The Chamber of Commerce requested all candidates for local office to answer questions. I presume all candidates were asked the same questions but that may not be correct. My questions and answers appear below. Other candidates' answers can be found at the One Southern Indiana web site www.1si.org.
Question No. 1.
One Southern Indiana believes that regional partnerships and cooperation are key elements for a business-friendly environemnt and economic progress. How do you plan to work with county leadership, surrounding counties and cities, and with Louisville in achieving economic prosperity and land use planning for your city?
The primary role in setting a regional strategy for economic progress belongs to the mayor. As a candidate for Council at Large, I plan to lobby the mayor on behalf of the entire city, including all its citizens and businesses. I will do so from my perspective as a business owner in Louisville, a life-long resident of New Albany, and as a citizen committed to environmental stewardship. Prosperity and the environment can peacefully co-exist.
Land use planning is one of the most significant steps local governments can take toward creating a sustainability model. The guidelines of such a model can be highly positive for businesses. Curtailing sprawl, for example, reduces the tax money spent building infrastructure for outward growth patterns. Sprawl promotes development first. Smart growth promotes re-development first. Portland, Oregon placed curbs on sprawl in the early 1990s, which caused entrepreneurs to re-develop. Today, according to a recent New York Times article, Portland has become a wining and dining hotspot. Now that the core of Portland has been densified, the government there is looking toward orderly expansion outward. The difference now is that a robust hub serves as the focal point of commerce rather than a diffuse, haphazerd sprawlscape. To quote Mayor Jerry Abramson:"You can't be a suburb of nothing."
Question No. 2.
One Southern Indiana focuses on economic development-either through the attraction of new businesses or by helping our existing companies to expand. If elected, what would you do to increase economic development opportunities and improve the competitiveness of your city for investment and growth?
Economic development can be looked at locally or regionally, but with the understanding that such a strict division is, practically speaking, artificial.
Locally:I would hope to foster rejuvenation of our neighborhoods. Such redevelopment is environmentally sound because fewer resources are used for new construction; and it is fiscally prudent because we, today, can benefit from the capital expenditures made by our predecessors. I have suggested that redevelopment of distressed neighborhoods could be helped with a program called "Challenge Zones". These zones would offer regulatory latitude to re-developers of owner-occupied houses, such as no-cost permits or economic incentives. I would work to see that procurement of government goods and sevices is done with a preference for local businesses. I believe such a preference strengthens our economy. I would work to increase citizen participation through increased use of boards and commissions. This helps bring more knowledge to government and more understanding of government. It makes citizens more than simply tax-payers.
Regionally: I would, again, working as a team with the mayor, try to capitalize on one of Southern Indiana's greatest assets--Louisville. Many people work in Louisville but live in Indiana. Beyond that aspect of Louisville's importance to our region is the active promotion of the city as a convention destination. While convention visitors are in the region, Southern Indiana can promote satellite attractions to entice these visitors here to shop for antiques and art, tour museums and wineries, attend a concert or event ant IUS, and take a carriage ride, a bike ride, or a stroll along the Greenway for the best view of Louisville.
Question No. 3.
What is your agenda for business?
My agenda for business is to entice it to become more environmentally beneficial. Beyond obviously helping the environment, "green" businesses and business practices are already taking shape as trends for the future. Such a focus can keep business ahead of the curve instead of being left behind. In addition, promoting locally owned businesses is high on my list of priorities. The most valuable dollar in a local economy is one earned by a local business and spent in other local businesses.
Question No. 4.
What is your vision for Southern Indiana?
My vision for Southern Indiana is that of a prosperous community of tolerant, engaged people who are proud of their past, and are looking responsibly toward the future.