The Louisville Metro Council interviewed 13 applicants Tuesday who are seeking to fill the District 1 seat.
The candidates include a former police officer, attorney, social justice advocate, substitute teacher and business consultant, who are all seeking the seat formerly held by Councilwoman Judy Green. Council members questioned applicants about their views on redistricting, previous qualifications and background.
Kentucky Jobs With Justice Coordinator Attica Scott told city lawmakers that working as a social justice advocate since the late 1990s has prepared her to deal with other people’s point of view.
“Well in the work that I do I have a lot more people who don’t agree with me, especially working with the communities that I work with because they are so different and so rich and so diverse,” she says. “But I feel like the work you all do on Metro Council is complimentary to the work that I’m doing in community with Kentucky Jobs With Justice. It’s about human right, it’s about social justice, it’s about social services, it’s about taking care of communities and taking care of individuals.”
Applicants addressed a range of issues from economic development and unemployment to crime and blight in west and southwest Louisville.
JCPS program coordinator Ameerah Granger says neighborhoods are being decimated by a growing number of abandoned properties, which detours business from locating in the district.
“I really feel that affects whether or not businesses want to be in that area or not. It also hinders the morale of the area and to me for a city that’s already quite large, but looking to get bigger I really feel like every community has to have attention paid to it,” she says.
Others brought up the lack of opportunities in the district, such as businessman Alan Benson, who told the council he wants to create a economic and education “hub” to help residents start a business.
Each applicant was asked whether they thought Green was treated fairly during her ethics hearings and expulsion trial.
“If it was nothing there then nothing could be found. So there had to have been something there in order for her to be removed,” says Edna Harris, who currently lives at an address that would be drawn out of the district if the current maps are approved.
Council members also questioned applicants about youth organizations and their personal backgrounds, which resulted in one applicant dropping out. Before the interview process began, a council spokesman said issues such as taxes and liens would raise red flags among city lawmakers.
During the questioning, Councilman Bob Henderson, D-14, asked applicant Ray Barker Sr., a former police officer, about liens and code violations at his home.
“How can you justify that,” Henderson asked.
“I was going through a divorce and when those violations occurred I was absent from the home and most have been fixed,” Barker told the council.
Earlier this year, Barker filed the initial ethics complaint against Green that resulted in her ouster from office. Barker says he has a “stimulus” plan for the district and would forgo his Metro Government salary if selected.
The council will select someone to fill the seat this Thursday by a majority vote.