Election 2020 Metro Louisville

The Louisville Metro Council’s 16th District encompasses the northeastern-most part of the county, including most of the small city of Prospect.

Scott Reed, the first-term Republican incumbent in the seat, is running for re-election against Democrat James Green. Each of them ran unopposed in their respective primaries.

Courtesy Scott Reed

Reed, 58, is vice president of national sales at his family’s printing business, V.G. Reed & Sons Inc. He lives in the small city of Green Spring. He was first elected to the council in 2016 with 51 percent of the vote, and serves on the planning and zoning and budget committees. Reed is also vice chair of the seven-member Republican delegation for the council.

Last year, Reed agreed to pay a $2,000 fine for violations of campaign finance laws in the 2016 race. In this election cycle, Reed has raised nearly $49,000 and spent nearly $28,000, according to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance (KREF).

Reed is endorsed by his fellow Republican council members, as well as Kentucky State Treasurer Allison Ball, State Senator Julie Raque-Adams, State Reps. Kevin Bratcher, Jason Nemes and Jerry Miller, and U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, according to his campaign website.

Courtesy James Green

Green, 64, is a retired lawyer and judge who lives in Norton Commons. He said his experience includes serving as an assistant county attorney for about three years starting in 1987, as well as a district court and family court judge from the early 1990s until 2001. He was endorsed by Better Schools Kentucky.

He unsuccessfully ran for district court in 2014 and 2015. He also had a failed bid for a family court seat in 2010. That year, he appeared in family court related to child support payments and medical bills for his then-teenage daughter. He reportedly settled that dispute in 2014. Green has not filed any election finance reports with KREF.

Both candidates responded to a questionnaire from WFPL. Below are their responses, some of which have been lightly edited for clarity and length:

What are your ideas for helping residents in your district weather the continued challenges posed by coronavirus, both in terms of health and finances?

Green: I would suggest that my district has been blessed with health care solutions and finance situations far exceeding most districts. Masking and social distancing have been practiced throughout the district to the best of our ability. Many of us have maneuvered the storm as well as resources and prudent health care practices will allow. On the larger scale, I believe we all benefit by helping the Metro area as a whole. As a rule, Metro can only generate revenue three ways: occupational taxes on wages and net profits from business; insurance premium taxes; and property taxes. Due to COVID, many small businesses have closed and employees are out of work. We have to build that base back up, which in turn will generate resources for the city. It will be an enormous challenge, but the ultimate rewards will be great!

Reed: As a member of the council’s budget committee, my focus has been on public safety, infrastructure investment and making Metro Government a more efficient steward of people’s taxes. Because of the lack of opportunities to meet people in person, I have focused on holding online forums, increased email communications, as well as availability through meeting on site within the district. My focus during these months has been on getting people the information they need to be safe and focusing our efforts on getting our government ready for the eventual return to pre-COVID days.

Screenshot via Louisville Metro Council

What, if any, Louisville Metro Police Department budget and policy reforms would you advocate for as a Metro Council member?

Reed: As a member of the budget committee, I was part of the bipartisan budget agreement that significantly increased investment in our city while maintaining funding for our police. We were able to listen and address the needs of additional funding for diversion programs while also ensuring that our police and public safety officials are able to get the funding they need to achieve their missions. In addition to funding additional revenue for training and recruitment, we also began work to increase funding for de-escalation programs that will hopefully better protect both officers and the people we serve.

Green: As a former district and family court judge, I’ve witnessed the good and bad in society. While policing is important and most effective when administered at the community level block-by-block, we know that we cannot police our way out of the violence. That’s not to say I am in favor of defunding the police, it’s just that police can’t prevent all types of crime. The poverty that plagues areas with violent “hotspots” is unimaginable to most of you. I witnessed it for years on the bench and nothing much has changed. My approach would focus on educational and workforce development, proven ways to change societal behavior, instead of a life fueled with drug-driven violence. We have to put energy and resources behind finding people a family-sustaining job since automation continues to squeeze low-skilled workers.

What is the No. 1 issue facing your district, and how do you plan to address it?

Green: I believe there are two primary issues for my district: conservation and council member accessibility.

Whether it’s high-density development or traffic congestion, decisions made by Metro affect our neighborhood’s connectivity and community fabric. Since the city of Prospect is the district’s only suburban city with zoning powers, Metro Council’s planning and zoning decisions affect most of us. We must conserve land by proactively adopting neighborhood plans which preserve existing residential neighborhoods and steer future development proposals. For new development proposals, traffic congestion and flooding/runoff will guide my decisions. I want to cautiously grow our environmental footprint while expanding our land and tree preservation efforts. Neighborhood and corridor plans provide a way to be good stewards of the earth and smartly grow our area.

I’ve been underwhelmed with the current council member’s interaction with the district. I’m committed to hosting quarterly district-wide meetings, proactively seeking opinions, and serving as a full-time council member. I plan to be fully transparent with appropriations and promise to spend district infrastructure funds on much-needed projects in our own district rather than on furthering a political agenda. The job warrants full-time attention, and as a retired judge, I have the time to focus on Metro Council policy decisions while also personally assisting residents through the maze we call government.

Reed: My top priority is public safety, whether it is fully funding the police, supporting better communication systems, body cameras or increasing the funding for new recruits. This support isn’t just financial, it also is a result of upholding our laws and enforcing them. I was part of the bipartisan group that challenged the administration’s decision to “stand down” or look the other way when downtown businesses were vandalized, and I have been a vocal advocate for improved transparency in terms of the disclosure of all government resources involved in the death of Ms. Breonna Taylor. Safety is also about having good infrastructure. I have dedicated more than 95% of all of my discretionary funds towards fixing roads and will continue to advocate for better roads, drainage and planning for our community.

Amina Elahi is WFPL's City Reporter.