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Election 2022 Candidate Questionnaire – Kenya Williams

Running for: Council District 8

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

Upon graduating from Georgetown College, I moved to Lexington to begin my professional career. I love the closeness of Lexington and I feel like it is a great place to raise a family. My wife and I absolutely love this city and our community.

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?

In order to address our housing shortage we must address two issues.

Issue 1: We must pay a living wage.
-I would recommend that we raise minimum wage.

Issue 2: We must build
-I would recommend a compromise between land owners and the city to free up land to be developed.

We have a housing shortage because there are more individuals and families looking to buy properties than there are properties to buy. That creates the ability for sellers to increase the price beyond affordability. I believe by paying a living wage plus increasing the opportunity to buy affordable housing would help these challenges.

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 believe that rezoning these areas should be a priority to help meet the cities needs.

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 am in full support of the expansion of the Urban Service Boundary. Although I believe in the preservation of land, I want to see our city thrive and I also want to see it on the forefront of development for cities it’s size. We can do this through the Urban Service Boundary. This will help us improve our housing shortage and also bring new jobs to the city.

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 would first recommend that the city heavily invest in communities that are under served. Incentivize business to build and invest in those neighborhoods. I would also recommend that the city look into revitalizing those neighborhoods.

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?

I see the pillars of Lexington’s strong and diverse economy is our education system. The University of Kentucky and the Fayette County school system are the two largest employers in the city and they are both diverse and unique.

Policies I would recommend for:
-Activating existing economic development land for jobs by developing the vast greenspace plus the underutilized areas in the city.
-Creating opportunities for job growth by incentivizing companies with access to affordable office space and also developing new properties for it’s employees to live comfortably.
-I would leverage our unique assets and strengths by working with land owners to provide more areas for us to build affordable housing for Lexingtonians .

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 would recommend that any piece of land that contributes to the agricultural economy of the city and state not be impacted in the expansion and search of land for development.

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 think a top priority for Lexington-Fayette County to develop in the next coming years should be transportation. I feel like that would bring more jobs for our community and it would also alleviate traffic issues in the city along with a better quality of life and experience.

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 would incentivize a rail system with many stops around the city. A rail system, like in many cities can help with traffic, reduce harm to the environment by reducing the amount of vehicles on the road, and also increase jobs. I believe this system would be healthy to transport individuals that don’t live in Lexington but, work in the city.