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Kentucky Primary 2020: Louisville Metro Council District 18

Historic City Hall in Louisville, Ky., on June 3, 2014. Photo by Eleanor Hasken
Eleanor Hasken
Historic City Hall in Louisville, Ky., on June 3, 2014. Photo by Eleanor Hasken

Louisville's Metro Council District 18 encompasses a part of Louisville’s East End that includes suburban cities such as Bellemeade and Hurstbourne.

Incumbent Marilyn Parker, a Republican, is running unchallenged in the primary. On the Democratic side, there are three candidates: Mera Kathryn Corlett, Noah Grimes and Susan Jarl.

Corlett was elected Justice of the Peace for her region in 2018, and is currently serving a four-year term that ends in 2022. She is also an Artistic Associate at Commonwealth Theater Center, and has a bachelor’s degree in theater and theological studies, according to her website. She was endorsed by the Fairness Campaign’s political action committee and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth’s New Power PAC.

Grimes is a carpenter and manages an infection control program with the local carpenters union. This is his first time running for office. He was endorsed by the Greater Louisville Central Labor Council, as well as Teamsters 783 and the KY United Auto Workers Community Action Program, according to his Facebook page.

His priorities include investing in public safety jobs including fire, EMS and code enforcement, as well as introducing legislation to require economic development projects use local workers.

Jarl is a consultant and also serves as a commissioner for the small city of Bellemeade. She is calling for economic development that creates higher-paying jobs and supports small businesses, improving local infrastructure including roads and parks, and expanding resources for teachers.

Mera Corlett was the only candidate to respond to a WFPL questionnaire, and her responses are below.

What are your ideas for helping residents in your district weather the continued challenges posed by coronavirus, both in terms of health and finances?

Corlett: “As a Council member, I will lead by example as I follow the CDC guidelines for proper response to the Covid-19 virus.

"I will ensure that nursing facilities, retirement communities, our schools, and other places with vulnerable populations have the personal protective equipment needed to meet their needs. One of my primary focuses will be providing information to businesses and organizations about grants and loans available to them to reinforce services. Investing in physical aspects of infrastructure is integral for every community, but I believe we must extend our understanding to include social dynamics. Through this more holistic understanding of resource distribution, we can help District 18 thrive and foster a sense of community. One example of this would be encouraging Farmers’ Markets that allow residents to be outside, encourage eating healthy foods, and support local farmers.  We must take time to collect data and contact resources in order to address the economic impact of the pandemic.  This is especially true about the Hurstbourne Parkway corridor.  I will engage in conversations with commercial realtors and developers to strategize opportunities for available retail and restaurant spaces.  There are folks living in District 18 zip codes that were already challenged as evidenced in health outcome data. It will be important to review how the Covid-19 virus may have further complicated their circumstances. It is important to recognize that recent issues may have  compounded problems already affecting people in our city.  Doing so is the only way we will be comprehensive in planning for our future.”

What, if any, reforms to the budget and policies of the Louisville Metro Police Department would you advocate for as a Metro Council member?

Corlett: "As the sincere desire to feel safe where one lives is central to all of us, that issue must be a priority for city government. I agree with Metro Council’s recent decision to ban no-knock warrants. It was a first step in what should be a long strategic process of reviewing policing practices.  The level of transparency must be enhanced and a better system for accountability put in place. Having an independent civilian review board is a best practices approach and is critical to the public trust.  I also believe that increasing training on techniques to de-escalate situations is imperative and a preventative measure that keeps both citizens and officers safer. Finally, a crucial part of the process must be to evaluate the tasks we are asking law enforcement to handle, if we are equipping them with the skills necessary for the job, and what role public health and social workers can take in some of the interactions normally handled by police.  It is vital that any changes made be outcome driven and ultimately sustainable for future safety of Louisville's citizens."

In your opinion, what is the number one issue facing your district and how do you plan to address it?

Corlett: During my conversations with hundreds of residents, what has been evident is that this district needs someone to champion the area.  Consistent two-way communication between residents and their council person has been lacking in this district. As the Council Member, I will use multiple platforms for communicating with residents. In my recent use of calling and texting, I have learned folk are concerned about issues such as speeding and business closures. They deserve links to public policy and responses to their questions. Another initiative I am committed to is arranging quarterly meetings with small city leaders and neighborhood association presidents to exchange ideas and coordinate efforts. The time has come to invest in social infrastructure. Research shows that if we do not, our population grows more and more isolated. We are living at a time when persons feel disconnected from one another, from their government, and even from themselves.  Investing in social infrastructure could make a huge difference in our future. We have the resources to create one of the most vibrant and successful districts.  It is my goal to make District 18 thrive.

Grimes and Jarl did not respond to requests to participate in the questionnaire.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.

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