Name: Vic Hixon

Office sought: Rome City Commission

Occupation: Businessman

What qualities do you bring to the City Commission? Why are you seeking a seat?

I have been a small business owner in the city of Rome for over 20 years. In that time I have dealt with the planning, zoning, fire, public safety, and licensing commission. I am also a member of the Chamber of Commerce. As a business owner, I have expressed my concerns about over-regulation and barriers that impact small businesses and that prevent growth in our area. For the past 2 years, I have been working inside the Rome City school system and have witnessed firsthand how our families and community have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, lack of affordable housing and the influx of dangerous illegal drugs. The lack of community-sponsored activities has negatively affected our city’s youth for many years. I have consistently been active in my community to make it a better place to live and work. I have served as branch vice president as well as president of the local chapter NAACP, working alongside several diverse groups of people to build a better community. I have hosted several voter registration drives, Christmas toy drives, political forums, town hall meetings, and discussions. I have also spent many hours volunteering with our youth through the Rome Floyd Parks and Recreation Department, YMCA and the Rome Little Theatre. I have partnered with many other civic groups that offer community support, and I have formed relationships with many of our community leaders within our local government to get an understanding of what Rome needs. And that is, all of us working together to solve these big problems.

A 10 p.m. curfew is proposed to address the issue of young people wandering around aimlessly downtown. How would you like to see the problem handled?

I propose that we clearly state the issue and geographic area of the curfew. Previous discussions have included citywide legislation. There may be unintended consequences for such a proposal. Policing is needed, but the ultimate goal is protection for all of the community, including the citizens, youth, and the businesses. We want to make sure that the kids have activities, but we need to make sure they are not being a danger to property or themselves.

The city got $11.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding and not all has been allocated. Where should the one-time boost be directed?

The funds should be directed where they are most needed:

Rental Assistance — for families who have lost jobs and income due to COVID-19 and are facing evictions throughout the city.

Broadband expansion/Addressing the Digital Divide — can provide assistance to households facing negative economic impacts due to Covid-19, including digital literacy training and other programs that promote access to the internet.

Opioid treatment/substance abuse — It is time to turn the page on the drug culture that has been tearing our families and city apart for the last 50 years. We can use parts of these funds to implement drug treatment and awareness programs that promote health and wellness education. There is also a possibility of additional funds through two bills that have passed through the house of representatives (H.R. 654 and H.R. 2379) that are designed to increase resources for expenses pertaining to drug treatment facilities.

Youth job training — provide training and activities for our youth that will teach and encourage them to become productive citizens.

In terms of annual general fund budgeting, what are your spending priorities?

I think that in the past many years much of the city budget has been directed to projects that have not benefited the citizens of Rome. I believe that we can have a balanced approach, investing in our own citizens through community revitalization, while also building infrastructure to attract tourism dollars. I am also very concerned about public safety, and I want to ensure that our first responders are fully equipped with everything that they need to be safe and keep the community safe.

Is there a special project or vision for the city you want to promote on the Commission over the next four years?

I would like to see our community foster economic resilience. The ability to prevent, withstand, and quickly recover from major disruptions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, to its economic base. Over the past year, millions of Americans relied on the internet to participate in remote school, healthcare, and work. I would like to see a project that directly trains and connects residents (individuals and households) with high paying digital careers, telehealth training, and employment opportunities. All training and programs are focused on providing digital and/or entrepreneurial skills to build careers, businesses, or both — with a direct connection of increased opportunity for our citizens.

This also gives the possibilities of reducing crime while providing assistance and resources to at risk households in the areas of K-12 education, homework, remote learning; TeleHealth; jobs — economic development; civic participation; service delivery; connecting the elderly; climate change mitigation/disaster recovery; and safety.

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