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In District 8, Some Residents Want More Of The Same

The debate in the Highlands on Thursday drew a crowd.
The debate in the Highlands on Thursday drew a crowd.

Longtime Louisville Metro Councilman Tom Owen's decision to not seek re-election drew a crowd of candidates looking to take the District 8 seat.

Seven Democrats remain on the ticket heading into next week's primary election, and with no Republicans in the race, it's likely Tuesday's vote will be the deciding factor.

The district covers the Highlands area from Cave Hill cemetery south to the Watterson Expressway and from Bowman Field west to Tyler Park.

It's home to the vibrant Bardstown Road corridor and some of the city's most popular parks, as well as affluent neighborhoods and an engaged citizenry.

S. Brandon Coan, Chris Kolb, Terra Long, Lynnie Meyer, Stephen Reily, Josh White and Charles Wooden are looking to replace Owen.

Some residents are looking for a successor who will follow in Owen's path.

Joyce Straight has lived in the district for much of her life. She said Owen set a precedent for community engagement. He's known for walking and biking through neighborhoods, knocking on doors, being keen on the issues and always being willing to talk.

Straight said whoever fills his seat should continue that tradition.

"The Highlands demands that," she said. "Anybody that follows in his steps will be the big cheese."

David Daunhauer lives near Barrett Avenue and frequents Tyler Park for evening walks with his dog, Diesel. He said he wants to see his tax dollars put toward more infrastructure improvements and civic maintenance.

"Road improvements," he said. "Cut the grasses."

He also took issue with the prevalence of short-term rentals in the neighborhoods that make up the Highlands. The Metro Council has for months been working to craft legislation to regulate the growing industry. Online home rental sites like Airbnb are flush with places for rent across District 8.

"I wouldn't want it next door to me for a weekend, especially Derby weekend," Daunhauer said. "I still like to sleep."

While each of the seven candidates vying for the District 8 seat is in favor of some sort of regulation for the industry, it seems likely any ordinance doing so will be in place before November's general election.

Parking, especially along the busy Bardstown Road corridor, is a constant battle and topic for debate within District 8. Kim Bell, owner of Kaleidoscope Hair Salon near Bardstown Road and Eastern Parkway, said the issue "is what it is."

"You're not going to shave off the corridor to make more parking, it's just not going to happen," she said. "And you're not going to plow houses down to make more parking."

She's owned her hair salon for more than two decades. And as a small business owner, she's looking for a council person who'll be an advocate for growing the area's stock of small businesses, especially women-owned businesses.

Unlike other areas of the city, Bell said, safety is not a major concern in the district. She added, however, surging drug use needs to be addressed.

"I know they worked really hard trying to keep the Highlands as clean as possible, but it's still out there," she said. "I feel like drugs are the downfall of civilization."

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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