I’m challenging Mayor Fisher in the Democratic primary because I fundamentally disagree with his administration’s approach to running the city. The mayor says he has the heart of a social worker and the brain of a CEO. I believe that his heart is in the right place, but I don’t think running the city like a top-down corporation exemplifies compassion or innovation. My intention in writing this is not to smear the mayor or question his character, but to express why I think it is time for a change.
I often hear the mayor touting the fact that we have 1,500 hotel rooms across the city currently under construction. While we are providing plenty of housing for tourists and tech savvy millennials, thousands of working class families languish under the city’s ongoing affordable housing crisis. I’m not against outside talent or visitors coming to our city, but the mayor’s administration has focused a disproportionate amount of resources on making Louisville a first class destination, and not enough on making it a first class place to live. I think we need to treat the city’s growing housing insecurity like a crisis, and we need to expend significantly more resources to address it.
While the unemployment rate is lower on paper, too many hard working Louisvillians are being left behind. A rising tide doesn’t automatically lift all boats. The notion that any development is good development has its consequences. Too often the good jobs are brought to attract folks from outside of Louisville, leading to increased income inequality and economic displacement. We need more than just jobs jobs jobs. We need good jobs that create locally owned wealth.
In my experience as a grassroots activist, too often I have seen Mayor Fischer prioritizing what he wants rather than listening to the community’s needs.
When it was time to write the Move Louisville transportation plan, I watched out of touch consultants he’d hired ignore local activists who had lived our road conditions first hand.
When residents of West Louisville came out against the proposed methane plant, he ignored the community and tried to have it built anyway.
When preservation-minded groups requested the old water company building be incorporated into the design of the Omni hotel, he had it bulldozed.
When labor marched to demand latinx workers be paid the same as caucasian workers on a project subsidized by the city, he issued a vague statement about hoping contracts were followed.
When citizens wanted the proposed West Louisville Walmart to conform with the city’s land development code, he immediately sided with Walmart, then publicly blamed residents who exercised their legal rights to challenge the decision for the failure.
When hundreds of West Louisville residents came out universally against a proposal to allow a chemical company to pollute additional toxic chemicals, his administration allowed the company to increase its pollution anyway.
Democracy shouldn’t stop at the ballot box, and I don’t think the mayor’s job should be to represent developers. I think the city should be seeking and valuing community input at every step of its decision making processes. From years of work in the grassroots, I know you can’t expect where a brilliant idea will come from, and that by refusing to listen we’ll never get anything that looks even a little like justice.
When it comes to public safety, the mayor’s criminal justice policies have not helped Louisville break away from a system that continues to recycle offenders and perpetuate mass incarceration. His solution to violent crime has been to funnel more and more money to the police department. Last year his administration spent 80% of new city revenues on increasing LMPD’s budget. We have seen no leadership to find innovative solutions to fix the deplorable conditions plaguing Louisville’s jail. While he does talk about treating public safety as a public health issue, he doesn’t fund it like one. We need to do more than just talk about restorative justice practices, we need to fund them. We need to prioritize a public safety agenda with policies that will move Louisville away from a punitive system, and instead address the root causes of crime.
Finally, it seems as if mayor Fischer will take the safe road instead of being the bold leader Louisville needs. He failed to implement sanctuary policies, even after holding a rally in which he implied Louisville was a sanctuary city. He failed to take a strong position on Dan Johnson’s sexual harassment of Councilwoman Green, instead issuing a watered-down statement defending himself. He failed to show leadership on MSD’s proposed rate increase, instead punting the issue to Metro Council.
The mayor talks a lot about compassion, but too often his policies don’t match his rhetoric. We need leadership that follows through. The slogan of my campaign is “compassion through action” because I think that we have heard too much empty rhetoric. Compassion without action isn’t worth much. I believe we can make Louisville a city that works for everyone, I hope you’ll take a look at my platform to see how I think we can do it.