Metro Louisville

A Louisville businesswoman is running for mayor as a Democrat. Carla Dearing promises  to promote public safety across the city, disrupt the status quo and invest in low-income neighborhoods.

“It starts by including everyone, Black, brown, LGBTQ, all the stakeholders and the experts and really centering their voices in the decision-making process,” Dearing told WFPL News. “And marry that with what monies are available, and who’s trying to do development and then setting a priority.”

She said achieving her goals will require those elements, which she described as “equity-driven.”

Dearing said she would encourage growth within disinvested neighborhoods, including through workforce development, increasing access to child care and building affordable housing — something Louisville needs much more of — especially for very low-income residents. In 2019, an assessment of housing needs across the city highlighted the city needs 31,412 units for Louisvillians who make 30% of the area median income, or $16,300 annually for a family of one. 

She said one way to keep rents low and make a dent in building housing for residents at the lowest income levels is to offer developers more subsidies to produce mixed-income apartments. Dearing said that strategy would address housing for those who can afford the least, as well as those who are slightly better off.

“If you think about what I’m talking about, it’s really a blending of what the nonprofits would like to see happen and what the developers are willing to fund,” she said

But housing advocates argue adding market rate housing to mostly Black, low-income neighborhoods can perpetuate the displacement of their residents.

When asked what she would do to ensure people could stay in their homes, Dearing did not provide details about what policies or strategies she would employ to lessen the impact of gentrification, but stressed the need to increase amenities within new developments and build affordable housing throughout the city. 

“One [way] is to make these fantastic developments that provide opportunity, live-work-play destinations that really provide opportunity for people to stay, and to come. We do have to recognize that not everyone wants to stay,” Dearing said. “We need to think about affordable housing as being in places where people work.”

While she touted accountability, open communication and measuring change, Dearing didn’t offer exactly how she would deliver on her campaign promises

Dearing is one of five confirmed Democratic candidates for mayor — and one of three women in the race. While dozens of Democrats have held the position in the city’s 193-year history, a woman never has.

Yasmine Jumaa is WFPL’s race and equity reporter.