As the mayoral campaign heats up, it should be noted that Louisville hasn’t had a Republican mayor in four decades, and since merger the Democrats have had solid control of both branches. Those facts, observers say, make any GOP candidate a long shot, but don’t tell Metro Councilman Hal Heiner, R-19, who has entered the race with confidence.
“This is about service, and after seeing missed opportunity after missed opportunity, the only way to have the most significant impact is from the Mayor’s Office,” he says. “After serving for these seven years I just decided if I’m going to have an impact on the community that I love, the maximum impact is from the Mayor’s Office. I just have to run.”
The East End Republican recently sat down with LEO Weekly to talk about job growth, mayoral power and Louisville’s future. Here’s an excerpt of that interview:
LEO: What are your thoughts about Councilman Brent Ackerson’s resolution encouraging state lawmakers to cut the Metro mayor’s term limit from three to two?
Hal Heiner: Personally, I believe an eight-year term is a better term. It encourages other talent in Louisville to consider leadership. I think it fosters a call for a public servant in the position of mayor rather than a career politician. It’s a positive move, but before we pass this resolution we need to hear from the public. The public voted merger in; they understood the form of government when they voted, so a public hearing should be a part of that process before we move forward.
LEO: What are some transparency initiatives you would implement as mayor to open up Metro government?
HH: The first step after being elected mayor would be to call for a full state audit of every department of Metro government so that we have a fresh start … and to release (the results) to the public so we know the status of every department in this government. After that fresh start, the second part would involve the method of managing this community. I think you’d see a big difference. For instance, we would also call in that first year for a study on the delivery of services, a comprehensive study on how we may more efficiently deliver them. The current administration prepared the study (but) never released it. In my administration we would prepare the study and release it.
LEO: In a city that leans heavily Democratic, what does the Republican candidate for mayor need to offer as an alternative?
HH: Louisville has a long history of supporting the candidates that they feel will best move the city forward. If you look at the last county judges race, Rebecca Jackson, who is a Republican, was elected countywide. Look at our county clerk’s office. So the voters in Louisville have shown a history — which I feel is admirable — of viewing the candidates, understanding the issues and selecting the person.
LEO: Do you believe the GOP has made the necessary inroads with independent and urban voters?
HH: I don’t see this race being about parties. I see it being about individuals (and) issues … I feel like there are a number of neighborhoods where the basic quality of life level has been allowed to deteriorate. I’m talking about neighborhoods where every third house is boarded up. I’m talking about neighborhoods where every eighth lot is vacant and the grass is nearly waist high, (and) the areas where retail centers have been boarded up for years. And if we don’t help on those issues … an entire neighborhood can implode. We need to find a way, partnering with corporations in Louisville and nonprofit agencies we have in this community, to go back into neighborhoods that are in trouble. Instead of focusing on the mega-project, (we need to ask), “how do we build this neighborhood back?” That would be a focus of my administration.
LEO: What’s your vision for Louisville?
HH: I want Louisville to be a model. If there’s a list of business-friendly communities, I want to see Louisville at the top. I want us to be a model for when other cities are trying to figure out what openness and transparency is, they know they can come to Louisville and see the best. When it comes to addressing the questions around quality of life, we need to be a role model. There are neighborhoods throughout our community that are not being addressed and they need to be. The light needs to be shined on them.
Read the full interview at leoweekly.com