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Primary election 2022: Metro Council District 1

Metro Council District 1 is a far-west area that includes the historically Black neighborhoods of Chickasaw, Park Duvalle and Parkland. It's current representative, Democrat Angela Bowens, was recently appointed to the seat to fill a vacancy. She is not running for a full term.

There are five candidates running in the May 17 primary elections: one Republican and four Democrats.

Charlie Bell, 44, is uncontested in this year’s Republican primary. She’s a program manager living in Park Duvalle.

Ameerah Z. Granger, 45, is a secretary at Maupin Elementary and lives in the Chickasaw neighborhood. The Democrat unsuccessfully ran for Louisville Metro Council District 1 in 2018.

Note (5/3/22): A judge disqualified Granger after Kathleen Parks, a candidate in this race, challenged her eligibility based on residency.

Tammy Hawkins, 49, is a business owner living in Parkland. In lieu of responding to the survey questions, Hawkins sent the following statement, “The issues I will address and are hearing from door to door is: crime/public safety, infrastructure (sidewalks, street lights, speed humps, services for our youth and seniors, and substandard affordable housing.)”

Kathleen Parks, 67, lives in the Park Duvalle neighborhood and is in her second term as Jefferson County Commissioner for District C. She’s an educational consultant and a professor at ASHEA American Slave History Education Academy. Parks ran unsuccessfully for Kentucky State Representative for District 43 in 2018.

Richard Whitlock Jr., 39, is a community organizer living in Park Duvalle.

Candidates responded to a questionnaire from WFPL News. Their responses were edited for clarity and length.

What are your ideas for helping residents in your district navigate the next phases of COVID-19, which could include intermittent surges, in terms of their health, finances and social needs?

Bell (R): Accessibility of community resources. A lot of our residents did not know what was available to them during the first phases of the pandemic. Promote resources.

Granger (D): Let’s be proactive! Community information can be shared via newsletter, social media, and postcards that feature safety tips. These tools can provide prevention recommendations, as well as information about nutritional supplements that are trusted and/or research-supported options. We should be providing repetitive information about agencies that test or offer relief as well as other critical care services. While restrictions of the pandemic have been lifted, we should spend the time ensuring that we are adequately prepared for increases in cases or variants. We should use available research to guide us in tending to our physical, mental, financial and social well-being. One example of this could be initiating or involving ourselves in social support circles (family, friends, neighbors, district, and Metro residents) to prevent isolation.

Parks (D): Pro-active, community-wide blitz campaign: Faith-based and neighborhood-based health outreach programs that address COVID-19 next phases, like digital immunization alerts as well as online and phone assistance with financial, utilities, housing and food insecurity. In addition, emergency partnership/neighborhood access to Non-Traditional Instruction, which is what Jefferson County Public Schools calls virtual learning, daycare for kids and emergency support for working parents and families.

Whitlock (D): Get vaccinated and/or boosters if you feel the need to be. Or don’t get vaccinated, it’s a personal/medical decision.

What investments, reforms or new initiatives would you pursue to decrease violent crime and homicides in Louisville?

Bell (R): Gun amnesty program. Mental health resources and access. Prevention is key.

Granger (D): As the next Councilwoman for the district, I would support initiatives that engage youth in 5th-12th grades in violence prevention training, cross utilize departments dealing with safety or violence prevention, partner with JCPS to broaden social-emotional learning (SEL) and anti-violence themed training. I also support providing access to workshops for parents and adults about their role in violence prevention efforts.

We must create ordinances that prevent guns from being so easily acquired by finding ways to slow down acquisition or access by inappropriate actors. Support for community mental health training is needed and should extend to those would-be service providers who struggle with affording licensing and testing fees. Assistance in the form of scholarships and fellowships is necessary for increasing the availability of mental health professionals in Louisville as a whole, but particularly in District 1, where there is a lack of providers who are culturally similar to the population being served.

Parks (D): Intentional cultural and mental health programs that directly correlate with the restoration of the neighborhood identity and family structure. All community centers, faith-based, community-based should be open to the public on a 24-hour basis and fully-staffed. The Louisville Metro Police Department should be fully trained and socially vested in this partnership initiative.

Educational business incubator programs should be throughout every neighborhood in partnership with JCPS, Jefferson Community and Technical College, Simmons College of Kentucky, Spalding University, University of Louisville, Archdiocese of Louisville and other for profit and nonprofit entities coming to the table to support entrepreneurship and highly skilled trades and technical innovation education.

Whitlock (D): Invest in those organizations and individuals embedded in historically violent communities. The Cure Violence model works!!!

In your view, what are the city's greatest needs in terms of housing, and how would you address them through legislation?

Bell (R): Home ownership, have the city to restore and or demo abandoned homes throughout the city and sell lots/homes to residents who would normally be able to buy a home. Educate about the importance of the generational wealth that would be provided for families through home ownership.

Granger (D): We first need to ensure housing for those who literally have no roofs over their heads at night and when the weather is such that no person should be without shelter. We need to ensure that our city has affordable housing that is desirable and not something that is just thrown together cheaply and without forethought. Housing should reflect the income and needs of residents in our city, meaning there needs to be variation in all neighborhoods.

Residents should have greater access to city landbank holdings and we should be reviewing financial expectations and assistance that comes with acquiring such properties. There should be a moratorium on tax increment financing (TIF) projects that strain residents for experimental capitalist ventures. There are several ordinances that support homeowners in many developer-initiated projects and we should also be looking out for the interests of renters. I would recommend considering ordinances that address rent control measures and support heavily-defined community input in proposed projects.

Parks (D): Gentrification is racially systemic and destroys home ownership opportunities for the poor and accumulation of generational wealth. A universal monthly stimulus income ordinance should be passed, allowing for every child and family to have the right to live in and qualify for affordable housing regardless of their income or credit score.

Whitlock (D): Veterans, elderly and young adults, in that order. Housing should be socio-demographic specific that doesn’t include race. Local government should try to protect its most vulnerable populations, then the rest of us, in that order.

What do you see as the No. 1 issue facing your district in the next five years?

Bell (R): Accessibility to fresh food. Not having access to fresh food is a public health crisis in District 1.

Granger (D): In the next five years, one of the most important issues facing District 1 is the development of a strengths-based approach to rebuilding, re-engaging and re-energizing the neighborhoods and ourselves as residents. There are many outside entities that want to come in and tell us what we should be doing.

Gentrification is real and problematic, and as Councilpersons we must ensure that the community is protected from harm, particularly considering some of the tactics used in the name of neighborhood improvement. With the lingering pandemic, we must be sure that we are not leaving out those residents who have not fully transitioned to increased electronic communications or who have limited access to Wi-Fi. We should hold public and private entities accountable when they would rather do the least required to engage residents about policy implications. We must prioritize and honor resident input.

Parks (D): Generational wealth.

Whitlock (D): Invest, interest and initiative.

This post was updated on 5/3/22.

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.

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