Todd Hamill- 2018 Primary Candidate Questionnaire
Running for: Urban County Council At-Large
1. What is the biggest challenge and opportunity facing the city of Lexington and your district (if applicable)?
There are numerous challenges that bubble to the top. Public Safety, the Pension issue, and an aging population come to my mind.. But, the coordinated planning and management of the population growth is the very foundation of the council. As we look at land use, whether agricultural, protection, initial development, or re-development, the competing interests must be weighed in with the perspective of land as a finite resource. Population Growth and demographic changes are inevitable so we must not make planning decisions on the micro level. From an administrative perspective, LFUCG should always assure a balance between the net present benefit and the long term costs. This is the greatest opportunity we also have in the City. Density is a daunting thought when you value the peace of a rural landscape. We should welcome the challenge and work together to plan livable spaces that allow the individual character of the communities to shine. By creating opportunities for a life/work balance in each area of the city, we can allow the citizens to take pride in the individual community identity, and that begins to attack the crime, economic prosperity, and population health at a root level through empowering the residents to engage locally.
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.
I believe the City’s current planning team does a very good job at looking at various funding sources. I firmly believe that if we want infill to be a priority, we must balance the funding with the protection of the rural resources. One of the biggest items I would like to see is a coordinated effort to define processes related to any time the ground is opened up, that a coordinated effort is quickly exercised to place empty conduits for future expansion prior to closing it back up. By having a plan that the private companies support, as well as the process within the governmental administrative structure, we can limit the construction within a neighborhood. There are technical and electrical needs that may be unforeseen, and by investing in the infrastructure up front, then the city can recoup costs through right-of-way agreements. Long term costs will be reduced, and speed to market would be improved. As far as the funding sources specifically, the coordination of federal and state funds, grants, TIF, and other public-private partnerships can be evaluated for both long term and project level use. To continue my earlier answer, allowing communities to have input into the long-term vision of their neighborhood will increase the local support. At the same time, the macro-level requirements must also be discussed allowing consensus to determine outcome.
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?
It is important to differentiate between economic development to create money in the community as opposed to the movement of money in the community. The American economy is going through a significant transformation from manufacturing to services. In Lexington, we can capitalize on these transitions by focusing on our current economic creation markets which are tourism, agriculture, and medical research. The economic base we currently maintain will form the next wave of foundational industries through agricultural technology and research, organic technological innovations, and outstanding health/education institutions. These areas have global value, and we should seek opportunities to aggressively pursue becoming a market leader. It is important to point out that the City’s role should be to assist the intermediary organizations that do the recruiting. We must make sure that organizations are not duplicating efforts.
In the realm of our service based economy, there are social changes that are fundamentally counterproductive to encouraging entrepreneurs to invest in service industries. The new workforce is mobile, project-oriented, and less inclined to work a traditional position. Technology is not only a disrupter, but can also be the grounds for innovation when creating solutions to healthcare, retirement, and other benefit challenges for this new workforce. As a governmental leader, the insight to the adoption of technology and its implications, allows me to identify areas that intermediary organizations can focus on for personal, policy, and economic development.
4. Why are you the best candidate for the position you seek?
I am not entering this race due to dissatisfaction with the current administration or planning. I feel that we are making a generational change in the workforce, the retirement community, and the general population demographics. These changes mean that what worked in the past, may not provide the same results in the future. I have 25 years of business experience in the IT industry and understand what technological disruption does organizationally and socially. Our leaders must understand this fundamental fact as well. In addition to my business knowledge, I have led one of the largest recreational basketball leagues (and other youth programs) in Lexington for over 15 years. My professional career has provided me to work with public safety organizations across the Commonwealth, including here in Lexington. These life experiences have prepared me to offer a unique perspective to the LFUCG Council decision process. I can see perspectives that allow understanding of concerns from all of our citizens.
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?
Lexington is going to have to make plans for additional senior centers in the future. Transportation is the largest issue in getting seniors out in general, and by diversifying locations, the impact of those challenges can be reduced. We are entering unknown territory with our senior population as well. Throughout the history of humankind, we have had situations where extended families were instrumental in the child-rearing, but we must be especially aware that the difference in grandparents raising children now is that it is happening in a technological transformation. While these changes impact everyone, our seniors may not have the frame of reference to guide children in this uncharted territory. This technological upheaval also creates frustration in many senior citizen’s daily routine. We must be attuned to that and find creative ways for the community to educate and support these new demands. As an administrative body, LFUCG cannot fulfill all those requirements. The council can coordinate the discussion with health care providers, educators, and social workers to allow the community to develop programs where it makes sense to connect to the population.
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?
As the Horse Capital of the world centered in the Bluegrass State, Lexington deserves to cherish the rich landscape. The rural landscape is not only the crown jewel of our tourism industry, but also the factory floor of our agricultural industry. I do support public initiatives to maintain that beauty, as well as counter-balance with removing obstructions to redevelopment and infill within the Urban Services Boundary. We should also be marketing ourselves to global agricultural technology companies. Our educated workforce, the prime research facilities, and the agricultural landscape could allow an ideal synergy for these innovative industries. Lexington should be the global hub for Agricultural innovation. These industries are not going away as the global community looks for increased food production, environmental hardiness, and renewable resources to fulfill the demands of a growing population. Alltech has laid a successful blueprint, and we should make AgTech our coordinated mission. Finding ways to develop economic growth by preserving our resources becomes a winning combination for all of our citizens. The time for this type of development is now. We can start with the marketization of hemp products and removing barriers to the development of that industry.