MyKeisha Ross fights to be Athens mayor after fighting her way out of homelessness

Mykeisha Ross smiles for a picture with her fellow candidates and organizers after the Historic Athens Candidate Forum. Ross said she wants to preserve historic sights and recycle them into something new to be used for economic benefit such as becoming affordable housing.

Mykeisha Ross enters her art-covered home off Huntington Road with her 14-year-old son fresh from wisdom teeth surgery. She sits on the couch covered in scattered papers as her 10-year-old daughter runs to see their dog give birth to six new puppies. 

It’s been a long day, but this isn’t even close to being her hardest day. Her partner left about four years ago, and all she said she had left was a TV and a futon. 

“I’ve been at rock bottom,” Ross said. “Hitting rock bottom, you have to climb back up. You have to get knocked down 9 times and you got to stand up that tenth time.”

Mykeish Ross who is the community outreach for the district attorney’s office and was a former neighborhood prosperity leader for the Clevaland zones has decided to run for mayor in the upcoming election on May 24. Ross began to learn her rights and educate others after she was incarcerated by her mother for coming out as part of the LGBTQ+ community. She says her experiences have influenced her to run to promote upward mobility and unity for all parts of Athens-Clarke County. 

Ross sat unwavering in a crowd of people at the candidate forum hosted at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church on Monday. She said she usually didn’t get along with “church folks” by whom she was now surrounded. 

“I’m a queer woman,” Ross said. “My main goal here is to answer the questions honestly and let them know who I am and who I’m not afraid to be.” 

Her mother had been in a car accident earlier that morning, but Ross still had a job to do. She said she still had to keep her steady confidence even around the church preacher that had supported her mother during Ross’s incarceration. 

Ross experienced homelessness and abuse from many relationships in her time growing up in Athens-Clarke County. Instead of letting that drag her deeper into poverty, she turned her experiences into a book about breaking multi-generational curses and wants to run for mayor to reach even more people.  

In 2022, unsheltered homelessness in Athens has been reported at the highest it has been since 2017. Ross was able to escape this homelessness by never giving up.

“You start shifting that mindset to ‘I know I can, I will, I must,” Ross said. “I take that risk because, of course, I’m the black sheep of the family but I’ve been doing that my whole life. I’ve been advocating for people my whole life.” 

Ross first started helping her community through a clothes closet in her own home which soon grew into a distribution center for clothes and other necessities. 

“That closet has saved thousands of lives,” said Ross. 

She decided to start her own non-profit organization Youth is Life, which provides resources for children and adults. She pays for everything out of pocket despite being a single mother with two children. 

Ross asked her longtime friend Brittni Chantell to be Vice President of the non-profit and she has supported Ross in her endeavors ever since. 

“When she believes in something, she asserts herself in it with every being that she has,” Chantell said. “She’s not going to back down from that and she’s going to say what she believes and thinks no matter how it makes you look or seem.” 

Ross says she believes she would make the best mayor because of her experience, not her experience in politics, but her experience growing up in Athens. She said all the things that she is fighting for, she has gone through and she will use that experience to influence her time as mayor. 

“I’ve been at rock bottom, but rock bottom taught me how to climb up, so now, I’m not afraid of heights anymore,” Ross said.