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Residents Say They're Ready For Change In Metro Council District 4

Public art in Shelby Park.
Public art in Shelby Park.

The upcoming primary elections will likely be the deciding vote for a handful of Louisville Metro Council races.

In District 4, for instance, the field consists of three Democrats looking to replace Councilman David Tandy, who announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election after a decade in office.

Bryan Burns, Barbara Sexton Smith and Marshall Gazaway are vying for the seat.

The district stretches from Shelby Park north to the waterfront and from Butchertown west to Russell. It's a diverse neighborhood encompassing the trendy East Market Street area as well as some of the city's poorest neighborhoods.

In an effort to preview the election for District 4, we decided to find out what residents want from their Metro Council representative.

Listen to the audio in the player above.

Many, like Robert Varner, want someone who will make a concerted effort to address violence.

Varner lives in Shelby Park. He said whoever is elected to the council needs to support young people.

"Give them something to do, occupy their minds with something," he said. "They need jobs, they're out here trying to make money, and the only thing they can think about is 'I can't get no job, so I might as well go out here and rob, steal, hold people up and shoot the next man.'"

Karen Thompson is also concerned about mounting violence. She lives in Smoketown, and her own son was recently shot.

She said city leaders have been failing young people, and it's time for a change.

"These kids, from 10-years-old on up, are packing guns," Thompson said. "Wonder why? Because we've got so many kids got so much hatred inside them, they're turning on each other. I think the system could have done something about this a long time ago. They closed them doors on these kids and just left them kids where they were. Now that it's got out of hand, all you hear about is the gang-banging, wonder why?"

On the other side of the district, in Russell, Dorian Hazard said he wants a Metro Council member who will bring meaningful economic investment into the area.

Hazard, 27, said it's tough to point out anything positive that's come about in recent years. He said some houses have remained vacant and abandoned for years, and the lack of effort from the council to change that is troubling.

"They're basically indoctrinating this way of life on us," he said.

Hazard said the person elected needs to come into office with a real, tangible plan, not just talk.

"You have to show us something," he said.

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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