In a message to supporters, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced he is running for re-election in 2014.
The mayor had avoided the question when asked about seeking a second term in recent weeks, and the timing of the announcement had changed from January to mid-summer.
At the time, there were rumors Fischer was considering a bid for Kentucky’s U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Mitch McConnell, but the mayor later said he was leaning towards running for re-election.
Fischer acknowledged at a press conference Tuesday afternoon that the decision to run for a second term was based in part on continued rumors he was thinking about the U.S. Senate race in 2014 or the 2015 gubernatorial contest.
“I felt it was best to go ahead and make my intentions clear that I want to be mayor for a second term. There’s an awful lot of work that still needs to be done. We’ve got good momentum as a city. My family’s excited and has been fully behind me so I felt like now was a good time to make the statement,” he says.
Fischer says his administration has made some significant accomplishments in the first three years and there’s more work to be done.
In 2010, Fischer defeated Republican Hal Heiner in a close election running as a jobs candidate. The mayor says Louisville’s economy has improved since he took office, adding 22,000 jobs in the metro area (which includes southern Indiana) over the past two years.
“The critical issue for us as a city right now like it is for every American city is how are we going to turn this bridge to be a city of innovation in the 21st Century. That’s more job growth and that’s job growth focused on technology, engineering, etc.. So there’s a lot to do there,” says Fischer.
But Metro Councilman Ken Fleming, R-7, a rumored mayoral contender, says the local economy has fallen behind and high paying jobs are scarce, adding the GOP is actively seeking an opponent.
“I wish him luck,” says Fleming. “I think there are some Republicans I’ve talked to who are considering throwing their name in the hat. Louisville should be further down the road than we are based on his comments when he first ran. I’m looking for a candidate who really puts the city forward in the right direction.”
Asked if he was interested in running for mayor, Fleming told WFPL his focus remains on the 7th District. Like all odd-numbered council members, Fleming would have to give up his seat to challenge Fischer in 2014.
Besides new jobs Fischer asserts is that he is “developing a safer city,” through the creation of the Metro Police VIPER squad to pursue violent repeat offenders. That initiative was announced last summer as an idea by Chief Steve Conrad, however.
Surprisingly, Fischer does not mention his office forming a violence prevention task force or hiring a director for safe neighborhoods in the wake a of a brazen triple murder in the city’s West End. Rather, he mentions crime is down overall in the city despite data showing homicides skyrocketed by 28 percent last year.
“I just wanted to keep it at a high level in terms of how crime has been down in this city by 10 percent. Property crimes in particular,” Fischer told WFPL. “Obviously I’m not happy with where we are at with homicides last year.”
Councilman David James, D-6, says he supports the mayor’s re-election, but disagrees with the assertion about crime statistics.
“We still have victim’s of violent crime. We still have families whose children are being shot and injured, and those are in high numbers,” he says. “You have to be careful in trying to take ownership of crime being down because if you do that then you should be prepared to take ownership for crime going up.”
Other accomplishments the mayor lists include:
Breaking ground on the Ohio River Bridges Project by working with officials in Kentucky and Indiana
Investing in the city’s libraries, including re-opening libraries on Sunday and renovating Shawnee, Bon Air and the Western branch, opening a new Fairdale branch and funding construction of the Southwest regional library, in Valley Station;
Creating a more efficient government through the the Office of Performance Improvement and LouieStat, short for Louisville Statistics, to ensure taxpayer dollars are wisely spent. LouieStat led to $1.46 million in savings in overtime from March of last year to March this year, a 14 percent savings.
Leading a cultural transformation at the Metropolitan Sewer District and a consolidation with Louisville Water Company, saving up to $25 million to ratepayers
Developing a more compassionate community, including the Give a Day week of service each April, which led to Louisville being named America’s Most Livable City by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
“Probably the biggest disappointment so far in being mayor is the lack of capital we’ve had to invest in the city,” the mayor says.
Fischer campaign manager Jonatah Smith says the first re-election campaign event will be a June 11 fundraiser.
No other candidates have announced their intentions to run for Louisville mayor in 2014.