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Election 2022 Candidate Questionnaire – Joseph Hale

Running for: District 7
Joseph Hale lexington ky

Question: What brought you to Lexington-Fayette County? What do you love about our community? 

I was born and raised in the great city of Lexington. I attended school here from Northern Elementary to a graduate of Bryan Station High School. I grew up on the North and east sides of Lexington, and 2 things I love most about our city is the unity of the people and cleanliness. Although this is somewhat of a larger city, it still has that small hometown feel about it, where everyone knows everyone.

Question: Like the rest of the nation, Lexington faces critical challenges around developing adequate Affordable housing for low-income families and increasing attainable missing middle housing for the average income resident. What specific policy recommendations do you have to address these different challenges?

This is one area I am passionate about because Yes, Lexington is facing this challenge. I would propose for zoning areas for affordable apartment complexes. There is a lot of land in Fayette county that can be utilized by builders to build Multi-family, missing middle, and high density dwellings.

Another option is purchasing renovating and utilizing some of the complexes and centers that are already in our communities. For example, infill and redevelopment.

According to the 2017 LBAR Study on Lexington’s Land-Use Policy In 1996, 4200 developable acres were brought into the Urban Service Area for development. As of 2020, 24 years after expansion, 51% of the expansion area is still undeveloped and no Affordable housing has been built in those areas.

I would recommend using some of the 51% of the undeveloped (developable) land for Affordable housing and Minority and Small Businesses.

Question: The 2018 Comprehensive Plan, Imagine Lexington, prioritizes infill redevelopment within the Urban Service Boundary as a primary strategy to accommodate our growth needs. How do you propose we incentivize infill and redevelopment to activate the approximately 17,000 acres of vacant, underused and underutilized land (much of which exists on our major commercial corridors) within the Urban Service Area? What specific policy recommendations or incentives do you think we could utilize to ensure we sustainably use our existing resources to meet our needs?

I think we can start with beautifying the areas (such as parks, trails, streets) surrounding the places planned for infill and redevelopment. The surrounding community should benefit as well as the property being re-purposed. Because there are several areas in the city that are eligible for infill redevelopment, I would advocate including money in our next fiscal budget is to incentivize infill and redevelopment.

Question: The balance between our urban and rural areas is essential to our unique economy, environment, and quality of life in Lexington-Fayette County. Since the last expansion of the Urban Service Boundary in 1996, only 51% of the land brought within the boundary has been developed, and no Affordable housing has been built in those dedicated expansion areas. Do you support an expansion of the Urban Service Area during the current Comprehensive Planning update process? Please explain.

I do agree that balance between our urban and rural areas is essential for our economy, environment and quality of life. As an advocate for Affordable Housing, I believe that utilizing what we have will be the best avenue for obtaining and creating more affordable housing in Lexington at a faster turnaround. I believe Infill and redevelopment would be primary for accomplishing this. I am not opposed to expansion of the Urban Service Area, because the growth of our city is vital to our future. However, policy will have to be created as to what we will be using the land for, and what we are doing with the other 49% of developable land purchased in 1996. I believe we should start with the unused 49% before talking about expanding.

Question: To grow Lexington-Fayette County sustainably, we must grow equitably and consider impacts on our marginalized and underserved communities. What specific policies would you recommend to incentivize community-driven investments in historically disinvested neighborhoods while preventing displacement which can result from gentrification? 

I am not sure of specific policies, however a few options I would suggest are: giving landlords an incentive to keeping the people who have lived in and built these communities for decades in their homes; educating the communities on purchasing the land they have been leasing years; purchasing the land and homes in these communities from landlords and selling them back to the residents to prevent gentrification.

Question: What do you see as the pillars of Lexington-Fayette County’s strong and diverse economy? What specific policies do you recommend for: a) activating existing economic development land for jobs, such as the nearly 250 acres at Coldstream; b) creating opportunities for job growth utilizing the significant vacant office and commercial spaces within our urban area, and c) leveraging our unique assets and community strengths to support job growth and continued economic prosperity?

As Lexington houses one of the top Universities in the country, Kentucky is home to some of the richest land, beautiful horse farms, most bourbon distilleries in the country, and Fayette county has some of the top hospitals in the country, I see our pillars are Education, Agriculture, Tourism, and even Healthcare. Once in office I can look into the policies we already have in place for activating the development at Coldstream and other areas, however, we need to look at our unemployment rate, take a survey of the educational level, skills, and experience of the unemployed to understand why, then from there we can decide how we can utilize this land with development that will bring jobs that can bring that number down.

Question: Fayette County agriculture industries are a significant part of our local economy and cultural identity, having a $2.3 billion dollar annual economic impact, supporting 1 out of every 12 jobs, and anchoring a $2 billion dollar local tourism industry. What specific policies do you support to ensure the continued strength of our agriculture industries and the rural land that supports them?

I am in support of policies that will help preserve our agriculture industry, our horse farms, and the natural beauty of our city.

Question: The federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funds offer Lexington-Fayette County a transformational opportunity to invest in transportation, water, power and energy, environmental remediation, public lands, community resilience and broadband. What specific policy recommendations do you have for approaching quality of life investments and capital improvements to make the most efficient use of these funds in the coming years? What are the top priorities for investment in Lexington-Fayette County?

I feel the top priority of investments would be in water and power and energy, and transportation, as these are the things that insure the quality of life for the people of Lexington.

Question: According to the Center for Neighborhood Technology, the average Lexingtonian spends 24% of their income on transportation costs and 26% on housing. What specific policies would you propose to incentivize public transportation, bike/pedestrian improvements, and walkable developments near existing infrastructure to help alleviate both traffic and transportation costs in our community?

I support incentivizing new and existing developments (residential/commercial) that have bike/walking trails, and that connect to some of our current trails such as Legacy. I would also support expanding the service area for Lextran.