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Curious Louisville Voter Guide: Angela Leet Answers Your Questions

Angela Leet by J. Tyler Franklin, Louisville Public Media-150459
Photo by J. Tyler Franklin
Angela Leet

Earlier this month, Curious Louisville, in collaboration with Al Día en América, asked listeners: “If you were moderating a debate with all the candidates for the mayoral primary, what would you ask them?”

From your responses, we chose a list of 15 questions that covered a variety of topics — ranging from the future of mass transit in Louisville, to gun violence, to solutions for racial and economic segregation — and posed them to the candidates.

Here are Republican Angela Leet's responses:

A listener wants to know: “What is your management style and philosophy when it comes to working with various agencies, departments and the public?”

As far as my management style, what I believe I like to do is kind of go in and listen and learn to actually understand what their role is and what they are trying to accomplish. When you do it in an area where you don’t have as much immediate subject-matter competency, I think it’s even more important to go in and understand the issues and listen to the advice and where’s there’s questions, ask those questions.

So, I don’t think I’m a delegator as much as a collaborator, really. And then, looking for the best way to achieve the goal and get everybody on the same page so that the whole team is working together toward that same goal.

Brennan wants to know: “What should be the future of mass transit in Louisville?”

To me, what I would love to see is our TARC bus optimized; I’d love to see a generation of children who feel like they don’t have to have a car, but can get on a bus and it’s an easy pathway to do that. I don’t think we’re there yet. I would like to see us accomplish that goal first, to where, you know, I’m excited to buy my children a pass for the summer in hopes that they’ll actually learn how to use the TARC bus and we can provide the routes that give them access to the places they’d like to be.

A listener wants to know: “What will you do to keep Louisville from being unduly controlled/regulated by Frankfort rather than the local elected officials?”

I’m a person who actually believes that if you’re going to put some regulations on paper, they need to be regulations that can be enforced, or that they’re going to be enforced, otherwise you shouldn’t have them on paper. I also think they have to be understandable to the individuals; sometimes rules get so complex, even though my intent as an individual is to comply -- because most people are conformers, they want to follow the rules — but sometimes the rules get too complex and then we fault people for not being able to follow those very complex rules.

So I believe in local control on most issues. Clearly, there are some issues that are better handled by the state or federal government and don’t belong at the local level, but there are a lot of things we should be doing at the local level and they should be clear and easy to understand for every citizen.

A listener wants to know: “What are the essential elements for a successful JCPS?”

I think the essential elements for a successful JCPS are an entire community, at the local level, that gets behind the educational process of every child. We all love our teachers, we support our teachers — they need to be given the resources necessary to help those who need additional help.

But then we as individuals need to look for ways to reach some of those who we know — whether they have economic issues or their home environment isn’t as healthy as it should be — we need to find a way to reach those children.

Gary Mudd says: “The streets of downtown Louisville are so torn up, I avoid driving there. What is your plan for making downtown an inviting place to visit?”

Well, I think one of the things as an engineer, I absolutely have a very good understanding about the roadways. I believe we have to have some economic prosperity so we have the tax revenue dollars to repair those roads; Metro Council has done a good job over the last several years, and working with Public Works, to create a three-year plan to address many roads and to address the deferred maintenance that occurred.

We got more than $120 million behind actually maintaining those roads. As mayor, I would make sure — that’s one of our essential functions. I believe we’ve got to go back to some of the basic government functions and perform those exceedingly well.

As Gary noted, we’ve gotten way behind on those roads and we absolutely have to create a priority for those, and address it.

A listener asks: “What will you do to put the citizens and residents that live here year round first and foremost before tourist, conventioneers, etc. We pay the bills through taxes, but we have to deal with the bad roads.”

Similar to my last response, I absolutely agree. I think if anything, one of the things I’ve said time and again, we have to be a hometown, not just a tourist town. It’s nice to have attractions that draw people here and help support the economy, but in reality, the employees who are here every single day are the ones paying occupational taxes and their needs must be met.

They are looking for those basic needs. A safe environment, healthy neighborhoods, streets that are paved and smooth. Those are the things I would focus on.

Dakota Neff asks: “Louisville is one of the country's most segregated urban areas, racially and economically. How would you bring our communities together and increase economic development, specifically in West Louisville?”

It’s interesting, as a councilperson, and I think I’m still — I won’t say I’m the only one — but I know when I got on board three-and-a-half years ago, I have spent a lot of time, because of my role in the budgeting process, riding around in other districts.

People would ask, ‘Why are you riding around in other districts?’ And it’s because I have to make a budget for the entire city, not just one area. I think the questioner is correct — there is a lot of segregation, but a part of it is, too, understanding people like to live in the bubble they live in. They don’t always venture out very far from their neighborhoods.

I think we need to support the neighborhoods. I’ll give several examples I’ve seen — Shelby Park, their neighborhood association is so integrated and engaged in what’s happening in the blocks around their neighborhood. Same with Portland Now. They are super engaged and they are paying attention to the everyday things and neighbors are getting to know neighbors; that’s part of how we begin to eliminate some of that by understanding one another and being neighborly again.

We’ve moved away from that and need to go back to that.

Susan Means wants to know: “What are your plans to stop the gun violence in our city?”

Well, that’s a very complicated question, of course.

I think we have to take the people off the street who are perpetrating the gun violence crimes and ensure that they’re not going back on the street sooner than they should.

Griffin Paulin says: “To your understanding, what is the root cause of homelessness, and as a follow up, how do you intend to curtail it?”

So, I believe — and I’m not an expert at homelessness, but I’ve been involved. I’ve participated in the homeless count, I’ve served meals to homeless. I’ve helped try to find people shelter.

And what I see, my observation, is that a lot of it has to do with mental health. We have to have more resources. I’ve served on different committees and been involved with some of the mental health concerns of our community, and I find it interesting that it’s been a challenge to actually find how many inpatient beds do we have, and how many outpatient beds do we have — not just for mental health, but drug addiction and recovery.

So, I think part of what I want to do is look at this as a holistic solution and where do we have additional needs in our community. I know, as a councilperson, we’ve supported things like the ‘living room model’ which does crisis intervention. I’ll continue to support that because I think they have an excellent model. There’s other great organizations like The Healing Place and the VOA that are out there, and Centerstone in other capacities, trying to deal with mental health.

I’d also want to collaborate with JCPS to make sure there’s a mental health professional in every single school. We know that these adverse childhood events or experiences — the ACEs — they do affect children and we have to be responsive to that. I think one way is to make sure the resources are right there with the children.

Rebecca Pattillo asks: “What is your stance on racist or Confederate statues in public spaces throughout Louisville?”

I’m always against anything that would spread a message of racism. I grew up in an environment where I didn’t really see color; I saw humans. I saw human beings and I saw each person’s potential, and that’s what I support.

I believe history is an important aspect so we can learn from past mistakes and not repeat them in the future.

A listener wants to know: “What local news sources do you consume on a regular basis?”

I read probably, easily, a couple hundred pages a day from different sources. The Courier-Journal, Insider Louisville, WFPL, WHAS 8.40. I don’t watch hardly any TV, and then I get notifications on my phone from news stories that pop up on some of the local news channels throughout the day.

For the most part, I read. I consume by reading, because I have trouble hearing sometimes, so I am a visual learner, so if I’m going to retain information — I actually use the internet to study a ton of different subjects. That’s the beautiful thing about the internet, it gives us such access to a broad base of knowledge about so many subjects.

Daniel Sherrill asks: “What do you plan on doing about neglected property and graffiti vandals? Those are the two things that seem to drag down our city aesthetically.”

They called them graffiti vandals and I do believe that it’s vandalism when you’re placing marks on property that doesn’t belong to you. There’s a lot of information and scientific-based evidence that says we need to be very aggressive in removing that. We also have to enforce the rules we have on the books about that. It’s damaging property, you’re harming other people, the value of their property.

I’ve talked to a woman in West Louisville who is the only homeowner on her entire block and she regularly gets tagged as a way to try and drive her out of the community, and those are the people we have to figure out how to help them and keep that area clean.

We need to move more home ownership back into our neighborhoods, which also addresses the ‘abandoned’ portion of that question and some of those blighted properties. We need to look for unique ways to not wait until they are vacant and abandoned, but try to curb that from happening that in areas where we see a trend leaning toward that direction of economic depression in a particular neighborhood and find ways to assist before it becomes vacant and abandoned.

Thorne and Sally Vale want to know: “It has become very obvious that the Louisville tree ordinance is ineffective. Our tree canopy must be protected. It is past time to establish an ordinance to stop developers and builders from taking down any tree that is in their way. What are you going to do about protecting Louisville's tree canopy?”

This is where every single person can make a difference. It is incumbent, my children know this — they learned it from a very young age — we have to each be responsible for the environment we live in. We can’t litter. If we walk past a piece of garbage, we pick it up and put it in a proper container. We have to plant trees.

We can’t rely on the government to plant all the trees because there will never be enough resources to do that. We have to engage our children to be the next generation to plant trees. There are lots of rules on the books for developers and I think there’s always opportunity to go back and engage them to continue to be responsible partners in the neighborhoods in which they are building and growing.

A listener wants to know: “What role do you believe local law enforcement should play in enforcing immigration laws? And do you support the ordinance in place that prevents police officers from assisting ICE in most situations?”

To the first portion of enforcing, I don’t believe it’s ever been our job for local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws. That is what the federal government is for and they have the authority to do so.

That ordinance has already passed and it’s established on the books. I do not believe in a sanctuary city status. I believe in following the laws; I mentioned earlier, I’m a conformist. I believe in making sure the laws are clear and creating a pathway for all citizens to be able to follow all laws. I also believe people who do not follow those laws need to be held accountable for not following them. So, I would not support a sanctuary city bill in this community.

A listener wants to know: “What is your vision for Louisville during and after your term in office if you are elected Mayor?”

What I would love to do is to see a change in the types of jobs we’re creating. We’ve had this burst of new hotel jobs, but what I’d rather see are jobs where people have an opportunity to climb up a ladder. They do one thing for a while and grow into the next position, either within that same type of job with more responsibility, or they even have learned a skill and it gives them the opportunity to change paths and do something completely different. There’s continual growth and that they’re passionate about the things they’re doing.

I don’t see we’ve created enough of those types of jobs. I want to focus on trying to attract more of those jobs and then providing training and bringing pride back, in particular, to jobs that involve being makers.

I know, as an engineer, you kind of have that maker mentality of being a creative and doing things with your hands. We’ve somehow have a generation or two that we’ve lost that pride and that enthusiasm and respect for those types of trades. I think there’s an opportunity now for us to draw that back into Louisville. I think the state as a whole wants to be considered a manufacturing center, and so Louisville, of course, should be the economic engine of that. We should be supporting bringing that to fruition, so more people can go back to work in jobs that are meaningful for them, with growth opportunity.

In doing so, we’ll also see the wages and people’s own economic position improve, and they’ll be prosperous and they’ll be safe.

You can read the other candidates' responses here.

89.3 WFPL is partnering with Al Día en América to provide Spanish-language versions of stories. To read this story in Spanish, click here.