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Hannah LeGris- 2020 Primary 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?

The most important issue in our district is the same one affecting the entire nation. We will need to overcome a huge economic crisis and budgetary shortfall. Much of our work must focus on maintaining essential operations, but it is imperative we protect the investments and gains already made toward creating a more vibrant and sustainable city. That means being responsible stewards of our available resources, people-centric policies, and mindfully investing for the needs of everyone.

What is your plan to address this issue?

This is an incredibly challenging time for our city, with no easy answers. It’s critical to support our residents, maintain the necessary functions of government, and avail ourselves of every resource to minimize the impacts from COVID-19. The city’s finances are constrained by the state constitution but there are opportunities to create new taxable districts or user fees that may alleviate some of the city’s burden. I will help plan responsibly to ensure that any expenses are shared equitably.

2. 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 the onset of COVID-19, illustrating the importance of predictive tax models and forecasts. We must continue to advocate for change in Frankfort but currently there are only a few options to address the shortages: raising taxes and cutting expenses. It is imperative to maintain our city’s financial health while considering the costs of our decisions. I support participatory budgeting to ensure that people have an increased say in how we allocate funds.

3. 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, bringing residents into the conversation for sustainable infill practices. The Comprehensive Plan is a well-researched document, but without broad participation and careful implementation it can result in short-sighted practices. I want to promote development without displacement and if elected I will advocate for inclusion, liveability, and sustainability by emphasizing responsible growth.

4. 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 like creating an 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.

5. 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 often first affected within our economy and service network; they need all the support we can give. Whether by encouraging local shopping, leveraging new regional partnerships, or looking for points of connection in existing relationships, I support strategic investment and easing restrictions for local businesses. I will help create policies that direct people toward local organizations, spotlight nonprofits, and advocate for national service volunteers like AmeriCorps.

6. Over half of the city budget’s General Fund is allocated to public safety, yet those needs are different in each district. How will you address the specific public safety needs of your district while ensuring that those services are responsive to and effective for the community as a whole?

Issues like crime, fires, and community health don’t always stop at district lines, which is why it’s important to create policies that address the root causes of public safety concerns. Minority groups continue to have more challenging relationships with public safety services than their white counterparts. If elected I will continue the important work of connecting people with first responders, building trust, and providing equitable resources and support to ensure the safety of our residents.

7. 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. During this period we must include public health and economic stability. However to meet the challenges of our society we must address pervasive concerns like affordable housing, healthy food access, recycling and environmental health, and workforce development. If elected I will build partnerships and work within our means to confront these larger issues and advocate for a higher quality of life for all.

8. 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?

Our top economic priority must be assisting the survival and recovery of existing local businesses. Any federal relief funds we receive should be directed accordingly. We should keep existing projects like the Civic Center on track and refocus our efforts to bring new business to the city. I support strengthening relationships with large employers like UK while working with the legislative delegation to increase options for revenue generation, job creation, and continued growth in the Bluegrass.

9. In light of the COVID-19 crisis and new voting regulations, what can you do as a council member to improve voting access, education, and security?

Having an informed and active voter base is essential to democracy. I support increased collaboration with state election officials to share information and promote voting access. In this election and beyond I will continue promoting civic participation among young people and working to improve voting access for constituents. We have a responsibility to advocate for systems that facilitate participation, provide quality candidate information, and increase the resiliency of our election system.

10. The agricultural sector has a $2.3B economic impact on Fayette County,
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 large 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 direct connections between producers and consumers.

11. 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 strategy and promoting smart mass transportation over unlimited private traffic. An updated transportation plan could increase liveability by reducing traffic in residential areas, generate options for alternative transit, and require bike/ped infrastructure. We should consider limiting new development in high-traffic areas, creating commuter routes, and promoting rideshare programs.

12. Meaningful public participation is vital to a responsive local government. What are three innovative approaches that you would advocate for to make government processes more accessible, equitable, and transparent?

Running for council has been a privilege and has shown me the challenges many feel trying to be engaged. We can learn from the current moment about gaps in our communication, using technology to better connect with each other. We must share information proactively and seek input, working to connect people with systems of power. And we can always educate one another about civic literacy and the value of participation. If elected I will work to improve the lives of those in the district and beyond.