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Primary election 2022: Metro Council District 5

Metro Council District 5 encompasses the farthest northwest portion of the city, including parts of the Chickasaw, Shawnee, Portland and Russell neighborhoods.

There are three Democrats running in the primary on May 17.

Ray Barker is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and retired police officer, according to his campaign website. He says he’s focused on reducing crime in the district, adding a highway ramp at 34th Street and Broadway, rebranding west Louisville and creating youth programs.

Donna Purvis is the district’s current Metro Council member. The small business owner and former Humana employee was elected in 2018. At the time, she said she wanted to hold property owners and code enforcement accountable, and she was focused on improving infrastructure in the area. She lives in Chickasaw.

Sherlena Watkins, 49, is a paralegal living in Shawnee.

Only Watkins responded to a questionnaire from WFPL News. Her 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?

Watkins: My district was heavily affected by COVID-19. The disparities were exacerbated. I will advocate to ensure that my district gets access to resources to become healthy, wealthy and wise. Due to the misinformation and conflicting information, many in my community don’t know what to believe. Norton Healthcare may become the largest employer in west Louisville. I will advocate to ensure that they are hiring within the community and that these jobs pay a living wage, that grants are available to those who need assistance with home repairs and updates, and work with the Neighborhood Place to ensure that more locations are available to those in our district.

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

Watkins: Due to the intentional disinvestment in my community, crime has escalated. If you don’t water a flower it will die, and that’s what has happened. I will sit with the residents to collectively come up with ideas to address the symptoms that cause people to commit crimes. Physical and mental help, living wage jobs, affordable housing, reopening community centers, drug rehabilitation access, equitable education and transportation are some of things that are needed to prevent crimes.

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

Watkins: Louisville has been in a housing crisis for years. First, I would vote to fully fund the Affording Housing Trust Fund and ensure that affordable housing is brought to my district. Secondly, I will vote to institute a tenants union and, third, I will continue to fight against the developers that are attempting to gentrify my district.

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

Watkins: Gentrification.

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

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