Commissioner Thornton, District 9
2019 – present
Represents North Athens from Newton Bridge Road to Spring Valley Road.
Resources for District 9: During her 2018 campaign, Commissioner Ovita Thornton advocated for resources and infrastructure for her district. For example, she has pushed for a multi-use path from Pinewoods to JJ Harris elementary, streetlights for Freeman Drive, repairing the North Ave bridge and a park on the north side among other priorities. With the exception of the park, funding for these items was included in TSPLOST 2023.
Opposition to Stormwater Fee Increases: Thornton has promoted town hall forums to discuss both the need to manage stormwater and her opinion that the stormwater fee causes hardship for some taxpayers. She opposes stormwater fee increases.
Criminal Justice Reform: Commissioner Thornton has promoted record expungement for minor offenses and bail reform efforts.
Skepticism towards Social Programs: Thornton consistently voices skepticism about government efforts to address poverty and homelessness. She has voted against and tried to delay an eviction prevention program, repeatedly opposed the creation of a plan to reduce homelessness, voiced opposition to food assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic and voted against the creation of a sanctioned homeless encampment. While she sometimes ends up voting yes on these programs anyway, her doubt in the sincerity and effectiveness of government action is very consistent.
The Gerrymandering of Athens: Thornton encouraged the Republican-controlled state legislature to gerrymander Athens’ commission districts in 2022 when she abstained from supporting a Board of Elections-endorsed redistricting map. She was informed several times about the consequences of this decision, including once just before the vote by Manager Blaine Williams. The Republican plan to gerrymander Athens removed three commissioners from office by fiat and put over half of Athens voters in a different district just months before the May 2022 local election. To date, she has not spoken out against the gerrymandering.
The ACC Democratic party censured Thornton over this incident, saying that she has enabled Republicans to undermine democracy locally.
Manipulation of the FY 2024 Budget Vote: On June 6, 2023, Thornton inappropriately abstained on a vote to approve the FY 2024 budget, seemingly with the intent to manipulate the outcome. Weaponizing an abstention in this manner violates best practice for local governments in Georgia according to the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia’s parliamentary procedure manual and is most likely unprecedented in ACC government history.