Jennifer Reynolds- 2020 General Election Questionnaire
Running for: 11th District Council
Campaign Website: https://reynoldsfor11th.com/
1. What do you see as the single most important issue facing your district, and what is your plan to address it?
While there are various challenges that I could mention, and I see them all as important, I believe the most critical issue is the drug epidemic. It affects the health, crime, and safety of the district, just to name a few things. It is a very complex issue that can not be easily tackled, still it touches most residents one way or another.
This is a very large issue that faces the city, state, and nation. On a local level I am trying to work with the Mayor’s office on how specific populations in the 11th can have access to recovery and the resources they need. I have worked closely with Police to address narcotics problems in the 11th. I would like to expand the paramedicine program to address mental health and substance abuse disorder because access to healthcare and resources are lacking.
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?
Now is the time to adress injustices! I’ve already been working with a few other CMs to put several items in the Planning and Public Safety Committee that look at city and Police policy around equity and racial justice. I have made suggestions for the local CBA negotiations. I plan to consider recommendations coming out of the Mayor’s Commissions for Racial Justice and Equity. I have been asking lots of questions and want to come up with policies that leads to real change for people of color!
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?
I think in particular 2020 has presented itself with more budgetary challenges than normal since as a city we lost so much of our payroll revenue. Moving forward we need to be focused on what the city values as priorities for the budget. For our residents that is a wide variety of things. Ideally, our budget would keep the same level of quality of life for our residents. We are going to have to look at some cuts, and eventually, I do think we need to consider additional sources of revenue.
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?
The Comprehesive Plan has positively,been able to set up specific guidelines for redevelopment and growth that support Lexington’s growth strategy. It can be complex and confusing to the public at times. I appreciate the components that require public notice and input. That being said, it seems that some residents still feel uninformed about changes presented. In the end if we do not follow the plan for infill we will be forced to reevaluate the decision not to expand the Urban Service Boundary.
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?
Our growth strategy must prioritize the accesibilty of affordable housing and our budget contintue to put dollars towards affordable housing fund. Additionally, we need to encourage and incentivize developers to construct more affordable housing units so the compensation is worth their investment in a high demand market. I am interested in what other cities are doing and more policies that encourage additional affordable housing units.
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?
As part of Council we passed a stimulus for local businesses and non-profits. We also put back the ESR funding in the budget for this year. I also helped allowing restaurants to expand their seating due to Covid restrictions. I want to do whatever I can to support businesses and non-profits and if there is more funding available, I will support giving more stimulus to them. I would also support trying to keep funding for them in future budgets and helping any way I can.
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?
I mentioned already that I helped put quite a few items in the Planning and Public Safety to review including body worn camera and off duty officer policies as well as made recommendations for the CBA. I am in support of making policy changes that reflect equity for all and hope that our conversations over the next few months about racial equality and Police policy will lead to change and more transparency in the LPD and local government.
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?
I think Lexington has a very high quality of life. Still there is always a debate about what the government’s role is in supporting external resources. I am a big believer in the important role of social agencies and non-profits and that they compliment and support the city and fill in gaps in services. I support the ESR program and want to find a way to maintain it even if there are shortfalls.
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?
1) Continuing to be a city that attracts talent and business to Lexington. That means maintaining a high quality of life.
2) Make the city a better place for everyone by improving the infrastructure with complete streets type policies to be more pedestrian, bicycle, and public transportation friendly which in part makes accessing local businesses easier.
3) Working with our economic development Program to partner with companies adding jobs to Lexington.
10. LFUCG Council will soon have the responsibility of council redistricting. What is your approach to including public participation in the redistricting process?
This will be my first round of redistricting. I think it will be based on numbers from the Census. I am not opposed to public participation if that is something that is desired.
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?
I agree that they are vital to our economy and as CM I will try to balance maintaining them as a priority along with smart growth. Our food system is crucial and supporting these industries is what helps make Lexington unique and thriving. I want the city to continue being a good partner with the agriculture industry as it has been for many years.
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?
A good public transportation is key to a thriving city. In my experience Lextran has done a good job with what they have. I would like to see it grow and be more accessible to everyone in the city with more routes and quicker routes. I think a complete street policy would help foster more connectivity. I’ve been working with Lextran and plan to work with them more on improving transportation in my district. I also serve on the area MPO where I work for improved transportation in Central KY.
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?
I think public comment is vital for us as Councilmembers because we are elected to support the interests of the people. That being said, we have had horrible Zoom meetings due to trolls. Currently, the best way to contact us is through phone calls or email. I’m in support of doing hybrid meetings or an in person meetings, following CDC guidelines, so that we can have in person comments in a socially distanced way in the Government Center. I believe it is the best option all considered.