Devon Spiva

Athens-Clarke County Commission candidate Devon Spiva poses for a portrait on July 19, 2019, in Athens, Georgia. (photo/Ryan Cameron

A University of Georgia undergraduate student recently began running for the District 10 seat of the Athens-Clarke County Commission.

Devon Spiva, 20, is a rising third-year political science major. He will turn 21 in January, just old enough to meet the minimum age requirement to be elected to the commission. The election will take place in May 2020.

Spiva acknowledged that some voters may focus on his youth, but said he would bring new energy to the body so that the county’s policies can “look forward.” Spiva plans on taking the spring 2020 semester off to focus on campaigning

“I do understand the argument of ‘You’re too young, wait your turn,’ I just think there are certain issues that can’t wait,” Spiva said.

A native of Savannah, Spiva worked on other campaigns, such as that of Richie Knight, an Athens businessman who ran for mayor last year.

He also volunteered for Houston Gaines, the Republican state House representative for District 117. Spiva worked on Gaines’ unsuccessful first bid, in the 2017 special election that saw the district flip blue. Gaines flipped it back and defeated former Rep. Deborah Gonzalez last November.

Spiva has held various roles for the UGA College Republicans. More recently, he’s been serving on the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement’s Committee on Youth Empowerment and Justice, “working to end the school to prison pipeline,” he said.

The seat is currently held by Mike Hamby, who has held office for more than a decade, having been inaugurated in January 2009. Hamby confirmed that he will be seeking another term.

“A fourth term shouldn’t go unchallenged,” Spiva said of Hamby.

Spiva said his campaign is centered around poverty, emphasizing three ways to address it: changing zoning laws to provide more affordable housing, bringing more jobs to Athens and ending the school to prison pipeline.

Hamby along with District 9 Commissioner Ovita Thornton, recently passed a $4 million “prosperity package” containing several anti-poverty measures. Spiva called the package a “proactive step” but said “there wasn’t a lot of answers on how to continue it.” The package is funded with leftover money from the Fiscal Year 2020 budget.

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