A Council Member’s 2nd Job – District-Wide Issues

SR_0127_002webThe second area of a Council member’s work is identifying those issues that connect every neighborhood in a district.

Bardstown Road – a Master Plan that Serves Neighbors

In District 8, that means Bardstown Road.  It’s our backbone, and it connects us all.  We love Bardstown Road’s balance of commercial activity and wonderful residential neighborhoods right next to it.  But too many people feel that this delicate balance is out of whack.  I want to work with our neighborhood associations and our neighbors to develop a new Master Plan for Bardstown Road in District 8.  We need to design crosswalks that actually work; a solution for parking that relieves pressure from residential blocks; find public transportation solutions that serve all users of the road; and achieve an overall design that honors the unique character of this important urban corridor while making it better serve the needs of the citizens who live near it and give it life.

Connecting Neighbors in the 21st Century

I also want to use my experience in building digital businesses and online communities to develop a 1-stop shop for citizens, an online platform that lets people see how their council member (and all Metro agencies) are addressing their concerns.  As a council member I need a tool like this, too.  If police are being called to Bardstown Road bars because of illegal activity I need to know about it when it’s happening, not after police have been called out hundreds of times and we read about it in the paper.  This kind of tool will bring government service into the 21st Century and also give us a chance to build a stronger community; some of the answers we need will come from the Council and Metro government, and some will come from each other.

A Council Member’s 1st Job – Constituent Service

160213_MAP_01037The first, and by far the most important, part of a Council member’s job is constituent service: listening to the real needs of every person in the district and serving them where they live: in their homes, on their streets and in their neighborhoods.  And here are a couple of things I’ve been hearing:

Pedestrian Safety

Pedestrian safety is a problem.  Almost everyone tells me that they aren’t feeling safe on their sidewalks, crossing their streets, or riding their bikes in the Highlands.  Mothers and fathers tell me they won’t let their children bike to Tyler Park or Seneca Park or Cherokee Park if it means crossing a major street.  On January 30 another pedestrian was killed – this time by a hit-and-run driver – on Bardstown Road.  It turns out that this problem is actually out of control – and it is time to enforce rules of the road that are being ignored by drivers across our district.  Here are some of the ways I want to accomplish this goal:

  • Working with police on best-in-class enforcement practices.  Drivers who don’t see police presence enough will keep ignoring the rules.
  • Modernizing constituent service to be a better conduit of information for the police and others.  A single Facebook post from my campaign has uncovered lots of specific information about dangerous intersections, but Louisville Metro Police Department’s 5th Division tells me they don’t hear a lot about this issue.  If elected Councilman, I will build tools that listen to constituents in whatever way they want to share information, and I will share it with the police and others as your advocate.
  • Working with public works to calm traffic and build world-class crosswalks that are actually respected by drivers.  Everywhere I go people want speed bumps, and we should explore their use more fully.  Other tools can also work, whether narrowing streets (as on Payne Street) or building islands in the middle of wide residential intersections to keep cars from speeding through.  We also need more stop signs at intersections where cards build up speed.  We should also look at a city-wide ban on hand-held phone use in cars.
  • Looking at other cities for examples.  We are not the first city or district that wants to calm traffic in residential neighborhoods, and we can learn from them.
  • Measuring our problems – and our success.  I have relied on data in all of my civic work to identify problems, to compare Louisville to other cities, and to determine whether we are succeeding at addressing our biggest challenges.  I will do this in pedestrian safety as well, using public information and survey tools to evaluate exactly what the situation is; to compare us to other similar districts in Louisville and other cities; and then to measure whether we are getting better.

Neighborhood Plans

People want a council member who will stand up for neighborhood plans and the rights of citizens to shape the future of their own neighborhoods.  I deeply respect the democratic process by which our neighborhoods have developed neighborhood plans, and I will defend them as a Council member.  My own neighbors know that I led the effort to oppose plans for a building that was 3 stories taller than our own neighborhood plan allows, in the middle of a block – and we won.  (You can see my answers to questions about this work here.)  I’ll do the same for all my neighbors in District 8.

Our Kickoff Event Was Anything But ‘Mellow’

 

12631398_968937906508404_7459346903815996665_nMy campaign “officially” kicked off this month with a high-energy event at the Mellow Mushroom. (Check out this recent story on the my friend Andy Blieden’s successful renovation of this Highlands brownfield into a neighrbood gem) More than 200 friends, old and new, joined me and my family for the start of what I know will be an exciting, invigorating and gratifying experience.

David Jones, Jr. and Mary Gwen Wheeler gave eloquent introductions, and then  I told everyone who gathered for the kickoff what I’ll be telling voters as I knock on doors for the next three months. As a Metro Council member, I plan to work with my constituents, my colleagues and all Louisvillians to help make our city a better place to live, raise a family or start a business. In equal measure, I will draw on my experience as a successful business owner and supporter of progressive causes, while actively listening to residents’ ideas and concerns. I approach this process with humility and a willingness to work with and for my neighbors.

Thanks to everyone who made the timme to support me on this big night. I can’t do this alone, and I’m grateful to know so many great people are behind me.