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CivicLex Candidate Survey

District 3

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Jake Gibbs

Top Three Issue Priorities:
Development & Housing, General Government, & Public Health

Renee Jackson Shepard

Top Three Issue Priorities:
Community Design, Development & Housing, & Public Safety


Agriculture & Food Systems

Jake Gibbs:

Most Significant Issue: My district is the only one that doesn't even touch New Circle Rd. It is the most urban by far. Still, my constituents are concerned about the rural economy. Most would like to limit sprawl to protect the unique character of our area. Also, a great many of them are committed to local farmers by frequenting Farmers Market, belonging to CSA's and shopping at places that carry local food.

Plan to Address it: I voted against the attempt to weaken the Urban Service Boundary and will work to limit expansion in the future. The downtown Farmers Market is in my district. I stay in close touch with them and listen to their needs. Eg., I played a major role in acquiring the vinyl sides for winter use in the Pavilion.

Renee Jackson Shepard:

Most Significant Issue: Food waste & lack of composting.

Plan to Address it: A public awareness campaign on both issues would be a start. Many people may not be aware of programs such as Glean or the environmental impacts of just throwing away their compostable food scraps & coffee grounds. I also would like to see the City provide compost services in the same way they do recycling, yard waste & trash collection.


Arts & Culture

Jake Gibbs:

Most Significant Issue: I think we have a great and thriving Arts and Culture scene. But there is always need for money and audience.

Plan to Address it: I have long been a supporter of the arts. And I have supported public arts projects in my terms on Council, eg., helping to fund the Henry Clay mural and the new entrance art at Woodland Park. I recently voted with the majority of Council to provide solid funding for Public Art. I attend a great many events, plays, concerts, gallery hops, etc. My office puts out a weekly electronic newsletter and getting the word out about events is one of its key roles.

Renee Jackson Shepard:

Most Significant Issue: Awareness & knowledge of opportunities.

Plan to Address it: The 3rd District is the Arts & Culture hub of the City. The district hosts touring Broadway plays, concerts, gallery hops, public art, museums & many outdoor concerts/festivals. We need to do a better job of publicizing these events, especially the free events, in order to ensure that all our citizens have a chance to enjoy the variety of cultural events in the district. Creating a one-stop shop for finding all arts & culture opportunities is a must.


Community Design

Jake Gibbs:

Most Significant Issue: I'm not sure what you mean by that.

Plan to Address it: n/a

Renee Jackson Shepard:

Most Significant Issue: Making facilities & infrastructure accessible & safe to all citizens.

Plan to Address it: Creating “livable communities” should be a priority for our community. Utilizing “universal design” in all public facilities should be required. By utilizing these two concepts we become a much more inclusive community for all ages. Encouraging multi-modal forms of transportation is also an area we can improve upon. I believe we need to invest in dedicated (separated) bicycle lanes to encourage more people to bike as a mode of transportation.


Development & Housing

Jake Gibbs:

Most Significant Issue: We need more affordable housing for low-income people. We also need more housing downtown for people who are not poor but can't live in the expensive condos that take up so much of the housing scene. If we want downtown to thrive we need to get more people living there.

Plan to Address it: LFUCG puts $2 million a year into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. We should be putting in at least $3 million. We should examine incentives for developers to concentrate less on luxury housing and focus on what can be afforded by young professionals and retired middle class folks.

Renee Jackson Shepard:

Most Significant Issue: Affordable housing.

Plan to Address it: I am in favor of offering incentives to developers in exchange for them creating affordable housing units. I believe that this approach would enable us to invest more & more effectively in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund & make up significant gains in the number of affordable housing units we are currently lacking & forecasted to need in the coming years.


Economic Development

Jake Gibbs:

Most Significant Issue: The University is the major employer in the city and bulk of it is in my district. It appears to be thriving. Most of downtown is also in the district. Lots going on there, too. I'd like to see more retail downtown providing jobs that downtown dwellers can walk or bike to.

Plan to Address it: I'd like to see the Downtown Lexington Partnership work to attract retail downtown - especially a drug and a grocery store.

Renee Jackson Shepard:

Most Significant Issue: Creating jobs.

Plan to Address it: We must continue to make Lexington a place that businesses want to relocate to & remain in. Investing in quality of life projects (trails, parks, downtown & other attractions) is one way to ensure Lexington remains an attractive location to do business.


Education

Jake Gibbs:

Most Significant Issue: Do you mean Public and Higher Ed? Council has little to do with education.

Plan to Address it: n/a

Renee Jackson Shepard:

Most Significant Issue: Ensuring we are preparing students for careers.

Plan to Address it: Although the Council has no control over the school system, we need to support & encourage the growth of secondary programs that ensure students are career & college ready. Programs like the High School Academies prepare students for jobs. I support having more internship & apprentice programs so students can experience careers while in high school & college. Students need to explore a variety of opportunities so that they can decide their individual best paths to career readiness.


Environment & Energy

Jake Gibbs:

Most Significant Issue: We need to reduce carbon emissions. We should be promoting solar.

Plan to Address it: I am the strongest voice on Council for bike and pedestrian safety. I serve on the Bike Share Advisory Committee. I will continue to advocate for healthy mobility choices. LFUCG should be doing more to promote solar in the community and using it on its buildings. I am working on the former right now.

Renee Jackson Shepard:

Most Significant Issue: Complying with the EPA Consent Decree.

Plan to Address it: Continued strides to repair & replace our sanitary and storm water infrastructure is not only a mandate it is smart for our City, especially in the 3rd District that houses some of the oldest infrastructure.


General Governance

Jake Gibbs:

Most Significant Issue: I think the city is generally governed well. But the budgeting process is too top-down.

Plan to Address it: I would like to see more of the budget allocated to the Council districts so the Council Member with the citizens could decide priorities for the district.

Renee Jackson Shepard:

Most Significant Issue: I believe we need to be more inclusive & transparent in our decision making process.

Plan to Address it: Holding more public forums that are not just in the evening or always at City Hall would allow more citizens to be informed on issues & be engaged. These sessions should be prior to major decisions. The recent City Hall relocation is a prime example of why the citizens should have been engaged early & not after the fact. Term limits for all City boards & commissions would create more opportunities for people to be involved. Ensuring diversity on these boards & commissions is also a priority.



Immigration

Jake Gibbs:

Most Significant Issue: I don't see any significant issue in my district. People seem to get along. I know of no ICE raids in the 3rd District.

Plan to Address it: Just keep getting along.

Renee Jackson Shepard:

Most Significant Issue: Immigration policy reform.

Plan to Address it: We need to look at our current immigration policy at the Federal level & make it easier for those seeking to become legal citizens of our country. As a Council we can reach out & encourage our elected officials in Washington to make needed changes.


Public Health

Jake Gibbs:

Most Significant Issue: Mosquitoes and Hepatitis are immediate concerns. But in the long run I think obesity, and the related problems like are heart disease and diabetes are most important.

Plan to Address it: This is a complex issue which the local government can have limited impact on. (I am the Council representative on the Board of Health and address all these issues in that capacity.) But I think we can contribute by improving conditions for walkers and bikers, and advocating for our Parks and Recreation department. I have worked hard for bikers, walkers and parks, and will continue to do so. We will start building the Town Branch Commons Trail next year. It will be trans-formative.

Renee Jackson Shepard:

Most Significant Issue: The opioid crisis.

Plan to Address it: In order to address this issue it is going to require collaboration & cooperation from lots of groups. We need prevention, intervention & community mobilization. Stronger penalties for dealers & suppliers are needed in order to curb the supply chain. Addressing underlying issues (employment, housing & stable environments) through community partners is also a key piece of the puzzle. Destigmatizing being in treatment & recovery is also needed.


Public Safety

Jake Gibbs:

Most Significant Issue: Violent crime is always a concern but it is on the decline and I think our police do an excellent job. The issue that concerns me most is safety for pedestrians and bikers. Last weekend a 4 year old boy was killed on Cooper Dr. It is only the latest tragedy in a long string. And I think things are getting worse. There are more cars with more distracted drivers. I frequently have near misses with people running stop lights.

Plan to Address it: We need more protected bike lanes. We need more crosswalks that are better designed. We need our police to be stricter in enforcement of traffic laws. I'm working on all of those things.

Renee Jackson Shepard:

Most Significant Issue: Aggressive panhandling.

Plan to Address it: Constituents bring this issue up more than any other. The Pedestrian Safety Ordinance helped alleviate some of the panhandling on our corridors but does not address sidewalk panhandling, especially in downtown. Currently the police do not have the ordinances needed to address this issue. Other cities have ordinances that have limited the places where panhandling can occur (not ordinances that ban panhandling). I support implementing a similar approach for Lexington.


Transportation

Jake Gibbs:

Most Significant Issue: We have traffic problems.

Plan to Address it: Surely, there are some high-tech improvements that can make traffic signals more efficient, etc,. But our Traffic Engineering dept does a good job of looking for ways to make traffic flow. The introduction of flashing yellow left turn signals has been great. They have converted many signals to 4-way stops and these have worked great (and saved money). But the root of the problem is that there too many cars on the road. We need to do everything we can to promote biking walking and bus riding.

Renee Jackson Shepard:

Most Significant Issue: Our public transit system.

Plan to Address it: LexTran’s hub & spoke bus system is a deterrent to choice riders (individuals with cars that do not have to rely on buses) due to the time commitment. Offering more direct routes & routes into neighborhoods would increase ridership. Providing bus shelters & benches at all stops would also encourage choice riders & provide everyone with these comfort amenities.


Richard Young