Metro Council District 3 candidate on homelessness, public safety
Residents in Shively and the surrounding neighborhoods will head to the polls next month to choose a new representative on Louisville Metro Council. Vying for the District 3 seat are Democrat Shameka Parrish-Wright and Independent Gibran Crook.
Parrish-Wright is a longtime activist and director of VOCAL-KY, an advocacy organization focused on ending homelessness, mass incarceration and the War on Drugs. She’s a progressive who ran unsuccessfully last year in the Democratic primary for mayor. Crook is a youth basketball coach and tournament director in Louisville. He ran against Dorsey last year in the Democratic primary, but lost by about 3,000 votes.
District 3 covers the independent City of Shively, as well as parts of the Algonquin, Taylor Berry and Jacobs neighborhoods. The winner will serve out the three years remaining in Keisha Dorsey’s term. Dorsey left Metro Council in January for a leadership position in Mayor Craig Greenberg’s administration.
Parrish-Wright attended a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Louisville Wednesday night to discuss the city’s most pressing issues. Crook declined to participate.
Louisville’s gun violence crisis
Parrish-Wright said she believes the key to reducing gun violence and crime in the city is ensuring all residents have their basic needs met. She said local government should focus on increasing access to affordable housing, improving public transportation and teaching residents about conflict resolution.
“The safest communities are the ones who have the most resources,” Parrish-Wright said.
She said the Louisville Metro Police Department can be a tool for addressing gun and gang violence in the city, but they’ll need to work on improving their relationship with the community in order to be effective. Parrish-Wright said LMPD officers should be “getting out into the communities, walking the beat.”
“And actually showing the young people how you do your jobs and what happens when they choose violence,” she said. “Helping even older people see conflict resolution, because it’s not just young people that are committing violence.”
Parrish-Wright is on Shively’s civil service commission, which makes hiring recommendations to the mayor for city leadership positions, mainly within the fire and police departments.
Louisville Metro is currently negotiating a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice after a federal investigation found LMPD had a pattern of engaging in discriminatory policing and misconduct. The consent decree will serve as a court-mandated roadmap for reform.
Parrish-Wright said the reform process is an opportunity for LMPD to ensure it’s not contributing to violence in the community through racial profiling and over-policing Black neighborhoods.
Homelessness and affordable housing
Parrish-Wright has been a vocal critic of Louisville Metro’s increased clearings of homeless encampments. She described the strategy as “playing marbles with people’s lives,” and simply moving people from one side of the street to the other.
Homelessness in Louisville increased 139% between the start of 2022 and the beginning of 2023. Asked what she would do to address it, Parrish-Wright said city officials should listen to the community groups who are already doing the work. She said Metro also needs to do more to prevent people becoming homeless.
“Some people are forced out simply because they do not have the money to pay the rent,” she said. “Our wages do not match our real estate.”
Parrish-Wright said she wants to reduce the red tape around accessing social services and increase funding for rental and mortgage assistance programs.
The city should give funding and support to small businesses in Louisville, Parrish-Wright said.
“Small businesses help motivate and stimulate our economy,” she said. “I think our administration focuses a lot on big businesses … But I want to see the smaller, local, mom-and-pop, union-owned, family businesses get supported.”
Parrish-Wright noted that District 3 has a number of large bourbon distillers, including Brown-Forman and Stitzel-Weller. She said those businesses bring jobs and tax revenue into Louisville, but they also contribute to environmental health hazards in the West End, like whiskey fungus.
She said new industrial businesses looking to locate in District 3 should go through a community consultation process.
“We have to make sure that the people have a community development agreement on any kind of thing like that that’s coming into their community,” she said. “We didn’t have a say so before … I think we need to change that and that will improve many of our environmental issues.”
LPM News reached out to Parrish-Wright’s opponent, Gibran Crook, via email on Thursday and asked for his thoughts on these topics, but he did not respond.
The general election will take place on November 7th.