Anthony Oxendine is one of eight candidates in the Democratic primary for Louisville mayor. He is the owner of Spring Valley Funeral Home.
Learn about the rest of the candidates here.
This interview was edited for clarity and length.
Over the last two years, Louisville has seen a record-breaking spike in homicides and gun violence. What do you think of the Fischer administration’s programs to combat violent crime, like the Group Violence Intervention initiative, and what would you bring to the table?
Well, it’s not what I think about Mayor Greg Fisher’s team, it is a matter of fact. They have failed miserably and they have let our people down. We still have children dying every day. We need to show more love, and what I want to bring to this table is love. If you have darkness, you put light on it, and the darkness goes away. You put love on the situation, the hatred will go away.
Our police chief, she will be fired immediately. After my election, I will ask for her resignation. It’s time for a change in his city, it’s time we stand up for what’s right. It’s time we get a hold of this situation. We’re not going to stop the gun violence, but we can definitely slow it down. I do not like the leadership skills we have with our police chief. And it’s time for a change. It’s not working.
After I replace the chief, we will start roadblocks again like we used to do back in the day. We will be collecting guns. We will have classes on guns. We will hire more police officers immediately, and we will be giving raises to every city employee in this city. We’re not going to be having to have meeting after meeting to decide what we’re going to do with a surplus of money, we’re going to give it to the people that are working in this city that deserve the money.
In 2020, Louisville Metro Council approved a new civilian review board and inspector general to provide more police oversight. What do you think of the police accountability reforms that are already in the works, and what would you propose to increase accountability and community trust?
As far as accountability, we’re not going to draw out a process. If we see that someone’s made a mistake and done something wrong, we’re going to address it immediately. Nip it in the bud immediately. We’re not going to push it under the rug. That person we fire immediately, just like I’m going to fire Chief Erika Shields. I will do that to anybody that works in the city that does not do what is correct.
For the school systems, I’m going to fight to put the 10 Commandments back in the schools. They will be in my office. They will be hanging in government buildings throughout the city. I’m going to fight to have prayer back in our schools. All this is gonna be something I’m going to fight for. And for people in our city that don’t want to come together, I’m going to ask them to please move out. Let me buy their house and leave. If you don’t want to be part of our city and come together as one, we don’t want you.
Many Louisvillians have taken note of the rapid increase in the number of residents living on the streets or in encampments throughout the city. What is your plan ensuring these folks have access to housing?
It’s not what I’m going to do, it’s what I am doing. Currently, I pick up seven to 10 people every day in this city and employ them for eight hours a day, and give them an opportunity to move on. Many of these folks have become homeowners or they’re now renting homes.
As a mayor of this city, I want to make a team of people that goes out and fixes these folks up. Take the ones that have skills, and work on the ones that can develop skills. We’re going to put them into vocational programs immediately, and teach them a skill so they can survive. Help them to buy a home. We’re going to make sure that the ones that aren’t capable of making these decisions, we’re going to help them get into a home where they can be stable, where they can be fed, clothed, bathed, and taken care of. We’re going to clean them up off the streets. They are someone’s child, and they do not deserve to be on that street.
I once was homeless. I know what it’s like to live on the streets. It’s not a fun place, and they don’t want to be there. A lot of them don’t. I didn’t want to be there. So as long as we give them a lift, and the Metro Council and the mayor are all on one page, we can come together and make this the number one city in America.
In that same vein, working residents across the city, and particularly in the West End, are concerned about gentrification. As mayor, how would you balance new development and redevelopment with the needs of residents who want to stay in their homes and not be priced out of their neighborhoods?
We need to come together with the Metro Council, and we need to sit down and talk about a plan, a plan that will take the current homeowners tax rate and freeze that for them for life. That way, it doesn’t go up and cost those people money they don’t have and take food off their table. As a city, we can do what we want to make that happen. As long as those people maintain their property, keep it looking to the best of their ability, and allow us as city employees to come help them. Currently, we fine people if they can’t mow their grass. Instead of that, let’s help them. Let’s stick together. Let’s do away with this silly parking authority where we have to pay a fine for parking downtown. Having to pay a meter to spend our money in town is crazy. It’s gotta go. We got to come together and unite and quit trying to take advantage of the poor.
In response to our audience survey, many people voiced concerns about Louisville’s dirty streets. They wrote about litter in public parks, in bike lanes and in neighborhoods. How would you address the need to literally clean up the streets?
We’re going to have cleanup days. If we build pride in our city and show love, people are not going to roll the window down and throw their trash out. They’re gonna see the compassion that we have. That starts with the mayor’s office. That person’s got to be concerned about the people. They will know that it’s important because they will see me as a mayor, not in an office, but out on the trash pickups. They’ll see me out working daily in this city, because it’s my city. And I expect people to jump in and help me. We need people that are going to get out and show some involvement and work in the city. And that’s what I will do as mayor.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released a report saying it is “now or never” to avoid a climate catastrophe. What will you do to protect Louisville and its residents from the impacts of climate change, including the threat of increased flooding from severe weather events?
I’m going to work hard to improve the infrastructure that we have. I want to work on these drains that we have. It just makes me so sick to drive down the street and a drain is stopped up because of the leaves and 15 police officers pass right by it. You let me catch one of my police officers or any city employee drive by something like that, I will fire them immediately.
I will make sure that people are out doing their job to clean the drains, clean the streets. We will work to make sure that’s done. I will apply for grants and try to get money or donations. If we can set up a nonprofit organization to where businesses can donate money to help with the infrastructure in our city and give them a tax break, they will donate money. We will do what we have to to raise money to take care of our city.