Teresa Isaac- 2018 Primary Candidate Questionnaire
Running for: Mayor of Lexington
Candidate Website: http://isaacformayor.com/
1. What is the biggest challenge and opportunity facing the city of Lexington and your district (if applicable)?
It’s tough to pick the most important issue since all are mingled and affect each other. If I were to pick one – Safety is paramount since without this the people of the city cannot fully participate due to fear. Crime is a broad term that includes so many specifics like domestic violence, drug abuse, violent crime, etc. When I was Mayor, overall crime was at a low and Lexington was named the 7th best city to locate a business by Expansion Magazine and the 9th best city for business by Forbes.
2. The newly adopted Goals and Objectives of the 2018 Comprehensive Plan prioritize infill/redevelopment as a primary strategy to accommodate our growth needs. In fact, studies indicate there are many infill/redevelopment opportunities throughout the city. What specific recommendations do you have to protect the character and context of existing neighborhoods while pursuing this needed strategy? Would you support a program that provides incentives for infill/redevelopment projects within the Urban Services Area? If so, what specific types of incentives.
I know the balance and commitment to preserve Lexington’s rolling landscapes yet offering modern state of the art living. This is among Lexington’s biggest challenge yet such an opportunity! I am a firm believer in building coalitions that represent all walks of life. I would reinstate the Mayor’s Award for Infill and Redevelopment which was discontinued by the Newberry administration. These awards would go to developments that offer a vision for planned environments and utilizing space within the urban city limits as well as tax incentives for projects that refurbish historic or buildings in disrepair.
3. Land use planning and economic development go hand-in-hand. What are the main economic pillars in Lexington and what specific planning policies support their growth? What specific policies do you support to ensure we create 21st jobs that maximize our unique assets?
During my administration, Lexington was named 7th best city to locate a business by Expansion Magazine and 9th best city for business by Forbes. To support our unique city and the Fayette Co Agriculture opportunity, I have met with the Dean of the UK College of Agriculture to understand the needs of the industry, learn about the new technology and how we might promote our strengths to current and potential companies. I also started Minority Business Expo which allows minority businesses to showcase their talents and obtain government contracts and University of Kentucky projects. As Mayor, I made it a priority to visit existing businesses to determine their workforce training needs, their infrastructure needs, their public safety needs, and any other ways gov’t could facilitate their growth. As Mayor, I worked with UK college students who are entrepreneurs and featured their businesses on my radio show. As Mayor, I worked to attract new business to Lexington by offering them a friendly government and attractive incentives.
4. Why are you the best candidate for the position you seek?
I have the most experience within City government. Lexington was thriving when I was Mayor – the city was named in national publications as a great place to live. I led efforts to improve the health/safety of the city, increased salaries of public safety personnel, reduced budget, and crime was low. My leadership was tested with the worst ice storm and the tragic airplane crash. I work well under pressure but more than just working a checklist, I care about the people. All the people – no matter where they live, what they do, who they love or where they worship. In a political climate that is divided, I am known to unite people and work together for a win-win. One of my strengths is bringing people together and unifying rather than dividing. The challenges we faced are complicated and to solve and move forward, I would listen and appoint members to the planning commission to represent both sides.
5. Like the rest of the nation, Lexington’s population is aging. In the next decade and beyond, a majority of households will be headed by someone 65 or older for the first time in our history. Our aging demographic has significant implications for housing and neighborhood design. What specific recommendations do you have to ensure we provide safe, accessible, affordable housing to our seniors in ways that ensure they maintain independence and social connections as they age?
I support low interest loans, home improvement grants, and equipment loans to make the homes of seniors accessible so they may stay in their neighborhoods longer. I support programs like “repair affair” and the “ramp program” that make repairs and modifications for seniors at no cost. I also support programs that promote equitable development for seniors offering options to serve all budgets. As Mayor I would offer awards for creative ideas and programs that allow seniors to age gracefully maintaining independence, purpose and social connections. When I was Mayor, Lexington was named one of the participants in the “aging in place” program to study and implement ideas to help seniors have adequate nutrition, recreational opportunities, and social connections.
6. Fayette County agriculture is an annual $2.3 billion industry that supports one in twelve jobs in Lexington. Fayette County farmland is the factory-floor of this industry, which also anchors a burgeoning travel and tourism industry. To ensure continued viability of our agricultural industries, do you support an annual funding allocation to the Purchase of Development Rights Program? Why or why not. What other specific policies do you support to ensure the continued strength and growth of our agriculture industries?
I certainly am a friend to our Bluegrass farmlands. During my tenure as Mayor, the PDR program grew exponentially. There were 4,000 acres on 26 farms when we started and after four years of my leadership, the program protected 17,000 acres on 150 farms. Our PDR program is a model that other states use to preserve farmlands and I believe it began with my team and leadership. I pride myself in being equitable which is also a pillar of the Fayette Alliance, so what I allocate to the PDR program, I also would allocate to the budget for affordable housing. I know how to strike a balance and am committed to preserve Lexington’s rolling landscapes yet offering modern state of the art living. I am a firm believer in building coalitions that represent all walks of life and create new ideas. To this end, I would appoint an agriculture representative to planning and zoning; add a position to the economic development office to handle agribusiness as well as add representatives of the farming community to the Lexington Visitors and Convention Board. These additions would ensure dialogue and result in growth for this industry.