Building a fairer, bolder, stronger Louisville together

This piece appeared in The Courier-Journal on May 10, 2016.

Some of you are lifelong Louisvillians who anchor your neighborhoods and extended families. Some of you (like me) chose Louisville as your hometown because it’s an amazing place to raise a family, start a business and give back. And some of you are newcomers, attracted by Louisville’s welcoming spirit and a feeling that it’s on the cusp of becoming one of the special, winning cities of the 21st century.

I have met you all as I have walked the neighborhoods of the Highlands over the past few months: the loving father at St. Raphael’s parish; the empty-nesters living near Cherokee Park; the teacher looking after her neighbors in Deer Park; and the young gay couple who know that the Highlands will respect and protect them.

The world is urbanizing, so is Kentucky, and so is Louisville – nowhere so much as in the Highlands. How we manage that process will determine who we are as neighbors, as parents, and as people who can push Louisville forward to its full potential.

That means we need neighborhoods that remain truly livable even as our streets become cut-throughs for traffic; a Bardstown Road that serves neighbors (and home-grown businesses) as much as it serves the visitors we welcome to it; and a city that honors our neighbors and embraces newcomers.

Among the candidates for District 8, I alone have a record of success in both the for-profit and not-for-profit space, building new businesses from scratch and creating jobs that make it possible to live good lives in Louisville.

Among the candidates for District 8, I alone have a 20-year record of public support for progressive Democratic candidates and causes that treat our fellow citizens with dignity and serve as the foundation for economic prosperity. People of Louisville know we can’t turn back if we want to succeed; just look at North Carolina.

That record is why I’ve received endorsements from groups like C-FAIR (Fairness), the Sierra Club and our firefighters.  And it’s why progressive heroes (and strong women) like former Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen, Sen. Denise Harper Angel and Rep. Mary Lou Marzian have endorsed me as well.

Like you, I love Louisville deeply.  And I love the idea of serving your daily needs, supporting your vision for the Highlands and working with 25 other council members to build a fairer, bolder, stronger Louisville together.

Endorsed by Denise Harper Angel

Denise Harper AngelThank you to District 8 resident and State Senator Denise Harper Angel for endorsing my campaign for Metro Council!

In the words of Senator Harper Angel, a strong progressive leader: “Stephen Reily has been standing up for Louisville’s women and families for 20 years. I know he will do the same on Metro Council.”

Endorsed by Crit Luallen

CritLuallenCrit Luallen represents the highest standard of public service that I expect to see in my lifetime. Among the many ways she has served us: as Founder of the Governor’s School of the Arts, as Head of the Greater Louisville Economic Development Partnership (predecessor to GLI); as two-term Auditor of the Commonwealth; and as our Lieutenant Governor.  I have known and admired Crit for 20 years.  But I never imagined I would earn her endorsement.  Here is a letter she wrote about my campaign (the Courier-Journal has published it as an op-ed):

Dear Friends,

Having worked with seven governors and held statewide office as auditor and lieutenant governor, I have learned the value of strong elected leaders and candidates who can take the torch as it is passed to their generation.

Which is why I was so pleased when I heard that Stephen Reily had decided to run for elected office as a candidate for the Metro Council’s 8th District.Having worked with seven governors and held statewide office as auditor and lieutenant governor, I have learned the value of strong elected leaders and candidates who can take the torch as it is passed to their generation.

An entrepreneur, Stephen is passionate about Louisville and has a proven record of producing results at all levels of his community engagement. He has worked to grow the economy through the Greater Louisville Project; he brought a focus to improving educational attainment through his work with 55,000 Degrees; and he is the driving force behind the new West Louisville FoodPort, which is creating desperately needed local jobs as well as a more sustainable future for local agriculture.

I have long admired the way Stephen and his wife, Emily Bingham, have supported Kentucky’s women. They have fought for access to reproductive health services and have been steadfast backers of Emerge Kentucky, a statewide program that identifies, trains and encourages women to run for office. And the company he founded and continues to operate, IMC/Vibrant Nation, is a thriving firm staffed and led entirely by women.

At a time when it is easy to become discouraged about the political process, it gives me hope to see someone of Stephen’s caliber step forward. Stephen will bring a clear and positive vision for the community’s future to the job. His decisions on the Metro Council will be marked by integrity and a strong moral compass – and they will be informed by listening to and learning from the people he serves.

I am proud to endorse Stephen Reily and encourage voters to support him for Metro Council in the Democratic primary election on May 17.

Crit Luallen

 

Who I am – #1 Fundraiser or Not

The Courier-Journal today reported that I have raised more money than any other candidate in this Metro Council race.  It’s true.  In the reporting period ending March 31 I raised more than 75% more dollars from outside contributors than any other candidate.

But some comments suggested that money is the answer – or that I think so.

Money can’t buy votes – just look at Jeb Bush. A 100-day race in a crowded field requires hard work AND resources, and I am deeply grateful for the broad and deep base of support I have attracted, from 40% more individual donors than any other candidate received. Just as I’m grateful for the endorsements I’ve also received, from C-FAIRLouisville Professional Firefighters Local #345Cumberland Chapter of the Sierra Club, and Crit Luallen.

For those of you who don‘t know me – or know me only because of my amazing wife Emily Bingham, whose family’s legacy I deeply respect – or who don’t know how hard I worked to become a Supreme Court clerk and successful entrepreneur, here’s where I came from:

I grew up as the youngest child in a big blended family. The three most important influences were my parents and my paternal grandmother.

My grandmother was the second woman in the 20th Century to win the Times-Picayune “Loving Cup” awarded to citizen leaders for unselfish service; that service included leading the League of Women Voters of the U.S. and efforts to reform politics in New Orleans in the 1930s and beyond. My father learned his independence from his mother. Primarily a businessman, he was tolerant and respectful of others in an age when many of his peers were not; an award-winning athlete himself, he never imposed expectations on his five sons to follow the paths he chose. He always told people what he thought. My mother modeled a life of service and looking out for people whom others were ignoring. Always sensitive and generous to underdogs, she volunteered with the homeless, the intellectually disabled, and AIDS patients. She led our state mental health organization when it forced the State of Louisiana to reform its own state mental health hospital. She built a health clinic in one of our most vulnerable neighborhoods. She did all this with a consoling and uplifting spirit.

I was raised to work hard, to give back, to embrace strong positions, and to remain always open to the perspective of people from every background.

That is why I am running for Metro Council. That is why I spent another 6 hours today knocking on doors and asking my neighbors in District 8 about their lives and needs – and asking for their support.

And that is why I’m getting it.

Thank you.

The FoodPort

The people I meet on the campaign trail want strong neighborhoods in the Highlands and in every part of Louisville. I am proud to be building the West Louisville FoodPort, using our hunger for local food to feed our hunger for economic opportunity and health for everyone. Louisville will have a fairer, better future only if we work and walk together on this path.

Endorsed by C-FAIR

CFAIRI am honored and humbled to have the endorsement of the Louisville’s pre-eminent LGBTQ rights organization, C-FAIR/the Fairness Campaign, for my campaign for Metro Council. I supported Louisville’s first steps towards a Fairness Ordinance in the 1990s; I’ve continued supporting Fairness, and I won’t stop now. On the campaign trail I will honor this endorsement by listening to all the voices in District 8. And if elected I will honor this endorsement by fighting for individual rights and the rights of cities like Louisville to protect their own.

 

Endorsed by the Sierra Club!

Sierra Club Endorsement Photo

I am very grateful to the members of the Kentucky Sierra Club for entrusting me with their endorsement as the next Metro Council member for District 8. I have spent more than 20 years here advocating for responsible development and for sustainability, and making my own long-term investments in the same causes, at home, at the West Louisville FoodPort, and elsewhere. I hope to honor this endorsement by focusing on three primary goals on Metro Council:

  • A Greener Budget. Metro Council should spend less time reacting to individual line items in the Mayor’s budget than focus on its overarching goals. As a Metro Council member I would work with others to focus on the strategy underlying the Mayor’s budget, looking for a bolder vision – and then a bigger budget – on investments in health and sustainability. At the Greater Louisville Project, whose Policy Board I have chaired for 6 years, we use data to measure Louisville against its peer cities. I would do the same on sustainability. We cannot build a healthier city for the 21st Century – much less identify ourselves as a leader among cities – if our investments in sustainability do not match or exceed our peers. If Louisville fails that grade I will call attention to it, and work to make us a city that uses its financial resources in a way that honors our natural resources.
  • A Healthy City for Everyone. The disparities in health outcomes and life expectancy in Louisville depend far too much on where you are born and live. I would focus on two issues in particular:
    • Air quality. Ted Smith, Louisville’s Chief Innovation Office and Director of the Institute for Healthy Air, Soil & Water has led efforts to develop effective monitoring tools for air quality; the Metro Council now needs to demand action (and direct resources) to improve those metrics. Every child should grow up breathing clean air in Louisville.
    • Tree canopy. We now know the sad statistics on tree loss and heat islands in Louisville. Metro Council needs to support a no-net-loss policy on tree loss and a dramatic increase in trees where our heat islands are the hottest. At the West Louisville FoodPort we will plant hundreds of trees on what is now a barren brownfield; we will build a 2-acre demonstration farm for the Jefferson County Extension to operate; and we are looking for partners to develop a nursery to grow native trees for planting in West Louisville, creating job opportunities and cleaner air at the same time. We need to require other developers to do the same.
  • Citizen Engagement. If you give people information and a chance to shape their own future, they will choose a greener and more sustainable future. As a Metro Council member, I will use, encourage, and enable a fully engaged base of citizens in shaping their own future in the Highlands. I want to connect all of my neighbors and the neighborhood associations and small cities of District 8 on a Master Plan for Bardstown Road (the backbone of our district) that incorporates world-class ideas for parking, public transportation, pedestrian safety, trees, and utilities – and I am confident that an open and transparent process will help citizens develop a future they are proud to own. I will encourage Metro Louisville and Develop Louisville to adopt similar practices. Civic leaders sometimes appear to think that progress and citizen engagement are in opposition. I disagree, and I believe that it is easier than ever (primarily through technology) to promote civic engagement and to make Louisville a model city where informed citizens can shape their own future.

Please join me in building a more sustainable Louisville that honors its natural beauty and lives up to its potential as a leading city of the 21st Century!

Our Louisville

What vision do we all share for District 8 and Louisville? The chance to embody Louisville’s welcoming spirit towards ALL people – our neighbors who already live here, the ones we will attract, and the employers who will flock to a Louisville that moves enthusiastically into a fairer, better, bolder future. Let’s build it together.

Cherokee Triangle Association questionnaire

The CTA sent the candidates questions on a wide variety of topics of importance to our neighborhood and all of Metro Louisville. These include preservation, neighborhood plans, zoning, and Baxter Avenue/Bardstown Road development. You can read all of the candidates’ responses in entirety here. My responses appear below.

It appears to the Cherokee Triangle Association there are not enough staff members in the Landmarks department of Metro Louisville.  Would you support increased funding necessary for Landmarks staff to enforce rules and regulations on the books affecting historic neighborhoods?

There has been a dramatic decline in staffing devoted to Landmarks, through attrition and reassignment, in recent years. In the wake of the 2008 Recession some of that decline may have had some justification: Metro revenues and new development proposals were also declining during that period. But revenues and development proposals are both increasing now, and funding for Landmarks should increase again. As a Council member I would advocate for Landmarks funding and staffing benchmarked against other cities that value their architectural heritage and its role in promoting both cultural and economic growth.

Would you support Landmarks staff, which was created to uphold rules and regulations supporting historic preservation districts and individual structures throughout Metro Louisville? If yes, how would you support them?

Yes. I would support Landmarks staff in the following ways:

• Helping staff work with constituents on preservation issues through the application process, the Architectural Review Committee, Landmarks Commission, and all aspects of the planning process;
• Supporting budgets that allow Landmarks staff to do their job effectively; and
• Respecting the positions they take in the planning process – not overruling their recommendations in the Landmarks/Planning process.

Would you favor developing a process to identify when neighborhood plans need to be reviewed or changed?  If so, would you require an opportunity for input from all neighborhoods affected?

I respect neighborhood plans and the democratic process by which neighbors develop a vision of what they want their neighborhood to look like. As a Council member I will stand up for those plans, which should not be modified or ignored by the Council. If the Council were to consider a “process” by which neighborhood plans should be reviewed or changed, I would certainly require input from all affected neighborhoods.

I chaired the CTA Subcommittee on the proposed “Cherokee Grande” project, one in which we successfully opposed the construction of a 6-story building in the middle of the 1000 block of Cherokee Road because it was 3 stories and over 25 feet taller than allowed under our Neighborhood Plan. I respect the role that Planning and Zoning (now Develop Louisville) staff members played in that process and would respect their expertise and experience as a Council member.

Would you require input from affected neighborhoods should the Metro Council wish to make any changes to neighborhood plans (including a decision that a plan is no longer valid)

Yes (see above).

What sort of development would benefit the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood  What would harm it?

Development in the Triangle should, first of all, comply with the Cherokee Triangle Neighborhood Plan of 1989 and with the guidelines associated with the Cherokee Triangle Preservation District established in the early 1970s. I believe that the District Guidelines and the Plan itself – and the reasonableness which the CTA and neighbors have shown in applying it – allow for sufficient flexibility to allow for creative and beneficial development, especially in the 20-odd nonconforming lots that are most likely to see new development proposals.

I have already described my leadership role regarding the proposed “Cherokee Grande” building in the middle of the 1000 block of Cherokee Road. While I would welcome redevelopment of sites that contain nonconforming uses I know that developers can make money with buildings that conform with our neighborhood plan, and I know that neighbors are willing to allow developers enough flexibility to succeed.

In the Triangle’s commercial corridor (primarily on Bardstown Road), development should comply with the Triangle Neighborhood Plan, the Bardstown Road Overlay District and other applicable guidelines and regulations.

In addition, Develop Louisville and the Metro Council should immediately examine the rules that allow bars and restaurants to provide so few parking spaces related to their scale of operations; these formulas are putting unacceptable pressure on the residential neighborhoods that surround them.

In August of 2013, the Louisville Metro Council voted to up zone the Bordeaux Apartments property (corner of Willow and Baringer Avenues from R-7 to R-8A.  This change increased substantially the housing density allowed on that site; it also reversed the 1989 Cherokee Triangle Neighborhood Plan that established the zoning on that property R-7.  This zoning now allows the Willow Grande to be built at 15 stories high.  If you were a Metro council member in 2013 would you have voted in favor or against up-zoning this site to R8A? Why would you have voted in that way?

I would have voted against the up-zoning of the Bordeaux property. The Council should respect the decisions of the Planning Commission and should not overrule Planning Commission decisions as it did in this case.

The commercial viability of the Bardstown Road/Baxter Avenue corridor is vital to the health and success of the surrounding neighborhoods.  Issues such as 4:00am liquor license benefit businesses while creating additional problems for neighborhoods. How do you propose businesses and neighborhoods balance commercial and residential needs to ensure the continued success of both?

As I listen to residents of the Triangle, the Original Highlands and other neighborhoods in District 8, it is clear that the balance between commercial activity and residential life (something that drew most of us to this neighborhood) is out of whack.

As a first matter, I will stand up and do whatever it takes to ensure that existing laws are being enforced. I will also use my experience in building technology companies and online communities to create a single platform where citizens can see how their Metro Council representative and all government agencies are serving their needs. This platform will also help me know when commercial activity is veering out of control. A Council member needs to step up and defend his constituents and their residential interests. This can all be done while honoring and encouraging commercial development on Bardstown Road.

I propose to engage all neighborhood associations, commercial guilds and neighbors in a new Bardstown Road Master Plan that addresses important issues like parking, pedestrian safety, and public transportation that serves all users of Bardstown Road. Our city’s most important urban corridor deserves a plan that honors its character and ensures that it serves the people who live alongside it.

How do you propose helping neighborhoods manage issues associate with 4am alcohol Licenses?

I will support efforts to limit late alcohol licenses where they are not appropriate, and encourage Metro ABC to judge them on a case-by-case basis. I am attaching a letter my wife and I submitted last year in opposition to a 4:00 AM liquor license application for 814-816 Cherokee Road as evidence of my approach to these matters. I followed up on this letter with an in-person meeting with Metro ABC officials. Late licenses should not be automatically granted to all bars. As a Council member I will support residents in such efforts, including advocating for decisions that support their views in Frankfort.

While 4:00 AM licenses are likely to remain with us on Bardstown Road, I will also direct my efforts to minimizing their impact on residential life in the blocks nearby, by enforcing other rules (on excessive noise and criminal activity), and by developing a Master Plan that keeps more of the people who visit businesses on Bardstown Road remain on Bardstown Road.

Describe your philosophy of the role of representative as it relates to District 8 and Metro Louisville as a whole

A Metro Council member’s job falls into three categories:

• Constituent service. This is by far the most important, and I will listen to and serve the needs of my neighbors right where they live – in their homes, on their streets and in their neighborhoods. A Metro Council member must be willing to stand up to defend residents and their right to shape their own neighborhoods.
• District-wide issues. I will seek to connect all neighborhoods and neighbors on the issues that connect us all. This includes Bardstown Road and developing a plan that serves the residential neighborhoods that give it life.
• City-wide issues. As a Council member I will work across districts and with other Council members to develop majority support for issues that the citizens of District 8 want to see advanced on a city-wide basis. I have a long record of working with other civic leaders to advance important goals like education, health and the arts, and will work with my fellow Council members on the issues that create a better Louisville for every citizen AND attract newcomers and companies to our city and its amazing neighborhoods.

Metro Council members have recused themselves from some matters due to declared conflicts of interest.  In advance of the election, are you willing /open to disclosing the occupations and or investments of all your family members in order to discuss areas of possible conflicts of interest?  If so, please provide a list of such possible conflicts.

The only financial interest I hold in District 8 is my ownership, with my wife, of property located at 1074 Cherokee Road, the first house built in what became the Cherokee Triangle. We bought the main house at this address in 1995 and a few years later purchased its carriage house, which had been legally subdivided into two separate condominiums. I am fully invested in the success of the Triangle as an important residential neighborhood.

I chair the board of Seed Capital Kentucky, a non-profit organization that is developing the West Louisville FoodPort, and although I have no personal financial interest in that project I would recuse myself from any Metro Council decisions relating to it. A company I control owns my office building at 200 York St. south of Broadway. Although my businesses employ many people in Louisville, our revenue is almost entirely generated from clients outside Louisville. I have no other financial interests that pose any conflicts of interest with Metro Council matters.

I would be happy to make disclosures related to myself and other immediate family members to answer any specific questions regarding conflicts.

How important is historic preservation in Metro Louisville, especially in Landmark neighborhoods in Metro Council District 8, such as the Cherokee Triangle but also including other Landmark neighborhoods?

As I think you can tell from my earlier answers, I believe that historic preservation is incredibly important in Metro Louisville. The best way for Louisville to grow and to move forward is by doing so in a way that honors our past and our unique character as a city. Preserving our natural heritage as a portage and watershed is also critically important.

I grew up in another city that honors its historical legacy – New Orleans – and I came to Louisville in part because of this city’s own cultural heritage, one embodied in both the natural beauty of its location and the built environment that makes it such a welcoming home for natives and newcomers. The Cherokee Triangle embodies that beauty and that spirit.

I believe that preservation in other Landmark neighborhoods is also important. I have extensive hands-on experience in preservation beyond the Triangle, including:

• Negotiating historic easements on many buildings and properties in Jefferson and Oldham Counties with several preservation organizations, including the Kentucky Heritage Council.
• Working with preservation organizations and the State Historical Preservation Officer since the mid-1990s on preservation issues in multiple hearings and filings under the National Environmental Policy Act and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Supporting Gill

12378065_1005834682818726_6161103572065418225_oMy old friend, Gill Holland, has a completely different race for Metro Council from my own. My campaign is all primary; he has no primary. My district is majority Democratic; his is not.

But we want the same great things for Louisville and it would be an honor and a pleasure to serve on the Metro Council with him. I enjoyed taking a break from door-knocking to attend his campaign kickoff tonight.

Wherever you live, like his Facebook page and offer Gill your support. If you have friends in District 16, tell them to do the same, to request yard signs, and to vote for him in November!