Smith: Council needs to ‘evaluate the concept of gentrification’
By Greg Oliver
CLEMSON — Alesia Smith said she feels Clemson City Council needs to do a better job of listening to all residents, including those traditionally underrepresented by the city.
That is one of the primary reasons why she is running for one of the three seats up for grabs on council in November.
Smith said the decision by many longtime residents to relocate because it is too expensive to live in the community, along with development of off-campus housing, are the two major issues facing Clemson.
“Our top priority should always be about the betterment of our entire community,” Smith said. “We need to evaluate the concept of gentrification and develop strategies that will provide opportunities to invest in our established neighborhoods without displacing our lifelong residents and keep our families in Clemson. Our permanent residents are our constituents, and their needs are just as important, if not more, as the need for student housing.”
Originally from Chicago, Smith moved to Clemson 22 years ago to serve as Clemson University’s director for student judicial services and currently serves as the school’s executive director of equity compliance/Title IX coordinator. Smith also serves as head girls’ basketball coach at R.C. Edwards Middle School in Central.
“When I decided to accept a position at Clemson University 22 years ago, I had no idea this would be one of the best decisions for our family,” Smith said. “The city of Clemson had the feel of a loving and inclusive community. My vision for Clemson is to enhance and sustain that small town, family-oriented environment and inclusive environment by investing in our established communities, developing community-based programs geared toward our youth and sponsoring more family-oriented events.”
As a candidate for city council, Smith said the governing body “needs to do a better job of listening and taking seriously members of our underrepresented population who are in jeopardy of losing their property.”
“We have a responsibility to provide various ways for our residents to be involved, from beginning to end, in the future development of Clemson to protect their interests,” she said. “City council also needs to conduct an environmental assessment to determine why our families are moving out of Clemson.”
Smith said while there is traffic congestion downtown, plans to reduce parking “will not necessarily decrease the number of cars.”
“Although the university is in walking distance, the essentials that students need or desire are not convenient — such as grocery stores, shopping centers, restaurants, the airport and hospitals,” Smith said. “Our public transportation provides limited access to these entities. We do not have an urban city public transportation system that provides the necessary access, which will mean students will ensure they can access these services by bringing their cars.”
First and foremost, Smith said she wants to work to “empower our voices and reclaim our community.”
“I will work tirelessly to protect our residents from losing their property in the name of growth and development,” she said. “Important issues like affordable housing, safety, infrastructure, economic stability, family-oriented and recreational activities are critical to providing a community that we can all be very proud to call home. If elected, I will focus on these areas and always put our people and community first.”
Smith and her husband, Bryant, have four adult children — Aramus, Sherece, Darien and Latrice.