Steve Kay- 2018 Primary Candidate Questionnaire
Running for: Urban County Council At-Large
Candidate Website: https://www.stevekayforlex.com/
1. What is the biggest challenge and opportunity facing the city of Lexington and your district (if applicable)?
Most people living in Lexington value the quality of life we enjoy. We speak of Lexington as providing a wide range of opportunities while retaining the feel of a small town. And we speak of the balance between urban amenities and a productive rural landscape. The overriding challenge for the foreseeable future for Lexington is preserving that quality of life while accommodating the growth we are experiencing. We have come to a point where we must make hard choices and hard decisions that do not sacrifice the long-term well-being of our community for perceived short-term imperatives.
2. The newly adopted Goals and Objectives of the 2018 Comprehensive Plan prioritize infill/redevelopment as a primary strategy to accommodate our growth needs. In fact, studies indicate there are many infill/redevelopment opportunities throughout the city. What specific recommendations do you have to protect the character and context of existing neighborhoods while pursuing this needed strategy? Would you support a program that provides incentives for infill/redevelopment projects within the Urban Services Area? If so, what specific types of incentives.
There are some strategies that are broadly applicable in service of appropriate infill and redevelopment. These include reducing parking requirements, coupling development with available or projected mass transit, favoring increased density, promoting mixed-use development. But our overall strategy needs to be fine-grained attention to the opportunities and challenges presented by the varying conditions existing within the differing locales within our community. I would support incentives that are place-based and tailored to be responsive to these varying conditions, rather than any that are one-size-fits-all.
3. Land use planning and economic development go hand-in-hand. What are the main economic pillars in Lexington and what specific planning policies support their growth? What specific policies do you support to ensure we create 21st jobs that maximize our unique assets?
Fayette County has a diverse economy that is anchored by the University of Kentucky, agriculture, manufacturing, and services. Urban County Government presently has a variety of programs that support economic development. Within LFUCG these include Industrial Revenue Bonds, Lexington Jobs Fund, and Workforce Development Grants. We partner with the state on the Kentucky Business Investment Program, and Tax Increment Financing. We also provide full funding for CommerceLexington’s efforts at business recruitment. While all these efforts have value, we need to do more to prioritize and coordinate these efforts with a focus on sustainable development based on existing assets. A key portion of the recently completed Goals and Objectives for the Comprehensive Plan update envisions a comprehensive analysis of all rural land, and a corresponding analysis of the best approaches to continued emphasis on infill and redevelopment. I support this effort, and look forward to the development of policies for land use that ensure continued economic development.
4. Why are you the best candidate for the position you seek?
I have had a long and successful career in the private sector as a consultant and facilitator providing advice, support, and assistance to many non-profit organizations, governmental agencies, private businesses, and multi-stakeholder groups working on difficult issues in our community. Since being elected to council in 2010 I have been effective in moving forward a number of major initiatives that have benefited our community, such as creation of the Office of Affordable Housing, theOffice of Homeless Prevention and Intervention, and the position of Local Food Coordinator in the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development. As Vice Mayor since 2014 I have provided fair and steady leadership for the council. I work well with my colleagues on council and with the administration. I have a clear vision for the best ways to maintain the excellent quality of life we enjoy and the best ways to build on those assets as we move to becoming one of the world’s great cities.
5. Like the rest of the nation, Lexington’s population is aging. In the next decade and beyond, a majority of households will be headed by someone 65 or older for the first time in our history. Our aging demographic has significant implications for housing and neighborhood design. What specific recommendations do you have to ensure we provide safe, accessible, affordable housing to our seniors in ways that ensure they maintain independence and social connections as they age?
The city’s new Senior Center is a highly utilized facility that contributes to the mental and physical health of our senior citizens. Our Affordable Housing Fund will continue to be a major player in ensuring that existing affordable housing units for seniors remain affordable and new units are built. The Infill and Redevelopment subcommittee on Equitable Development includes a focus on mitigating the potential for infill development to displace long-term residents, many of whom are elderly. We need to focus more on strategies aimed at aging-in-place, and the creation of more robust support systems for the elderly. In addition, I support reviewing our existing zoning regulations for possible ways to allow increased densities that will make smaller and auxiliary housing units for the elderly possible.
6. Fayette County agriculture is an annual $2.3 billion industry that supports one in twelve jobs in Lexington. Fayette County farmland is the factory-floor of this industry, which also anchors a burgeoning travel and tourism industry. To ensure continued viability of our agricultural industries, do you support an annual funding allocation to the Purchase of Development Rights Program? Why or why not. What other specific policies do you support to ensure the continued strength and growth of our agriculture industries?
I support annual funding for PDR. I have supported the PDR program since its inception and will continue supporting it. In my professional capacity I had the privilege of serving as facilitator for the informal multi-stakeholder group whose lengthy deliberations led to adoption of both the Rural Services Area and the PDR program. As a result, I am familiar with the background information and rationale that led to the wise decision to invest in protecting our valuable farm land. The program has been a success and should be continued. In addition, to strengthen the local food economy, I led efforts to establish the position of Local Food Coordinator in the Mayor’s Office for Economic Development.