With the 2020 Athens-Clarke County Commission election less than a year away, the first candidate in the race filed preliminary paperwork on Wednesday.
Andrea Farnham, a sex, marriage and family therapist, is the sole proprietor of Just Relationships LLC, a private therapy practice in Athens. She announced her intention to run for the commission in District 8 in a Facebook post.
“The question is why are we so satisfied with the status quo in a town with 30 percent poverty, standing racial wealth inequality, oppressive work conditions, and no sign of anything improving without intentional interventions?” Farnham wrote in the post.
The incumbent commissioner for District 8 is Andy Herod, a professor of geography at the University of Georgia. It’s unclear whether or not Herod, who has served in his position since 2007, will seek reelection. Herod did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.
Farnham said in an interview that poverty reduction was the most important issue to her, and that Herod was “a little too comfortable” with the status quo in Athens.
“I just think that Commissioner Herod has a constricted notion of the possible, and I worry a little bit that in his mind, economic justice in Athens isn’t really possible,” Farnham said. “That we just have to make do with the entrenched poverty.”
Cora Wright, Elections Assistant for the ACC Board of Elections, confirmed that Farnham filed her declaration of intent on June 5. The declaration allows candidates to start fundraising, Wright said. Qualifying will take place March 2 through March 6 of next year, with the election scheduled for May 19, 2020.
ACC commissioners serve 4-year terms, with half of the seats up for election every 2 years. Last May, in addition to the mayoral election, the odd-numbered commission seats — Districts 1,3,5,7, and 9 — were up for election, along with District 2, which was vacated after Harry Sims resigned to run for mayor.
This past election cycle saw a sweep of progressive candidates win office, with every winner having been endorsed by local progressive activist group Athens for Everyone, including Mayor Kelly Girtz.
She’s also been active in local politics — Farnham is quoted in past articles from The Red & Black at public events concerning race relations and criminal justice.
Farnham was a volunteer for the campaign of Richard Winfield, the UGA philosophy professor who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination in Georgia’s 10th congressional district, and said she was influenced by his ideas.
“A lot of my ideas to be honest are Winfield books distilled to regular people … he inspired me a lot,” Farnham said.