Listening to Corey

Campaigning is new for me, so it brings lots of happy surprises – sometimes even from my fellow candidates in District 8.

Corey Nett describes himself as a differently-abled resident of Tyler Park who joined the race for District 8 in November.  His presence made a strong field stronger, and I had looked forward to meeting him on the campaign trail.  On Sunday, Corey announced that he was withdrawing from the race for personal reasons, so I realized I could no longer wait for that meeting to happen on its own.

We got together at Wick’s on Monday.  It was a total pleasure, and just about everything Corey said taught me something.  

We can’t understand what accessibility means unless we listen to people to whom accessibility is denied.  I saw Louisville differently when one of my brothers visited two years ago and I saw how inhospitable our city was to his wheelchair.  I saw this campaign differently after meeting with Corey.  In the case of my own positions, Corey’s comments made me realize how his perspective can inform – and enrich – my own ideas for Metro Council.

As a Council member, I want to use technology to bring constituent service into the 21st Century, and Corey reminded me that doing this will not just make government more responsive; it will also make government more accessible.

Bardstown Road is the backbone of the Highlands, and I want to help my neighbors in the Highlands work together to develop a world-class vision for our busy, funky, and unsafe road.  As one such neighbor, Corey calls on us to consider burying utilities not just for aesthetic reasons but because burying utilities would make sidewalks accessible for all.  What would it mean to manage our most important urban corridor in a way that serves all of its users?

Finally, I want to work across districts on Metro Council to move Louisville towards a bigger and bolder future.  Building on Mayor Fischer’s compassion initiative, what would it mean if Louisville became the most welcoming city in the country – for all people?  How would we modify ordinances and policies, and allocate our budgets,  to do that?

Answering those questions will require a lot more listening to Corey,  and listening to others who can help us see where our city’s pride in its own accessibility (as in access to downtown and access to leaders) doesn’t match its reality.  

The subject of Corey endorsing one of the remaining seven candidates is hard to avoid.  Corey himself asked me if I would continue to support his concerns even if he didn’t endorse me.  Of course, the answer is yes.  I’m sorry he had to ask it.  

Instead of Corey asking us this question, I think that we candidates should be asking each other; the voters of District 8 should be asking us; and the citizens of Louisville should be asking all of its leaders: Are you listening to people who aren’t always heard?  What are you doing to make the city more accessible to them and their messages?

Listening to Corey is a great way to start.