Next Louisville: The Democratic Primary Part Two

by Gabe Bullard on May 12, 2010

by Gabe Bullard

The bi-state authority that will oversee the Ohio River Bridges Project met last week. Tyler Allen was in the audience. He usually is. In 2005, after years of involvement in community and government activities, Allen co-founded the group 8664 to oppose the plan to build two bridges over the Ohio River and rework Spaghetti Junction. He supports an East End Bridge, but wants to reconfigure Interstate 64, turning its waterfront lanes into a parkway.

In the primary, he’s sometimes criticized for being a single issue candidate. Allen rejects that claim, but says the bridges project is a critical issue that will affect the city for decades.

“I’m speaking in lost opportunity for this city,” says Allen. “I’m speaking of a backward vision that will impede development for years to come in our community. It is not a future-facing vision for the city at all.”

Allen recently unveiled his first television ad, which mentions the possibility of tolls on bridges and positions him to benefit from anti-toll sentiment. A recent Bluegrass Poll put Allen in 4th place in the primary, but he says he’d have stronger support if there was more focus on platforms instead of politics.

“I’m just simply saying as a citizen, we need a whole lot more coverage of the issues themselves—not the dynamics of the race,” he says. “We’re talking here about the dynamics of the race. That loses sight of the issues that are at stake.”

“I do think there is something to that,” says Lisa Moxley. “Part of that may be because there are so many people running. That is a story in and of itself….we need to be talking about Louisville.”

Moxley is an entertainment lawyer who has focused her campaign on rehabilitating neighborhoods, building new businesses and nurturing the arts. She says she isn’t discouraged by low polling numbers, and is planning a final push for votes this week. With about a fourth of voters undecided, Moxley says a strong enough public appeal could tilt support significantly away from the frontrunners.

“That’s what I’m hoping the news outlets will do to make sure people have access to all the candidates,” she says. “The public deserves that. We are at a critical time. Let the public decide who they want to lead them next.”

In St. Matthews, Shannon White sits surrounded by the yard signs she’s been distributing for the last few weeks. White, too, trails in the polls, which she attributes in part to her late entrance in the race.

“There is a concentrated group of people in the community that give money to political candidates and because I got in three or four months later than other ones, a lot of that money was already spoken for,” says White.

White has been critical of the more well-funded candidates. She’s sent e-mail blasts criticizing them as out of touch political insiders. She sees the high number of undecided voters as an encouraging sign that the frontrunners aren’t connecting with Louisvillians.

“What are people waiting for? What do they need to hear?” she says. “I didn’t enter this race just to be quiet and look nice. I entered the race to really take a hard look at who we’re going to elect as our next mayor and I am being critical because I think we need to ask hard questions about where we are headed as a community.”

There are two other Democrats on the ballot— activist Connie Marshall did not respond to an interview request. Burrell Farnsley has not run an active campaign.

Given the crowded field, it’s possible that a candidate could win the primary with 25 to 30 percent of the vote…and Moxley says the nominee will need to address the other candidates’ concerns before winning their endorsements.

“Those of us who have been outspoken about issues, we’re not going to stop speaking out about them because that’s what the people care about,” she says.

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