Louisville Magazine

OCT 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 10.18 57 "I don't think she'd be a bad mayor, but you really don't know how someone will do as mayor until they become mayor," James says. When she's not schmoozing or airing her disappointments, Leet is studying. She keeps a cart by her bed, stacked with books on Louisville's history and on leadership. Two Centuries of Black Louisville: A Photographic History sits on a table in her Metro Council office. "One of my regrets — I was so into science and math growing up, I used to read Popular Science and Scientific American, and I now have a much greater appreciation for history, so I feel like I'm trying to catch up," she says. One afternoon at her campaign headquarters — a continuation of shades of blue, with satin pillows, velvet accents, a teal rug and a corn hole set — she says she's reading up on LMPD crime statistics. A work she's digging into now is the 2002 book by former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith called Putting Faith In Neighborhoods: Making Cities Work rough Grassroots Citizenship, which emphasizes faith-based and community-organized work. "One of the things that I keep hearing when I'm out on the campaign trail is…from the church families that say, 'We want to be able to do more; we'd love more support,'" she says. "Just — the barriers of government (and churches) working together, it's just extreme. So I've been trying to think: How can the churches step in and help with homelessness?" After lunch, the crew heads to the Jefferson County Republican Party's West End office, inside the Trinity Family Life Center on Hale Avenue in Chickasaw, just west of I-264. Every couple of weeks, Leet and a group get together and clean up the yard and surrounding blocks. Leet sheds her jacket and heels, slips on a pair of running shoes and some work gloves, and starts picking up pieces of garbage. She talks about how she once met with the principal at the school of one of her sons, to help him improve some behaviors. Leet had a list of seven or eight things she wanted him to work on. "She said, 'at's too many. Start with three, and when he's got those taken care of, then you can add some more.'" Now, Leet says, he's a junior taking four AP classes. "I think the problem is, sometimes we try to do too many things, so we don't do anything well. We do a whole lot of things that are average or terrible." As mayor, she says her focus will be on public safety, which she'll address through new police leadership and aggressive recruiting of police and first responders. She doesn't have a chief in mind but says that it should be someone with gang- fighting and Drug Enforcement Agency experience, and "relationships with people at the federal level." Infrastructure is also top of the list — pot-hole-free roads, adequate sidewalks and ample street lighting. "I think you gotta go back to the basics," she says. "One of my philosophical beliefs: I think government isn't supposed to do what people are able to do for themselves. If we were working on really doing those priorities really, really well, a lot of the other things would start to take care of themselves." Leet says she would alter the way the city approaches economic incentives by "acknowledging that people are in fact our greatest resource." Training people for jobs, she says, would be a great way to gives businesses the incentive to move to Louisville. She doesn't mention the promising — and tangible — Academies of Louisville that are giving 17,000 JCPS students a boost (and that she threw her weight behind at Valley), which the mayor has championed. Or the SummerWorks program Fischer created in 2011 that has continued to grow, from 200 to now more than 6,000 kids. While the mayor tends to cheerlead — $13 billion in investment! Bourbonism! Unemployment at 3.5 percent! — while downplaying the issues, Leet does just the opposite. As Leet's driving down Broadway in west Louisville, Durand spots a 77,000-square-foot, under-construction site and asks, "What's going here?" "e YMCA," Leet says, diverting the conversation to point out the radio studio where she recently did an interview and a Habitat house she worked on — without adding, as Mayor Fischer might do, that the YMCA project has been a 10-year, $28-million endeavor that will include a Republic Bank & Trust branch (offering financial literacy classes), a Norton Healthcare clinic and other services. When running for Metro Council against Democrat Bruce Maples (whom Leet beat with 63 percent of votes), she told the C-J that, while she would look into evaluating the minimum wage, raising it does not lift people out of poverty, and that she favors keeping entry-level positions for youth. When I ask how she arrived at that belief on minimum wage, she looks over each of her shoulders and, in a defensive tone, says, "Who's decided what my views are on minimum wage?" as though she were being accused of something. She goes on to mention "free-market principals," mentioning her first $2-something-an- hour job. "What we should really be talking about is: Why does Louisville still fall way behind in the national trend on wages?" she says. To fund her public-safety and infrastructure plans, Leet grabs an ax. (ough she says that creating a climate for more businesses and better wages would increase the city's tax revenue.) "ere was $500,000 on bike lanes. Could I cut that in half?" she says. (e allotment for bike lanes makes up half a percent of the city's overall budget). "ere's a budget for trees. Could I cut that in half? Could I save 10 percent in every department?" Continued on page 117 "I told her, 'You understand, if you get elected mayor, on day one you're not gonna solve all those problems; they're just gonna be yours now,'" her husband says. "She's like, 'Bring it on. Fine. Put it on my shoulders.'"

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