Earlier this month, Curious Louisville, in collaboration with Al Día en América, asked listeners: “If you were moderating a debate with all the candidates for the mayoral primary, what would you ask them?”
From your responses, we chose a list of 15 questions that covered a variety of topics — ranging from the future of mass transit in Louisville, to gun violence, to solutions for racial and economic segregation — and posed them to the candidates.
Here are Republican candidate Bob DeVore’s responses:
A listener wants to know: “What is your management style and philosophy when it comes to working with various agencies, departments and the public?”
Well, it’s a combination of both. As a former school board member, we had to be able to rely on our resources such as teachers, administrators and so on, but at the same time, it’s always to micromanage the areas and making sure they do get followed. We need to have the same goal, same purpose. If we don’t have that same goal, that same purpose, we’re going to be lost.
I guess one of the biggest failures of our management and our mayor, is that he didn’t really put out a basic goal at the very beginning of his campaign. I think he was going to be a businessman, but as far as right now, we see that has not happened when it comes to homicide, when it comes to building and growing an economic base. Those things need to be done, so I have the experience to do that.
That’s where we’re at right now.
Brennan wants to know: “What should be the future of mass transit in Louisville?”
Well, I agree with that. It was brought up years ago. I foresee that we have a light rail by 2040. I would love to see that around the city. If we’re going to be able to be competitive with cities such as New York City, as Los Angeles, as Chicago, we need to have a light rail system to be able to maintain and be able to grow with our city.
So-called Mayor wants to have an international city — well, we need to focus on our infrastructure. If we can’t make that solid, then we have problems. My vision is, first off, let’s go ahead and focus on 24/7 on our public transportation and build from there. We need to take care of our citizens — the east, the west, the north, the south — and be able to give them reliable transportation and go from and to work, from and to home, from and to the store, and so on and so forth.
If we don’t have a foundation, we’ll have problems.
A listener wants to know: “What will you do to keep Louisville from being unduly controlled/regulated by Frankfort rather than the local elected officials?”
We have to have a relationship. We need to have a relationship with our Metro Council, relationship with our mayor — well, it will be me, of course — and administration and all of that. Frankfort, we need to be able to have a level understanding and have a commitment that what is best for Louisville, including the governor. We’ll sit down, talk, strategize, focus on making things ‘citizens first.’ Making sure everything we do and say, no matter what decision it is, it’s gotta be citizen first and foremost.
A listener wants to know: “What are the essential elements for a successful JCPS?”
One thing we have to do is first off get to the table. As your mayor, I will have myself and other delegates sit there and say, ‘Okay, how can we help you?’ I believe in having a vision. We got to give the students an opportunity to grow and prosper and a lot of them don’t want to go to college, so why not bring back trade schools. Bring back those trade schools, give them a skill, maybe be an electrician, plumber; just about three months ago, I put out $700 on my plumbing, okay?
You can make some good money off these skills. We need to have a way to focus on what is best for our students, and I hate to say this, but I think our unions are blindsiding the teachers. Teachers need to understand, and as a former school board member, the focus on student first. Get them the understanding they have to have the tools to be successful. We have graduates that work at Kroger, even UPS, and not utilizing their tools. So we need to get back to the basics of reading, writing, arithmetic and be able to give that student the confidence to say, ‘I’m not here to flip hamburgers.’ I mean, you want fries with that opportunity? We have to find ways to commit our resources and use every dollar wisely, not only on my side, but on JCPS’ side, too.
Gary Mudd says: “The streets of downtown Louisville are so torn up, I avoid driving there. What is your plan for making downtown an inviting place to visit?”
I believe in sponsorship, so for example, even the highways and byways, we’re about $230 million in debt when it comes to road repair. We’re about $55 million in debt when it comes to sidewalks, so I can’t blame anybody not wanting to come down and see those potholes.
What we need to be able to do is sponsor those streets, those highways. For example, I used to be a UPS employee, why not instead of the Watterson Expressway, call it UPS Expressway, giving them the opportunity to put their resources in there the same time we do. Now we have enterprising opportunities for both teams, citizens and business alike, focus on keeping those streets clean and sharp and in-tune, and focus on that. Keep those citizens safe and the confidence to say, ‘Hey, it’s nice downtown, let’s see what’s going on.’
A listener asks: “What will you do to put the citizens and residents that live here year round first and foremost before tourist, conventioneers, etc. We pay the bills through taxes, but we have to deal with the bad roads.”
What we need to do is, we need to come up with a game plan, that’s going to put citizens first. Everything we say and do, is going to have the same theme underlying all the way through. We need to find ways to say, ‘Hey, let’s work on you to work.’ When you build pride and hope, and then opportunity, the citizen is going to say, ‘Hey, that’s pretty cool.’ And then bringing back sponsorships and bringing back enterprise and hope into our neighborhoods, develop a cohesiveness with our police officers, clergy and neighbors saying ‘It’s time to take back our streets, this is our town, and we’re going to keep it clean because this is our town.’
Dakota Neff asks: “Louisville is one of the country’s most segregated urban areas, racially and economically. How would you bring our communities together and increase economic development, specifically in West Louisville?”
I went to a neighborhood urban planning meeting and one of the biggest concerns was communication. They said that you can have these different types of websites, but what’s the best thing to do is knock on doors. We need to be able to connect with real people and say, ‘Hey, we’re here to help you.’ Go to every door down the West End and say ‘We’re here to help you, but you got to be able to help yourself. How can we help you help yourself?’
One of the things I’m going to look at is the idea of helping our single parent families, our mothers and dads who are single, and develop a daycare process where they can drop off their kids, go to work — such as UPS — and not have to worry about their kids. They pull long hours there.
If they do that, then when they come back home, they go back to their family. They build confidence — while we’re restoring viable youth opportunities, a viable future for that city.
But right now, the West End is being left out. You see so many abandoned buildings down there — all these things aren’t happening. Unemployment is at 13 percent; you got to find ways to cut that down in half. You need to have a mayor who has that courage and can connect.
Now, I promise you this: Once I become mayor, I’m planning on putting two days out of the month, go down to the West End, have my little office down there, and say, ‘Hey, come to my place. I’m here to help you. I have two ears and one mouth; I listen twice and talk once.’ I don’t have to have all the answers, but if I’m here to have an opportunity to bring our citizens together, we’ll come up with a solution to help our kids.
Susan Means wants to know: “What are your plans to stop the gun violence in our city?”
One thing we need to understand is that we got to make connections. I would like to move the police station from downtown and put it right it in the heart of Jefferson County. Create 21st-century technology and give the tools to our police officers to be able to do their job.
At the same time, I’d like to create a committee that can be nonpartisan that will be having folks from the West End, East End, South End, North End — be able to evaluate when situations come up. When you have police officers shooting; they’re going to have a lot of viable ways to intertwine into that police situation. That police crime.
We have to find ways to help them, and I’m here to serve no matter what.
Griffin Paulin says: “To your understanding, what is the root cause of homelessness, and as a follow up, how do you intend to curtail it?”
Well, as a veteran, my heart goes out to veterans — especially the homeless ones. We try to do as much as we can with organizations such as FRA, the American Legions, and try to get them back in and say these are our brothers and sisters.
The same with the homeless, no matter who they are, we want to make sure they have a place to go, but we got to make sure those places are well-funded and ready to take on the homeless, because I can’t do it by myself. It’s got to be a team, it’s got to be an effort where all of us come together and focus in the same direction — once you get that homeless off the street, get them social skills to do what’s right.
And I believe (in) creating a healthier environment for that homeless person.
Rebecca Pattillo asks: “What is your stance on racist or Confederate statues in public spaces throughout Louisville?”
One thing I am kind of disappointed in is the Watterson Expressway; that person has been documented as a racist politician. I believe that we need to go ahead and focus on what is best for our city.
One of the things I talked about before is to bring in businesses that’ll help sponsor those areas and then I want to remove that name, Watterson, off there and put whatever person or company or business — their name, their logo on it, and create pride in our cities. We need to treat each other equally. I put God first, and neighbor second. Who’s that neighbor? That neighbor’s you.
Black, white, red, yellow — let’s look at the content of that person’s side. That person is alive. That person has an opportunity to be here. Let’s treat them with equal pride and dignity.
A listener wants to know: “What local news sources do you consume on a regular basis?”
Well, I like to listen to WHAS — and Fox News every once in a while, but not very often. I like to listen to other stations like 9.70. Those stations are kind of in line with my thinking, but every once in a while, it’s good to learn what the other side is thinking, too. And be able to get a balance on it, because if you don’t know what the other side is thinking, how can you combine those problems?
Daniel Sherrill asks: “What do you plan on doing about neglected property and graffiti vandals? Those are the two things that seem to drag down our city aesthetically.”
And especially the West End.
What I would like to do is find out who’s doing that graffiti and try to channel their direction and try to find ways to say, ‘Hey, look — we know why you’re doing this. You’re trying to make an expressive message out to our folks. Why not go ahead and change that and create that graffiti to be beautiful.’
I’ve seen too many times, I go down to the West End and I see beautiful paintings, murals on here, why don’t you focus on that? And making the city beautiful instead of all this stuff that doesn’t make any sense at all. I’d create a purpose, a goal. Why not create a destiny for our future?
So 50 years from now, when our grandchildren say, ‘Who did that mural?’ Well, that guy who did graffiti and inspired people to be better.
A listener wants to know: “What role do you believe local law enforcement should play in enforcing immigration laws? Do you support the ordinance in place that prevents police officers from assisting ICE in most situations?”
I disagree with that. I was there at the Metro Council when they proposed that. I believe we need to put our citizens first and if we find someone who is illegal here and commits crimes, then we need to go ahead and take that information and put it in the proper hands.
So we can keep our city safe. If we don’t do that, we have problems.
A listener wants to know: “What is your vision for Louisville during and after your term in office if you are elected Mayor?”
One thing I want to do — and I see the state having the same problem — is that we always do two-year incremental process or budgets. I want to create a ten-year budget and focusing on one step at a time.
How do we strengthen our infrastructure, especially our watering system? How do we strengthen our transportation? How do we strengthen the West End? How do we strengthen having each other saying ‘Let’s have each other’s back?’
So when I get out of office, when I’m 120 years old, I’d like to see a right system and see people happy. Not just happy because who they are, but what they can be. And propel that happiness, that possibility, and say, ‘Hey kids, this is your city. Bob was just a servant of us. Now it’s our turn to step up and take what he started and perpetuated that in the 22nd century. If we don’t that, it’s our fault.’
As I say, I put them first and me last. My hope is, I like to see the city grow and prosper because each and every individual has a right and an opportunity to do so, but it’s our responsibility to take that first step.
89.3 WFPL is partnering with Al Día en América to provide Spanish-language versions of stories. To read this story in Spanish, click here.