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!