in touch since Myers taught Barnett at Athens Tech nearly 30 years ago.
“She didn’t teach really strict. She was really just kind of laid-back. She didn’t just sit at the desk and just direct and instruct. She always got feedback, and she made it very interesting,” Barnett said.
Myers moved to Athens in 1984 after earning her master’s degree in English as a second language instruction from the University of Arizona in 1984. Myers said she taught introductory English courses to English as a second language students at the University of Georgia until 1987.
In 1987, Myers took a teaching job at Athens Tech for a higher salary. Yet she said she felt like she could impact the community more there, too. Myers said she wouldn’t have been exposed to the Athens population as much if she remained at UGA to teach. The ESL students at UGA often come from privileged backgrounds, she said.
“I liked people who were the mission of a two-year college, to give people an opportunity,” Myers said.
She said she doesn’t believe she is a “savior” but rather a person with the skills and experience to help make life better for Athens residents.
“I’m here at this place in my life where I have the time, I have the energy, I have the know-how, I have the experience and I have a platform. I have things I care about. I need to take a chance to put myself out there,” Myers said. “If I don’t win, I'll keep working on these things that I do care about.”