Jesse Houle announced their campaign for Athens-Clarke County Commission District 6. They will challenge Jerry NeSmith, who currently holds the seat, during the election in June.

Community activist Jesse Houle announced their candidacy to represent District 6 on the Athens-Clarke County Commission in a Feb. 12 press release. Houle’s major platform proposals include making ACC Transit services fare-free, enacting a tenants’ bill of rights and eliminating unpaid inmate labor in Athens.

Houle co-founded the local progressive activist group Athens For Everyone and works at Nuçi’s Space. They will challenge incumbent District 6 Commissioner Jerry NeSmith at the ballot box on May 19.

In a questionnaire response on A4E’s website, Houle said their most important policy priority during their first year would be promoting economic and racial justice, which they called “inextricably interlinked.”

“You can’t have economic justice without centering [an] honest conversation about race, and you can’t have racial justice without taking action on transformative economic policy,” Houle said in the questionnaire.

Houle has worked as a musician, community organizer and assisted progressive candidates running for local and state office, according to the release.

“We are so close to having enough political will in City Hall to make real change in this community,” Houle said in the release. “To do so we need commissioners with a vision for change and courage to take action.”

Houle also serves as the operations manager for Nuçi’s Space, a local non-profit that maintains a health and resource center for musicians to help prevent suicide.

Houle’s campaign will host a kickoff party on March 1, 2-4 p.m., at Akademia Brewing Company.

Clarification: A previous version of this story used incorrect pronouns to refer to Houle, who is non-binary. The story has since been updated to include the pronouns Houle uses.

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