Metro Council District 15 – 89.3 WFPL News Louisville

Metro Council District 15 includes portions of south, central, and west Louisville, including neighborhoods such as Taylor-Berry, Schnitzelburg, Wilder Park, and portions of Germantown-Paristown.

There are five candidates registered for the May 17 primary, all of whom are Democrats.

Alena Balakos25, is a real estate agent living in the St. Joseph neighborhood.

Jennifer Chappell, 35, is a marketing agent and account manager and lives in Schnitzelburg. Chappell serves as Chairman of the Board of Supervisors for the Jefferson County Soil & Water Conservation District. Her term of office will last until 2024.

Cassandra Colon, 65, is retired. She lives in the Taylor-Berry neighborhood. Her residential address, provided by the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, is slightly outside the district boundary, putting her in District 3. Some Metro Council districts, including 15, were redrawn late last year as part of the decade redeployment process. Council candidates must have lived in a district for at least one year in order to represent it.

Tyler Lamon, 30, lives in the St. Joseph neighborhood and is a martial arts instructor. He is a democratic socialist and community organizer.

Daniel Luckett also runs in the District 15 primary. Luckett did not respond to a request to participate.

The candidates answered a questionnaire from WFPL News. Your answers have been edited for clarity and length.

What are your ideas to help residents in your district navigate the next phases of COVID-19, which may include intermittent increases in their health, financial, and social needs?

Balakos: Apart from what is already available to us, such as B. Statewide testing, District 15 residents need to know that their social needs are being met. Louisville’s budget must include a cash pool for evictions and rental assistance. If we build a society with the infrastructure and policies for decent housing, accessible transportation, affordable health care, etc., then we have already built resilience, not just for this pandemic, but for any next disruptive event.

Chappell: People should be able to work a standard workweek in any position and be able to afford housing, food, health care and other necessities. Even before the pandemic, we’re dealing with a non-living wage minimum wage, so we can start by raising our citywide minimum wage and then expand those efforts to include mandatory mental health and sick leave along with statutory maternity and paternity leave.

colon: I would focus on directing the residents of our communities to follow our guidelines regarding safety precautions. I would use any resources available to reskill our community and those without jobs in digital technology to create jobs and help our economy on this path to recovery. I would hold job fairs and continue to find ways to get people back into their homes so they can meet their personal needs and those of their families.

lamon: Louisville needs to fund our public health agency so we can improve education and provide resources to people who are underserved. I support Medicare for All at the federal level and would support any action taken locally to make more free healthcare available to all. COVID also revealed serious workplace safety deficiencies; All workers need rigorously enforced health and safety policies and a union to fight for them.

What investments, reforms or new initiatives would you pursue to reduce violent crime and homicide in Louisville?

Balakos: The work of the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods (OSHN) is unsurpassed in its holistic approach to crime. It is vitally important to engage youth in the conversation about public safety. I support the continuation of the Youth Implementation Team, where our city’s youth are given agency and a voice to make policy proposals. Louisville Needs to Focus on Social Infrastructure Investments, Not Policing As a City Council member, I will support an increase in the Louisville Metro budget to fund OSHN programs and advocate for a permanent 911 diversionary program that would send a social worker instead of a police officer , under appropriate circumstances.

Chappell: We need to restructure our police budget to shift from investing in militaristic policing to investing in community policing. We have failed to prioritize community policing, despite our efforts to become a model city for 21st century policing, which has only widened the gap between officers and the community, tarnished trust, and diminished the perceived legitimacy of policing. We can also mitigate potential public safety issues by providing better youth programs and development resources and lifting people out of poverty. We need to invest in creating more mental health professionals and we need to make mental health care accessible and affordable.

colon: I would enlarge and strengthen our police departments by ensuring they have the resources necessary to hire and properly train police officers to deal with the sudden increase in crime in our communities. I would initiate stricter gun laws and better background checks for gun owners. I would send more cops on foot patrol to get to know your neighborhood. Our communities are becoming more diverse, so I would also provide them with translators and psychiatrists to help when mental health issues arise. We must create more economic opportunities in our city and improve the education of our youth and provide them with a better way of life.

lamon: Louisville spends more on the police every year, but this has not translated into a decrease in crime. We need social services and public goods that significantly improve the lives of people in our city. I’d like to see us fund mental health treatment programs, addiction recovery programs, and violence disruption programs. We need more common spaces like parks and libraries. Jobs should pay a living wage, and Louisville should be a place where nobody has to worry about food on the table or a roof over their heads.

What do you think are the city’s biggest housing needs and how would you address them through legislation?

Balakos: With rent increases and a lack of affordable options, many people are severely disadvantaged. Louisville needs 30,000 additional units of affordable housing. We need to change our zone codes to support higher density, encourage multi-family options, and allow for non-traditional forms of housing such as side units and tiny homes. The Land Development Code needs to be updated to allow for lower parking requirements and smaller lot sizes. However, until this change is made, rezoning requests will be directed through the Metro Council. I will stand up to developers to ensure affordable housing is a priority not just in District 15 but throughout our county.

Chappell: We need to increase home ownership so people can build equity and asset-based wealth, and we can stop stuffing landlord wallets. The city’s efforts to prevent pandemic evictions, while helping to keep people in place, mostly helped landlords get paid. I support legislation that helps with mortgage and down payment assistance and provides home repair programs and home maintenance incentives. We need to fully fund and possibly increase the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and make sure we maximize the American Rescue Plan’s housing resources. We must also hold negligent property owners accountable, particularly those who own multiple properties and fail to maintain them.

colon: I want our homes to be affordable and reflect the needs of the community they are in. The designs should complement the existing overall theme and design of the neighborhood. Getting the mix of commercial and residential development right is important and I would seek public-private partnerships to move Louisville and Jefferson County forward with sensible and rational development based on significant public contributions.

lamon: There are more vacant homes than homeless people and I believe our solution to homelessness is to take homes out of the hands of private companies and developers and put them in the hands of those who are currently homeless. We need a higher housing density, and above all we need more affordable housing. Louisville has eliminated thousands of low-income public housing units over the past several decades. We should build more social housing and it should be beautiful, it should be a place where everyone wants to live. We also need to do more to protect Louisville renters from massive rent increases, poor conditions, and unscrupulous landlords.

What do you see as the #1 problem your district will face in the next five years?

Balakos: Resident displacement is the biggest problem our district will face in the next five years. Renters and first-time home buyers have historically been able to rent and buy in our South End neighborhoods because it was affordable. However, due to rent increases, investor buying in our neighborhoods and the rush in the housing market, individuals and families are being forced to spend well over 30% of their income on housing. Renters and new homebuyers will be squeezed out of District 15 very soon. Unless our zone codes become more inclusive and affordable housing units are built quickly, District 15 residents will suffer.

Chappell: Adequate support for working-class families. Our employees need and deserve decent wages, sick leave and mental illness leave, maternity and paternity leave, childcare assistance, access to affordable health care and access to resources that help them lead more fulfilling lives. This also applies to investments in our built and natural environment, because good urban design and access to green spaces should be a right, not a privilege.

colon: Poverty and how to deal with it would be our #1 problem in this district for the next five years.

lamon: Like the rest of the world, Louisville faces an enormous threat from climate change. We will see more floods, tornadoes, wildfires, air pollution and pandemics as a result of environmental degradation. Working people will bear the brunt of this impact. A Green New Deal for Louisville is my top priority. We can bring LG&E into community ownership, control costs and switch to renewable energy. We can expand our public transport system and make it free at the point of use. We can expand our canopy, rehabilitate filthy buildings, and transform transportation infrastructure into a city that is sustainable and livable far into the future.

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