Preston Worley- 2018 Candidate Questionnaire
Running for: Urban County Council- District 7
Preston and his wife, Langdon, are life-long Kentuckians and proud residents of the 7th District.
Since graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 2010, Preston has worked as an attorney at McBrayer Law Firm, where he has a diverse practice including affordable housing.
He is a member of the Kentucky Children’s Hospital Executive Development Council, the Golden Matrix Fund Advisory Council, the Ellerslie at Delong Homeowners Association Board of Directors, and Coaches for Kids Inc., among other organizations.
On December 20, 2017, Preston was appointed by Mayor Jim Gray to serve as Councilmember for the 7th District.
1. Do you support prioritizing infill/redevelopment as Lexington’s primary growth strategy? Under what circumstances would you support expansion of the Urban Services Boundary or Rural Activity Centers?
Yes. We must protect and preserve our farmland while creatively addressing the housing needs of our rapidly growing population. In my opinion, Lexington is the most unique City in the country because of our rural landscape and surroundings, particularly our signature horse farms. Accordingly, conservation of farmland is key to our future planning and development. At the same time we have to acknowledge that our city’s needs will eventually outgrow our boundary despite our best efforts at infill. I would only support expansion of the Urban Services Boundary when that day is upon us, as conservatively as possible, and using deliberately planned out processes and criteria for how, when, where, and why we expand.
2. What specific recommendations do you have to protect the character and context of existing neighborhoods while diversifying our housing stock to meet the needs of our community?
Infill and density can cause collateral damage if we are not very deliberate in how we develop inside the boundary. We have to first take a hard look at where we have the infrastructure to develop and how we can improve that infrastructure where lacking. Particularly, we have to continue working to improve our sewer capacity to accommodate more development. Additionally, we have to remember our neighborhoods in transition—those that are being redeveloped and those that see development encroaching on them. As Councilmember, I have deliberately analyzed each and every zone change that has come before the Council, consulting with both developers and neighbors to reach a compromise that meets the city’s housing needs while preserving the character of surrounding neighborhoods. I believe that every time we consider changing our land uses we must judge the merits of each proposal, individually looking to protect the interests of the neighborhoods most closely impacted. We should encourage developers and city planners to work with those neighborhoods to make new infill development complement the surrounding area.
3. What specific recommendations do you have to address Lexington’s affordable housing issue?
Affordable housing is a passion of mine. My private law practice focuses on the financing and development of affordable housing and as Councilmember I have championed and supported the funding of offices and programs to address homelessness prevention, affordable housing development, and neighborhoods in transition.
I will continue to support and fight for expansion of the LFUCG Affordable Housing Trust Fund, a $2 million dollar annual fund that has been leveraged to assist in approximately $100 million dollars in affordable housing development over its short existence. Through that fund, Lexington, along with private developers and state agencies, has participated in the construction and/or rehabilitation of hundreds of housing units for low to moderate income families. I have proposed a larger investment in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and will continue to fight for it. Additionally, I will propose the full staffing of an Office of Affordable Housing to allow for the expansion of investment and support for affordable development in our city.
4. The number of households headed by someone aged 65 or older is projected to increase significantly over the next decade and beyond. What specific recommendations do you have to meet the needs of our growing senior population?
As Councilmember, I have supported funding for aging services and I am committed to continuing to do so. In recent years Lexington has invested in a new fully staffed, fully programmed Senior Center and senior programs throughout other community centers in the City. We need to expand these services and promote them so that our aging neighbors, and their families, know what services are available to them. Additionally, we need to look at ways to educate citizens about where to find funding and assistance to obtain aging in place measures such as accessibility improvements to their homes, access to home healthcare, meal assistance, and transportation. It is important to most seniors to be able to stay in their homes and live as independently as possible. As a City, we need to do all we can to help.
5. Do you support an annual funding allocation for Lexington’s Purchase of Development Rights Program (PDR)? Please list your specific ideas to support the continued strength and growth of our agricultural and tourism industries.
Yes. Lexington’s PDR Program has been very successful and has proven to be a national model. This year, additional funds were not a part of the budget because the funds from previous years were not yet allocated as a result of delays in closings caused, in part, by the federal review process. In addition to funding the program, we need to find ways to assist landowners in dealing with the federal government review so that we can get these purchases completed. It is vital that we protect and promote our farm land. As Councilmember, I will continue to support this program and others that expand our agriculture business and tourism industries.
6. Citizens have noted frustration with traffic congestion. What are your specific ideas to address traffic congestion?
Lexington is currently undertaking several street widening projects to add additional lanes and turn lanes on some of our busier roads. Because of the unique design of our road system, we do not have much room to add new streets or change our current streets and roads pattern. Accordingly, traffic management is an ongoing project year after year as we continue to grow. As Councilmember, I have supported funding for road improvements and will continue to do so. As we can afford it, we need to be creative, make innovated improvements, and constantly update our streets and roads to make what we have work better for us all. Additionally, we need to improve our pedestrian infrastructure. The more connected and walkable we make our city, the less cars will be on the street. I have pushed forward large sidewalk projects while on Council and will be committed to additional pedestrian safety improvements. Finally, we 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.
7. The 2018 Comprehensive Plan for Lexington includes a goal to create “a new process for determining long-term land use decisions” involving the Urban Services Boundary and Rural Activity Centers. If you support the creation of this new process, what are some of the elements that should be included?
Any such new process must be thoroughly analyzed and diligently considered with the help of all stakeholders throughout the county. Conservation of farmland must always be a priority and the key element in our future planning and development. After analyzing how, when, where, and why we might expand, if we do at all, the next element to consider should be our housing needs in relation to appropriate transitions in zoning types and uses. We should always attempt to development complementary housing near existing neighborhoods and avoid dense or intense development near our agricultural land.
8. What is the biggest challenge facing your district? What are your specific recommendations to address that challenge?
The 7th District is a unique and diverse district with challenges unique to its various neighborhoods. Public safety is the biggest and most important challenge facing all of our city, the 7th District included. Our city, like many, is facing opioid overdoses, property crime, and, sadly, gun violence. As Councilmember, I supported an approximate $80 million infusion into our police budget to combat crime and addiction in our city. I propose that we continue to expand our police force with the addition of more patrol officers and the establishment of a new patrol sector to allow for more police presence throughout Lexington. Additionally, we need to continue to support and fully fund our fire and emergency medical services. As Councilmember, I supported the establishment of a new fire station and the addition of new fire fighters this past year. I am committed, first and foremost, to fully fund, expand, and improve our public safety departments in Lexington.