Steve's 2018 Campaign Kickoff Speech

Print Version | Speech delivered January 25, 2018

It is a privilege to announce that I am running for re-election to an at-large seat on the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council. 

More than re-election at-large, I am running to serve a second term as your Vice Mayor.  

Support is earned…I believe I have earned your support through effective work on Council that reflects the values and practices we share. 

This is a crucial time for our city.  Significant decisions will be made over the next four years as we deal with the opportunities and challenges presented by continued growth.     

Let me take a few (of your) moments to explain what that means to me; I hope you agree it means the same thing to you.

  The Big Picture

I say Lexington is a wonderful place, yes or no? Are there ways to make it better? I want to challenge you to think with me about Lexington through the lens of three related categories: people… purpose…, and place

People have to come first.  We must include and think about everyone in our community, without exception, when we make policy decisions and when we decide how to allocate our limited resources.  Those decisions must maintain the quality of life for those who are able to take full advantage of all that our wonderful community offers, and they must improve the quality of life for those who are not able to do the same. What good is a rising tide, if there are no people in the boats?

Next, Purpose.  Purpose is based on the values we share, and on the vision for our community that is rooted in those values.  Every decision we make should be guided by a clear and deliberate sense of purpose for what we want our community to provide for those who live here, and how we want our community to feel to those who visit.   

Place is last on the list but is no less important than people and purpose. This is where we live our lives.  This is where we go to work.  This is where we send our kids to school.  We plant our tomatoes in Lexington!  There isn’t a 20 square-mile radius on the face of this beautiful planet more relevant to the quality of our lives than right here in Lexington. 

What makes our “place” special and valuable? The answer is more than just the fact we all live here.  Maintaining our identity… is a must.  Protecting our unique, beautiful and productive rural landscape is key to our identity, and it is crucial for the long-term growth of our economy and the maintenance of our quality of life.

So, what needs work around here?  Plenty.  And that is the practical challenge of balancing people, purpose, and place.

There are few more direct ways to serve People than by enhancing food and shelter infrastructure.  I am proud to say that the recently initiated Bluegrass Farm to Table program has increased the consumption of locally grown food for everyone and increased access to that food for low-income residents.

Thanks to the collective efforts of the Mayor’s Commission on Homelessness, which I had the privilege of chairing, our city has dedicated $2 Mil annually to increase the availability of affordable housing.  We leveraged funds at a 6 to 1 ratio to create or save over 1100 units for affordable housing over the last three years. 

We also created and funded the Office of Homelessness Prevention and Intervention, whose Housing First program provides housing and support services for chronically homeless people.  And because we know that a leg up is more valuable than a hand-out, we are funding outreach teams which encourage the use of services, connect people to service providers, and direct panhandlers to day jobs.

As for purpose, I believe the role of government is to do collectively what we cannot or do not want to do individually.  My budget priorities start with basic services and extend to quality of life.

I try to discourage whack-a-mole budget decisions in favor of more strategic, long-term, solutions.  We pay as we go, but we stay focused on where we are headed.  

Nothing more directly impacts our “Place” than the comprehensive plan.  I led the successful effort recently to hold the line on the Urban Service Boundary, and will continue to work to balance protection of green space with the need for development.   

            On the other side of that coin, as Chair of the Infill and Redevelopment Committee, I am leading efforts to promote and facilitate smart infill and redevelopment, so that we get more efficient and effective use of existing developed land.

As your Vice Mayor, I am working hard to balance our values of People, Purpose, and Place.  I’m excited about the many opportunities to continue those efforts in the next few years, and I look forward to serving our community again as Vice Mayor.