Metro Louisville
Courtesy of Chartrael Hall

Chartrael Hall is one of four candidates in the Republican primary for Louisville mayor. He is a minister at Quinn Chapel AME Church in Louisville’s Russell neighborhood and the co-founder of the nonprofit Get Better Every Day, which offers young people mentoring through sports.

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?

The Group Violence Intervention initiative is great. Well-needed. So I don’t want to make it look like the mayor is doing nothing.

I believe mental health and public safety go together. We have a true mental health issue right now, with so much trauma and drama. I’ve already been having the meetings that the city is trying to have with the gang leaders and gang members and the drug dealers. I’ve already been talking to them from a point of ministry, from a point of being out in the community and of service. You can ask about me, and they will tell you he’s out in the streets, he actually has a presence to try to alleviate the violence and to see what we can do to help the ones that are ready to transition. The current mayor can’t just walk in or the next mayor, if he doesn’t have the trust. That’s why my platform’s about restoration of trust. 

The second thing, with the illegal gun trade, we need to have an amnesty program where people are able to bring in guns. There used to be a program to bring guns to the churches, without the arrest and everything else. We need to just be able to get these things ⁠— these guns, the violence, the drug activity ⁠— we need to be able to get it from them. A lot of people don’t know, a couple of these gangs are young children, 15- and 16-year-olds. These are children. Not like grown men, these are children and young adults who have talent and skill but feel like they have no opportunity or anywhere to go. So that’s a huge policy issue. And you’re only gonna be able to do that if you really have the trust of the people.

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?

First and foremost, we need police. As individuals, certain bad things can happen or transpire. But these are fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, men and women. These are individuals. I’ve been encouraging people to join the police force since last year. One young man I counsel is already in the academy right now. I’ve been talking about this for two years, about getting more community involved. If you want to see the change, get involved, right? Plain and simple. Before we start pointing fingers and saying what this is, let’s get involved. 

The mayor appoints the chief of police. You have to trust this person is going to be able to fulfill running and managing this whole entire police force and every officer, as well as the community relations. So, it has to start at the top. Before you even get to the body, leadership has to start from the top. I believe there’s not that at this current moment. You saw when all the officers left LMPD, right? In 2020, 2021, just boom, they left. Now, people in the community, they feel this divide and separation. Everything you see is imploding and exploding at the same time. So what I propose is appointing the right leaders. That’s the accountability, because it falls back on the mayor. We need police, the funding is going to be there, but police have to show this attitude of, come in and partake. It comes down to leadership.

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?

There’s a lot of groups, as well as individuals, who are currently doing things for the homeless. There has to be a task force or a team, like priority just for this. And not just to talk or just to throw money at it, but where the ones actively doing the work can say, “Okay, what is it that we need to get done?” That would be the first piece. 

I talk to a lot of homeless people, and I asked them, “How can you be served? What is it that you need?” I know they’re rounding up the homeless, picking them up and taking them in vans to feed them and do work for a day and pay them. Yeah, that’s good. But where’s the transition? The plan that I would incorporate is partnering with existing groups to look at the houses and buildings that are vacant for housing. Like I said, there’s so many people already doing the work, it just hasn’t been a priority.

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?

The West End is a hidden gem. There’s beautiful homes and beautiful people. We just have to clean it up. We have to give it the proper attention first for the value to raise before you talk about pushing people out. People worked hard to acquire those homes and acquire that land. And they don’t just want it to be torn down and built up, so new people could just come in and do whatever. 

I’m not going to let anybody get run out of their home. We’re going to make sure that the resources are provided to make the home better. It’s not about driving anyone out of homes, it’s not about trying to take anything away from anyone, because everybody worked extremely hard for what they have and what they want to pass down. It’s about how do we see the worth and value [of the West End] and to raise it. Not to sell it to make a quick buck or anything, we’re talking about for the value of life, for the value of family.

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?

You can’t have a one-day initiative of cleaning up Louisville. It cannot be just one day. It goes back to the reason I am running for mayor: inspiration and empowerment of the people. Everybody is just like, “It’s the same old, same old. It’s whatever. It’s been this way for so long, why should I care now?” With everything that’s going on in the world today, the value of life is just not there.

I’m going to propose clean ups every single month. As mayor, I’m going to be out there. You have to be out there full-time. Yeah, you have to be in different meetings, and so forth, but the people need to see a mayor they can touch, that they can feel, that’s real. A mayor that’s working and serving. That’s doing what’s right. Cleaning up the city has to be intentional and we have to pull in the groups and the people already doing the work.

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?

We just have to continue to chop away at it strategically. Getting businesses to buy into renewable energy is the first piece, but then the next phase is going to be moving into residences. Getting residents to see the benefit of this is the direction we need to go. We have to show people how it can cut costs, how the cost of energy is less with solar, how it is far more beneficial and healthier. We live in the Ohio River Valley with allergies, pollution, small pollutants and all that. 

As far as protecting when it comes to flooding, yes, our infrastructure is not made to handle it and that’s where it just goes to the experts. I’m not saying that we don’t have all the pieces here, but we need to reach out to other experts and other cities to see how the best way they go about dealing with this, and not just throwing money. I’m not gonna sit here and tell you that I have all the answers. No mayor should get on here and tell you, “I have all the answers.” Sure, the mayor has to sign off, the mayor has the final say, but it has to be a collective. I just believe that it has to come from the expertise of others and talking to other cities that have the same issues to be able to truly know how to resolve the problem here.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL.