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Election 2022 Candidate Questionnaire – Preston Worley

Running for: Council District 7

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

Like many central Kentucky natives, I came to Lexington for college and decided to stay, settle down, and raise a family here. I love that Lexington feels like a small town, but has the resources and opportunities of a larger city. I also love cheering for my alma mater in the town I live in. Go cats!

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?

Both in my private law practice and on Council I have supported many affordable housing initiatives; specifically the affordable housing fund, into which our city has invested over 24 million dollars since it was created. I supported the most recent investment of $10 million dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act funding into Affordable Housing. I will continue to support and fight for expansion of the LFUCG Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

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?

Currently, as part of the Sustainable Growth Study, a workgroup (goal 4 workgroup) is meeting to develop recommendations to the Planning Commission and Council regarding the process for determining long-term land use decisions involving the USB and infill/redevelopment. I believe the Council must consider these recommendations, along with other data available in the study, to come up with the best possible infill and growth strategies for our city. Recently, I supported funding city development subsidies to incentivize infill and redevelopment projects and make development downtown more affordable.

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.

Yes, I believe it is time to strategically and intentionally expand the Urban Service Boundary; Housing affordability, not just affordable housing as defined by HUD, as well as ready, affordable economic development land is not sufficient with the current available land as proven by market trends. I look forward to the Goal 4 workgroup recommendations.

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 served on Councilmember James Brown’s Neighborhoods in Transition Taskforce and I believe we should implement all recommendations made by the taskforce to prevent gentrification in Lexington. Market trends drive development, but government policy can prevent displacement of people and culture in neighborhoods. I will continue to support our Affordable Housing Trust Fund and development-subsidy investments to incentivize construction of affordable housing.

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?

Lexington’s pillars include tourism/hospitality, education, professional services (legal, medical, financial) industrial/factory and agricultural industries. We must work closely with our Economic Development Partner Agencies to identify the best land for jobs, and assist them in creating opportunities for recruitment and retention in our local job market. We also have to consider the workforce available in these industries. I will continue to support small business development and workforce development programs on council, such as the small business grant program I proposed and helped create. I encourage economic development investments like the infrastructure buildout I supported using federal AROA funds at Coldstream to make land more suitable for business.

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?

As Councilmember, I will continue to support the PDR program and others that expand our agriculture business and tourism industries.

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 believe we should continue to listen to public feedback regarding capital improvement projects. That said, projects that I have always advocated for on council have been in support of parks and recreational infrastructure and services for our neighborhoods, pedestrian improvements such as sidewalks and trails, and community safety improvements. I feel these are top priorities for our city.

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 have always been a champion for bike and pedestrian improvements. My district has seen many new sidewalks and trails because I have consistently advocated to fund those types of infrastructure investments. In addition to making Lexington more walk-able and pedestrian friendly, and connecting our suburbs to downtown for pedestrians, I believe we also need to encourage expansion of our public transit, particularly into suburban areas. Currently, some of our suburban areas are not serviced by regular routes. If residents who live further out have the opportunity to use public transportation, they will have less need to drive, decreasing the amount of cars on the road.