Bill Swope- 2018 Primary Candidate Questionnaire
Running for: Urban County Council- 11th District
Candidate Website: http://www.electbillswope.org/
1. What is the biggest challenge and opportunity facing the city of Lexington and your district (if applicable)?
Lexingtons biggest challenge also presents its greatest opportunity. Lexington is the 2nd largest city in the Commonwealth with a population exceeding 300,000 residents. In order to prosper the city must balance the need for housing and continued economic development with protecting it’s most valuable resource the agriculture industry. The 11th District is perhaps the most diverse district in the city. It’s multiculturalism should be celebrated and embraced. The Districts has a high density of mullti-family residental units coupled with a large population of absentee property owners in certain neighborhoods. This dynamic has negatively impacted property values and led to an increase in criminal activity in certain pocket’s of the community. Safe neighborhoods and schools are the conerstone of any thriving community and must be the focal point for improving quality of life.
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.
Design guidlines should be established by independent planning professionals and approved by a neighborhood plan steering committe composed of one representative selected by each stakeholder group. Recommendations shall be binding unless appealed to the full council. I would support programs that provide incentives for infill/development projects within the Urban Service Area. The incentivies might come in the form of Administrative waivers for fees associated with construction. I would also support tax incentives and low interest loans for those purchasing homes through such programs.
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?
The economic pillars of growth in Lexington are travel, tourism and agriculture. The renovation of the Lexington Center, and the development of Centre Pointe are examples of improved infrastructure that will create job opportunities. The continued support of the Purchase Development Rights program provides for new and existing opportunities in agriculture. I support growth that is smart, balanced, stratgeic, flexible and meets the goals and objectives of the comprehensive plan.
4. Why are you the best candidate for the position you seek?
31 years of experience in local and state government in management and executive levels positions has provided valuable insight into the functions of government. I have demonstrated the ability to comprehend complex issues while effectively communicating solutions to those challenges. I have futher demonstrated the ability to identify consensus based resolution while satisfying the concerns of diverse interest groups. A seat on council represents a commitment and willingness to serve. A close examination of my adult life suggest that i have a history of practicing this principle.
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?
Support services should be identified that will assist seniors in finding affordable housing that is federally subsidized or provides tax credits, new housing units should offer design features that provide for independence. Grants and low interest loans should be provided for homeowners or builders that pursue renovation projects that make homes accessible for seniors.
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?
Budgets and funding are very fluid processes from year to year. In an effort to preserve PDR I would consider funding tied to a percentage of the total budget. I would also be amenable to tax credits for agribusiness job creation tied to wages above certain thesholds.