A DORA (Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area) sticker is attached to a local business in uptown Athens.

A DORA (Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area) sticker is attached to a local business in uptown Athens.

Local legislation

August 23, 2021

What you missed in Athens politics this summer

By Abby Miller | Editor-In-Chief

S tudents may have been away from Athens for the summer, but local politicians and candidates in races took no breaks. Athens City Council passed new ordinances and mandates, and primary elections were won. Here’s some of the biggest happenings in Athens politics you may have missed over the summer:

Multiple mask updates

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, so does the city of Athens’ mask mandate.

Athens City Council unanimously voted May 24 to amend the city’s mask mandate, no longer requiring those who were fully vaccinated to wear a mask. The move was in light of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines from May 13, which stated fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks or physically distance themselves in most settings.

Councilwoman Sarah Grace, D-At Large, said local businesses had the option to keep mandating face coverings even though the city guidelines were changing.

Currently, the mask mandate is back in place for all indoor settings. Council made the change Aug. 16 after the county reached a level of substantial transmission Aug. 9. The CDC recommends areas with substantial rates of transmission have individuals mask in all public indoor settings regardless of vaccination status.

“This is a public health decision. This is not a decision based on anything but trying to keep everyone safe and healthy,” Councilman Sam Crowl, D-3rd Ward, said during the meeting. “Masks will be necessary to keep us healthy and to comply with the guidance of the CDC, so I just wanted to reiterate that this is a public health decision, this is about people’s lives.”

The mandate is in place until Feb. 28, 2022, unless otherwise rescinded by Council.

A City Council primary

Incumbent Chris Fahl was defeated in a democratic primary for City Council’s 4th Ward seat on May 4.

Fahl was elected to Council in 2009, and opponent Alan Swank was her first primary challenger to emerge during that time.

Fahl received 34.75% of the vote and Swank received 65.25%, according to a previous Post report. Voter turnout was only 9.5%.

“Alan did the work that he had to do, which is great, and I'm just going to finish out my term, doing the things that I do for Athens,” Fahl told The Post in May.

Swank often spoke of housing issues and getting out to meet citizens during his campaign. He plans on holding “street hall meetings,” where constituents will have a chance to meet with Swank in a smaller setting to discuss issues.

Swank’s term will begin in Jan. 2022.

The Ohio 15th special primary

After Steve Stivers vacated his seat as the representative for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District on May 16, a special election was held Aug. 3.

Mike Carey was the winner of the Republican primary, and Allison Russo won the Democratic primary.

Russo secured 85.11% of the vote in Athens County, according to a previous Post report. Carey received 38.04% of all votes in Athens County.

Russo released a public statement thanking voters for their support, and Carey similarly posted on Instagram. Carey was supported by former U.S. President Donald Trump and acknowledged his influence in the post.

The general election will be held Nov. 2.

The creation of a summer DORA

City Council established a designated outdoor refreshment area, or DORA, June 21 to allow the carrying of open containers during specific hours this summer.

Athens’ DORA went into effect July 29 and subsequently let citizens carry open alcoholic beverages on most of Court Street, along with parts of Washington Street, State Street and Mill Street, among others. Patrons were able to carry the beverages in disposable cups from local establishments into other locations taking part in the DORA.

The DORA operated Thursdays from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Sundays from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. It ended Aug. 15.

The ordinance was proposed by the Athens Uptown Business Association with the aim of stimulating economic growth while also promoting a social experience. David Cornwell, owner of The North End, Courtside Pizza and The J Bar, said in a previous Post report the DORA had little impact on his businesses. He does, however, look forward to the DORA being active the whole summer in 2022.

AUTHOR: Abby Miller
EDITOR: Emma Skidmore
COPY EDITOR: Anna Garnai
PHOTO: Ryan Grzybowski