Hannah LeGris- 2020 General Questionnaire
Running for: 3rd District Council
Campaign Website: https://www.hannahforcouncil.com/
1. What do you see as the single most important issue facing your district, and what is your plan to address it?
In the coming year we have to overcome an economic crisis and budgetary shortfall. As we work to maintain essential operations, I want the city to make strategic investments that keep people employed, healthy, and safe. This means being responsible stewards of our available resources, fulfilling our existing obligations and project commitments, focusing our policies to be more people-centric, and equitably investing for the needs of everyone to create a more fair and sustainable community.
Mayor Gorton and the council have worked hard to devote resources for housing insecure residents in this year’s budget. The next step should be to allocate money supporting local businesses and their employees. If elected, I will work to direct state and federal dollars to a local business fund to provide more options for those at-risk. It is critical that we help residents stay employed and stable for individual well-being and also to benefit the city’s economic foundation and tax base.
2. Given your understanding of Lexington’s long and complicated history around racial injustices, what do you plan to do to directly address inequality and its root causes in our city?
We can take meaningful steps to reduce structural racism in several ways including:
Create sunshine policies within LFUCG for transparency to ensure that all residents are treated fairly, regardless of ethnicity or orientation
Community-led review groups for local government agencies
Expand partnerships with organizations like the Urban League, KCTC, & Workforce Development to provide education, job training, and affordable housing to assist those who have suffered from discrimination
3. In recent years Lexington’s budget obligations have outpaced its ability to generate revenue. In the FY 20/21 budget, this has dramatically impacted everything from economic development to social services. What strategies do you recommend to address revenue shortages while balancing spending priorities?
There was already a budget shortfall before COVID-19, illustrating the importance of careful tax forecasts. At present, we can create new tax districts and consider a small single-time user fee. I also support participatory budgeting so residents have an increased say in how the LFUCG allocates funds and ensure that costs are distributed equitably. In the future, we should continue to advocate through the legislative delegation for changes in Frankfort to explore future revenue options.
4. Lexington’s 2018 Comprehensive Plan encourages infill and redevelopment as Lexington’s main growth strategy. What specific implementation aspects of the Comprehensive Plan are working and what challenges need to be addressed?
I support redevelopment plans that recognize the character and diversity of neighborhoods, but effective planning cannot function without effective enforcement and implementation. In order to meet the goals of the Comprehensive Plan we need to change our zoning and code enforcement processes to make them consistent and dependable. As councilmember I want to encourage broad community participation so that we can promote infill, sustainable growth, and liveability throughout the district and city.
5. Lexington faces challenges across districts with regard to housing affordability, diversity and accessibility. What is the City’s role in addressing affordable housing and how would you recommend prioritizing policy change to address these challenges?
The city has already taken important steps by creating the Affordable Housing Plan and Trust. If elected I will work to create more diversified, mixed-income, and evolving format housing to serve the growing community need. LFUCG should continue to look for grants, public/private partnerships, and federal subsidies to incentivize affordable housing initiatives. Safe housing is a human right and it is critical to address this issue intelligently and inclusively now to minimize future costs.
6. The impact of COVID-19 on local businesses and non-profits will be significant and long lasting. What will you do as a council member to support their recovery and foster their resilience?
Local organizations are the first affected within our economy and service network; they need all the support we can give. Whether by creating a local business fund, leveraging new regional partnerships, or fully funding nonprofits within LFUCG, I support strategic investment and minimizing burdens for local organizations. If elected, I will create policies that promote nonprofits, recommend national service volunteers to build capacity, and direct resources toward local organizations.
7. In recent months, much of our country’s attention has been directed to issues of systemic racism, specifically as it applies to policing and the justice system. What measures would you support to ensure that Lexington’s policing and justice system is equitable?
As councilmember I want to create policies to eliminate the racial disparity in policing, prioritize early interventions and wrap-around services, and hold those who abuse the public trust to account. I will work with public safety and community partners to address homelessness, addiction, and mental health through shared services rather than first responders. I support increasing transparency and community input for policing so that we can rebuild trust, protect people, and keep Lexington safe.
8. Revenue shortfalls have made it difficult for the city to continue supporting external social resource agencies at a time when they are needed most. What specific city-level policies do you support to ensure that every resident has access to a basic quality of life?
City government has always focused on public safety, streets and roads, and trash pickup. However because of growing disparities in health, wealth, and safety within our city, I believe we need to make strategic investments in affordable housing, local agriculture, recycling and environmental health, and workforce development. While we can’t fund all of these programs, we can use data-based policies that will ultimately reduce our costs over time, and protect our most vulnerable residents.
9. Lexington’s tax revenue base is dependent on a thriving and sustainable local economy. What are your top three priorities for helping the city promote and support economic development?
Since the shutdown, LFUCG has worked hard to keep the Affordable Housing Fund solvent and provide financial resources for the housing insecure. The next step should be allocating funds to help local businesses and their employees. If elected, I will work to direct state and federal dollars to a local business fund, giving more options for those at-risk. It is also important to maintain basic services like streets, sidewalks, and trash collection so businesses can continue to accommodate clients.
10. LFUCG Council will soon have the responsibility of council redistricting. What is your approach to including public participation in the redistricting process?
I believe public servants have a responsibility to advocate for rules that facilitate participation, provide quality information, and increase the resiliency of our civic system. Since day 1, my campaign has worked to educate and empower people both young and old regarding the civic process. An informed and active voter base is essential to democracy and I support collaborating with state election officials to share information and promote participation and voting access.
11. The agricultural sector has a $2.3B economic impact on FayetteCounty, accounting for over $8.5M of the city’s payroll revenue. It is poised to grow with the support of Mayor Gorton’s Administration for making Fayette County a center for ag-tech. As a councilmember, what are your priorities for the agriculture and food system economy?
Local agriculture is critical to making our community healthier, minimizing our environmental impact, bolstering our economy, and increasing our resilience to supply chain disruptions. We’ve already seen substantial economic gains due to the local food coordinator position. I will continue to support accommodations for local producers and farmers markets, increase participation and education around food systems and the environment, and promote more connections between producers and consumers.
12. Well-planned infrastructure strengthens communities, boosts local economies, expands opportunity, and promotes equitable development. What policies would you support to achieve a more accessible, efficient, and sustainable transportation system in Lexington and the Bluegrass region?
I believe public transit should be a convenience, not a compromise, but that requires re-evaluating our current system and promoting smart mass transportation. I want to update our transportation plan to build bike/ped infrastructure, reduce traffic in residential areas, generate options for alternative transit, and increase liveability. We should also consider limiting new development in high-traffic areas, creating commuter routes, and promoting rideshare programs.
13. Lexington has temporarily suspended public comment in all public Zoom meetings. Meaningful public participation is vital to a responsive local government, and COVID-19 has created a new set of challenges in that regard. What strategies would you support to make ongoing public participation accessible for all?
COVID-19 has exacerbated the disparities within our community and as leaders, we need to engage residents and incorporate their feedback. We should use technology to gather widespread community input, update council protocol to screen and accept comments from those who can’t attend, and solicit more participation throughout the council cycle. In my campaign and my service on the board of Civic Lex I have worked to promote civic engagement and if elected I will continue that work at city hall.