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An interview with Mayor-elect Craig Greenberg

Lawyer and businessman Craig Greenberg will take over the reins of Louisville Metro Government when Mayor Greg Fischer leaves office in January. 

Greenberg, who’s the former CEO of 21c Museum Hotels and co-owner of Ohio Valley Wrestling, defeated his Republican opponent Bill Dieruf in Tuesday night’s election with roughly 52% of the vote. Precinct-level data provided by the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office shows Greenberg performed well in Louisville’s urban core and in areas in the east, but voters in the South End and suburban Jefferson County went with Dieruf. 

WFPL News caught up with Greenberg Wednesday morning to talk about his early plans for Louisville. An extended version of the interview can be found below.

  Roberto Roldan: First off, how did last night go for you? Early on in the night, it seemed like the mayor's race was going to be potentially pretty tight. But then around 10 o'clock, the governor was introducing you on stage as the mayor elect.

Craig Greenberg: It was a wonderful night. It was a great night to celebrate with supporters from across the entire city. And it was a great victory. Our margin of victory was three times larger than Mayor Fisher's first victory in 2010, which was a similar open seat election. So I'm very thrilled about the momentum that will take from the campaign into our first days of office and beyond. I think we are set up for success, set up to make meaningful change, set up to move Louisville in a new direction. And to me last night was also about the start of the next chapter. The time for politics is over. It's now time for all of us to work together, regardless of political party, regardless of where you live in the city, regardless of your race or circumstances. We all want to improve public safety. We all want more affordable housing. We all want more good paying jobs for people. So let's work together on making things happen here in Louisville. 

Roldan: While out on the campaign trail, you talked about so many issues like the ones you just mentioned, affordable housing, universal pre-kindergarten. Now that you'll be taking office in a couple of months, how do you prioritize what you want to get done first?

Greenberg: Well, public safety is certainly the number one issue. We must continue to focus on short and long term solutions to improve public safety, to reduce the amount of gun violence, of crime period, and also to invest in people and neighborhoods that have been overlooked for our entire lifetime. So, public safety is without a doubt the number one priority. And then within our administration, we'll have different folks that have different things that are their priority. We're going to have a great team, people that share my sense of urgency. We're gonna hold each other accountable, we're gonna be transparent, and we're gonna get things done.

Roldan: I think it's clear from your campaign that public safety was your number one priority. You promised to fill hundreds of vacancies in the police department, while also redirecting LMPD focus towards community oriented policing? How do you plan to balance calls from residents for, on the one hand, tackling increasing violent crime, and then instituting transparency and accountability reforms on the other?

Greenberg: I think they can go hand in hand. I think transparent organizations are stronger organizations. The hard working men and women of LMPD are doing a great public service by preventing crimes from happening, keeping us safe. And we're going to give them the resources they need to have the best training to implement community policing the way it should be, and to continue to work to prevent crime. There's no reason that can't be done and won't be done in a transparent way. Where we hold each other accountable, where the men and women of LMPD are held accountable, I'm held accountable as mayor. And that's what I think we all know when we're getting into public service.

Roldan: As you know, the US Department of Justice has been investigating LMPD in Louisville Metro for over a year now. That investigation is expected to end in a court-ordered consent decree where city officials will be required to make hundreds of changes both big and small. How is that going to limit what you want to do with public safety?

Greenberg: It's not a place where we want to find ourselves as a city, but I look forward to seeing what the Department of Justice puts forth and certainly that will be a framework for moving forward. My guess is that a lot of the requirements of that consent decree will be consistent with what I've been talking about on the campaign trail, what I've heard from folks in LMPD, and also throughout the entire community. So, my guess is that they go hand in hand and that they will be complementary to one another because a lot of what we need to do in Louisville to improve public safety goes beyond policing. It’s investing in more mental health resources to give people the services they need. It's about investing in community centers and programming, so our young adults have more enrichment and educational opportunities, job opportunities. It's about investing in our neighborhoods. That's well beyond policing. So that will go hand in hand with whatever we need to do to implement the Department of Justice reforms.

Roldan: What are some reform areas where you think your plans and the DOJ might overlap?

Greenberg: Well, the one big thing that we will institute on the first day is what I talked about on the campaign with respect to what we do with confiscated guns here in Louisville. When we confiscate guns, we will render them inoperable before turning them over to the state, which is required under Kentucky law. So, that will start on day one.

Roldan: One of the things that the DOJ seemed pretty interested in in previous consent decrees is having a strong and independent civilian review board. Louisville Metro now has a new Office of Inspector General to conduct independent investigations into police misconduct. What are your hopes for that office?

Greenberg: So I think that that board should be given the resources that it needs. It should have access to the information that it expects and requests. And that's what will happen in my administration. I think that's part of both transparency and accountability, which is what we've been talking a lot about on the campaign and which would be hallmarks of my administration. One other initiative that I'd also like to further build upon is the pilot program where when people call 911 with more of a mental health emergency, as opposed to a violent crime emergency, a mental health professional goes out on the call as well to provide better services, help reduce the cost and have our LMPD focusing on preventing and responding to violent crime and reduce the chance of unnecessary or escalating encounters. That's a program that I hope to expand beyond just the initial geographic area it's currently serving.

Roldan: One thing I think your Republican opponent Bill Dieruff really picked up on was the disconnect in the neglect that some residents living outside of the urban core feel. Some people have called this “the Waterson divide.” What are your plans to address those concerns?

Greenberg: I hear you, I understand your frustration, and the city has to serve everyone in our entire city. We have a large geographic city that covers a lot of miles, a lot of precincts. I ran through every one of the 623 precincts. We all share common issues, but some have unique needs, so we need to do a better job serving them. This is an area that I look forward to working collaboratively with members of Metro Council on to ensure that the city is serving each of the unique needs of the metro council districts, but then also working together on the common issues facing our entire city.

Roldan: My last question for you is really just a practical one. You're going to be sworn in now in about two months. What do the coming weeks look like for you?

Greenberg: It's going to really be focused on people and priorities. We've been talking on the campaign trail about what the priorities are and now it's time to assemble the team of people that's going to be working every day to implement those priorities so that we can move Louisville in a new direction. And so we'll be having a lot more announcements about that. I will also be welcoming a lot of input from the community. I want people to share their ideas and share their solutions. 

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.

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