I’ve lived in the Poplar Level neighborhood with my partner, Brett, for the past 9 years. As the district’s Metro Council representative, my absolute first priority is to ensure that residents of every neighborhood I represent have transparent, accessible government. I have an ambitious agenda for city government as a whole, but I will not neglect my duty to the people of District 10.
The first priority of my office will be responding to the needs of the residents of District 10. Council members form an important bridge between residents and government. I’ll be your advocate if you’re having issues with Metro government agencies, and help you access city services.
Everyone has a right to know how their tax dollars are spent and the reasoning behind their representative’s votes. As your Council representative, I’ll be open and transparent in my decision making, and make sure I’m communicating my reasoning with my constituents. Even when we disagree, I’ll hear you out and make sure you know why I’m taking the position I am.
Public trash cans
Trash cans are important to keep the streets and sidewalks free from trash. Major streets with lots of pedestrians and joggers need cans regularly spaced to minimize litter. Adding public trash cans to Eastern Parkway is a top goal for me. The road is one of the most important streets in the city and a historic part of the Olmstead Parks system, it deserves to be clean.
Eastern Parkway, Burnette St. at Eastern Parkway, Poplar Level, Newburg Rd, Goss, Ellison Ave., Bashford Manor Lane, Goldsmith Lane, and Preston are among the streets in the district that pose a threat to all road users: pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists. Many of these roads, including Eastern Parkway, Newburg, and Poplar Level are controlled by state authorities. Improvement means ending the disconnect between local and state goals. This includes a conversation about the city taking over state roads with potential for more appropriate neighborhood scale improvements. I propose we start with discussing the practicality of local take-over of Goss Ave north of Eastern Parkway. There would be greater opportunities for traffic calming, pedestrian crossings, and other improvements that will increase the attractiveness of what has become an important business corridor along Goss Ave.
Ellison Ave as currently designed encourages speeding. This results in dangerous pedestrian conditions and excessive noise for residents living nearby. Ellison Ave from Barret Ave to the 4-way stop at Reutlinger, St. Michael’s and Spratt should be converted to a neighborhood street. This involves planting trees, narrowing travel lanes, and otherwise encouraging automobile speeds more in keeping with the neighborhood surroundings. This will encourage more jogging, dog walking, and greater overall enjoyment of the street.
When MSD makes improvements it often results in unintended consequences. I’ll make sure MSD is held accountable.
Bike Ped Connectivity Across Beargrass Creek in Creason Nature Reserve
Providing a connection across Beargrass creek at the pumping station in the Creason Nature reserve is a top priority. It will add sorely needed connectivity East-West through the district.
So many of our neighborhoods with great walkability potential are not repaired to city standards, much less ADA compliant. I will focus city government attention on broken sidewalks and get the sidewalks fixed.
Our district has poor tree canopy coverage outside the Watterson Expressway. Trees mitigate the urban heat island effect, mitigate cooling costs, and increase property values. Along Beargrass Creek more trees means less flooding. I’ll coordinate city and nonprofit efforts with residents of my district to make sure anyone who wants a tree in D10 gets one! Tree plantings in the district are important to maintain a high quality of life in the district.
Vacant Commercial Lots & Parking Minimums
We have too many vacant commercial lots in the district, especially along Poplar Level Road. I’ll look for redevelopment opportunities, especially those that prioritize the needs of residents and are locally owned and controlled.
It is essential to have a conversation about the role of parking minimums on these idled commercial lots. Minimum parking imposes a large cost on businesses. The requirements are often not calculated to closely match the actual parking needs. The future of our city’s economic development requires a critical look at how much parking we require. This will allow denser building and more cost-effective reuse of structures.
Strong Housing Mix
I believe D10 should be a model in our city for urban infill and revitalization. Germantown and Schnitzelburg zoning rules and concentration of repurposed historic structures have allowed for dense, multifamily housing that has spurred an economic renaissance in the neighborhood consistent with the area’s heritage. By adding more housing (and more types of housing options) in our district, we can attract restaurants and businesses and increase the standard of living for everyone. Unlike most of the city, our district’s zoning rules support dense, sustainable, affordable housing – which guards against the pressures of gentrification and displacement for the area’s most vulnerable residents.
People feel disempowered by politics because they see policies that don’t impact their everyday lives. When Louisville asks for input from the public, it means coming to a meeting in the middle of the day and choosing between a couple of preordained outcomes. Participatory budgeting is a form of direct democracy that allows residents to invest a meaningful amount of money in their own future. It will result in greater understanding of the power of direct action and help people better understand the link between taxation and the public investments we share. We need to expand pilot programs to a county-wide program.
Protect and Expand our Tree Canopy
Our rapidly decreasing tree canopy means Louisville is getting even hotter than surrounding rural places. Our current ordinance simply doesn’t do enough, protecting only street trees and leaving trees on the 70 percent of our land area that is private land unprotected. I will prioritize enacting a tree ordinance that ensures we are mitigating increasing temperatures while being sensitive to the cost of such ordinances on low-income residents. We should start by imposing greater restrictions on the ability of developers to clear-cut previously undeveloped lots. The interest developers have in clear-cutting lots is out of step with our collective interest in keeping Louisville green and vibrant.
Our city government should aggressively reduce emissions and ensure municipal buildings are built to high standards of sustainable design. We should demand revisions to Kentucky law to allow us to enact amendments to the building code ensuring private developers are building structures ready for a green future.
Smarter, Safer Transportation
Louisvillians should have the option to walk, bike, and bus conveniently and affordably in our city. Instead of following worn out street expansion and extension strategies to move people, we have to start taking seriously the need to give residents transportation options our city currently under-provides.
Local Climate Ordinance
Our local ordinance should reflect the best current science. Our current plan is a recipe for extinction. Louisville should look to other cities creatively meeting aggressive reduction goals and become a leader in transitioning to a green economy.
Enforce Air Pollution Regulations
Metro Government is not doing enough to enforce air pollution regulations we have on the books. Too many big polluters get waivers from the city or negotiate fines when they emit too much pollution. This affects everyone who breathes the air in Louisville, but especially residents of West Louisville, who have significantly higher rates of respiratory disease. I will advocate for stronger enforcement of air pollution regulations.
Update Flood Infrastructure
Louisville has a critically deteriorated flood protection infrastructure. The horrific flooding of Houston in 2017 serves as a warning of the consequences of not upgrading our flood protection infrastructure. As a member of Metro Council, I will treat our deteriorating flood infrastructure like the emergency that it is.
Opposition to Tax Increment Financing
Let’s invest in Louisville, not a corporate vision of a mid-size city! Our economic development strategy should do more than give money to hotels and stadiums. This approach to economic development is not effective, but our current leadership is ignoring the evidence. We are losing millions of dollars every year in tax revenue, while we close pools, libraries, fire stations, and cut funding to other vital city services. These incentives were not created to build hotels and stadiums, they were created to help bring businesses to low-income neighborhoods.
I will oppose tax breaks for big businesses. Where such subsidies are considered by a majority, I will advocate for binding community benefit agreements requiring that developers give back to our communities. I will continue to be a critical voice when developers threaten to pull investments if we don’t meet their demands.
Investment in Legacy Neighborhoods
Investment is especially needed in Louisville’s West End which bears the marks of a well-documented racist history of disinvestment. The same is true for Smoketown and Shelby Park. Efforts to spur investment should include common-sense investments in sidewalks and other necessary infrastructure. Efforts to attract business must reserve opportunities for current residents to build wealth and avoid displacing long-term residents, especially those on a fixed income.
Our local business ecosystem is key to our economy. Our corporate community is important, but much of what gives Louisville its flavor comes from businesses built from the ground up by Louisvillians. I believe the future necessitates support for cooperative businesses. I will advocate for groups like the Louisville Community Grocery (previously Louisville Food Coop) and promote the development of a cooperative business loan fund as a part of our economic development strategy. I trust our residents and know we are good enough to own our economic future even if we weren’t born with family fortunes.
Public Health & Criminal Justice
Our criminal justice system is broken. We spend too much on enforcement and not enough on prevention. I support prioritizing public health spending and crime prevention efforts to make police officers feel like a part of our neighborhoods. I oppose further militarization of our police force.
Address Housing Crisis and Homelessness
Louisville is in the midst of a housing crisis. Providing safe, accessible, and affordable housing is a proven way to improve neighborhood safety. This is not just our moral obligation, it is an up front investment that will save our city money in the long run. Many of the city’s current programs don’t benefit the people most in need, instead providing an incentive to build market rate housing without giving opportunities for low-income residents to benefit. We need to call out the hype and make the necessary investments to keep our neighbors housed.
Domestic Violence Assistance
Louisville Metro contributes too little to assist people and families fleeing domestic violence. The number one violent crime police are called to respond to is domestic violence. Over the last two years we had 10,000 EPOs filed in Jefferson County. If we invest more to help people escape the cycle of abuse, we are living up to our ethical duty to protect vulnerable residents and lessening the strain on our police force. I will advocate for additional funding for programs that help survivors of domestic violence.
End Cash Bail
Too many people languish in jail before trial just because they don’t have resources to pay bail. We know there’s no link between ability to pay and showing up to court dates or threat to public safety. And incarceration costs the city thousands of dollars directly and much more in downstream effects on families and loss of productivity. As a member of Metro Council, I will not be able to end cash bail, but will propose a council resolution calling for the end of cash bail in Jefferson County.
Addiction, Mental Health, Mental Health Treatment
Too many of our residents are struggling with addiction and mental health issues without sorely needed treatment. Using our jail as a drug addiction treatment center squanders our resources and otherwise fails to prevent the adverse effects of drug addiction on a residents life. If we treat people before they’ve harmed themselves or others we’ve improved the city. I will advocate to fund drug and mental health treatment programs from a variety of large and small providers who are the key to providing the treatment we need in the city. I’ll be open to best practices like safe injection sites and other evidence-based approaches that prevent other negative downstream impacts of our addiction crisis.
I support legalization of recreational marijuana and vacating and expunging all marijuana convictions. Until this can happen at higher levels of government we need to ensure our residents are not not being prosecuted for possession of small levels of marijuana.
Louisville is a city built on historic preservation. The Highlands, NuLu, Whisky Row, Old Louisville, and Crescent Hill are all parts of the city previous preservationists fought an uphill battle to save. As a present day preservationist, I can barely fathom how they succeeded against the constant short-sighted drive to tear down and replace. I will fight for stronger landmarks protections. I will not cast a vote in favor of overturning our Landmarks Commission and will seek reversal of the ordinance allowing Metro Council to revisit Commision votes.
I support efforts to find a palatable progressive tax to cover our city deficit. We are sliding into austerity spending. Cuts to libraries, public pools, services for the vulnerable, and all other budgetary stop-gap measures reduce the ability of the working class to enjoy a high quality of life in Louisville. Cuts that remove or decrease safety net programs in the city are foolish in the long term. We will pay less for remediation now than we will ultimately pay for the consequences later. While I reject the idea that there are millions in profligate spending, I question the number of six-figure appointed positions available to the mayor’s office. These are often filled by political supporters who too often do not have credentials appropriate for their roles in the city. These positions increase our pension obligations, making it more difficult to fulfill the modest obligations owed to retired blue-collar workers.