Whitney Baxter – 2020 Primary Questionnaire
Running for: 9th District Council
Campaign Website: https://www.whitneyforcouncil.com/
1. What do you see as the single most important issue facing your district?
Traffic in the 9th District is a huge concern of mine, especially regarding the areas around our schools. In my opinion, the most critical areas are Clays Mill Road at Jessie Clark Middle School, Wellington Way at Wellington Elementary, and Nicholasville Road between the Jessamine County line and New Circle Road.
What is your plan to address this issue?
I will give my voice to support of polices that would modify land development ordinances and zoning ordinances that would To address our students’ safety, I would propose new crosswalks and signals be installed in the school zones of Jessie Clark Middle School and Wellington Elementary School. Specifically, I would recommend the installation of notification signals similar to those around Rosa Parks Elementary. Additionally, I will continue to support and be very passionate about the Imagine Nicholasville Road project. This is valuable resource to gather input from a multitude of sources.
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?
The first thing we must do is take a hard look at what financial obligations we must fund as areas of actual need versus what we would like to do as a city. We must cut extraneous expenses and we must make common sense choices on where our money should be spent.
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 think Imagine Lexington and On The Table hosting highly attended events show the citizens of Lexington want their voice to be heard. Continuing to promote community involvement is important. However, we must hold developers accountable to take care of the precious acres we have committed to infill and redevelopment. We cannot afford to have projects started and not completed.
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?
As affordable housing and shortages continue to plague our city, we must consider many different types of housing options for our community. We should consider all zoning options for specific housing proposals and continue to offer incentives to builders and developers who offer housing to citizens of varying levels of income.
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?
As council members and as members of this community, it is our responsibility to step up and support our neighbors. I would encourage the citizens of Lexington to pledge to shop local during this time and I will support the non-profit donation matching programs proposed in our budget if they prove fiscally responsible.
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?
The 9th District has a specific issue with car and home break-ins. We have a responsibility to be vigilant and protect ourselves as much as possible. We need to encourage neighborhood watch efforts and promote resident education on what steps we can take to protect ourselves. Education seminars and neighborhood forums are a great way to gather residents and local officials to discuss these topics and open the lines of communication. Together we can make Lexington a safer community.
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?
Every human deserves the right to food, shelter, and public safety. Even though the proposed budget for ESRs has been depleted, I feel we really need to concentrate on what we can still provide regarding homelessness, affordable housing, and food security. Our budget will not change as far as public safety is concerned and that we can be thankful for.
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?
1. We must open our economy for business. 2. We must address affordable housing and housing shortages. 3. We must continue to promote Lexington as the tourism hub of 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?
Ensuring our residents are educated on the deadlines and processes of our new voting methods is priority. We will have to address security of any new voting process, but I think if we educate our community effectively on any change we encounter, we will see a successful outcome. This could pave the way for extended absentee or alternative voting measures, which may lend itself to increased voter turnout in the future. We cannot forget the privilege and importance of the vote.
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?
I am happy to see such support from the Mayor’s administration and think we should continue to encourage conversations between local farmers, restaurant owners, and city officials. We have all the resources we need to be an industry leader, we just need to streamline processes and build resilient programs to continue on the path to being the center for ag-tech. Continuing to support Farms to Food Banks, Farmers Markets, & Kentucky Proud will only further our position in the agricultural sector.
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 would like to see an increased use of public transit and a decreased stigma of using public transportation. I think we should address transit routes to make them more efficient and consider a Bus Rapid Transit option. Transportation Oriented Developments should be something we consider moving forward in our Comprehensive Plan. If we can design more efficient roadways in conjunction with less overall traffic due to number of vehicles on the road, we will see a definite change in our city.
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?
Transparency and education are the main reasons I ran for office. I would schedule routine community education forums between local officials and residents where issues can be discussed and understood. I would also like to make our government more friendly by modifying our website and establishing a central info hub for those who are interested in getting involved with the local government or neighborhood.