When I decided to run for mayor, even though I’ve spent nearly all my life here, I wanted to get to know our city even better, especially after all the challenges we’ve been through the last few years. I also believe that if you’re going to ask people for their trust, you have to show up, in person, often. That’s why I launched “Run with Craig.” And I went for runs through every ZIP Code, every Metro Council District and every one of our 623 voting precincts. A lot of these runs began around 6:00 a.m. And I invited people to join me.
I ran with my childhood neighbors in Green Spring. I ran with high school track stars. I ran with Joe Burket. He’s a Louisville man who’s legally blind and who’s run in the Boston Marathon. And I got to see up close so much of what makes our city so special. There’s the incredible human diversity of the nearly 800,000 people who live here. There’s also the incredible geographic diversity that Louisville has. We have this urban core here in our downtown. But a few miles to the east and the south, there’s woods and farmland. I ran past historic Victorian houses in Old Louisville. I nearly got hit by semi-trucks as I ran on narrow, winding roads past brand-new subdivisions outside the Gene Snyder. I ran on the Urban League’s world-class track in Russell. And on these runs, I’d stop and talk to people. And – more importantly – I listened. And I heard amazing stories – stories about neighbors and neighborhoods. About kids growing up. And parents growing older. About what used to be. And what could be.
To everyone who shared your story with me – thank you and I heard you.
I heard your love for our city. I heard your hopes and your frustrations. And the reasons you’re concerned about the direction our city may be heading in. I heard you say over and over that you want to move our city in a new direction. And after all of those conversations, I truly believe that I step into the leadership of a city with more promise than any city in America. So let’s… get… moving.
Starting now, our team will focus the energy of Metro Government and our community on making Louisville a safer, stronger and healthier city. And to be clear, my administration’s first and highest priority is making Louisville a safer city. That means a city where we all feel safe in every neighborhood, every business, every park and every bus stop. That’s critical and necessary everywhere, and especially right here as we work to reinvigorate our beautiful downtown. To strengthen public safety, we have to go All In. We have to make LMPD the best police department in America. To do that, we have to put our hardworking, dedicated officers in position to succeed and do the job the right way. We have to support them with the training, recruitment, resources, compensation and leadership they need to do this incredibly difficult and important work. We will improve transparency, collaboration and accountability – at LMPD and throughout all of Metro Government – and that starts with me. Part of my job as mayor is holding others accountable. And I expect you to hold me accountable.
Becoming a safer and more just city is essential to everything we do. And let me be clear, improving public safety is about much more than policing. It is also about preventing as many crimes as possible through outreach, investment, communication, building trust, and community violence intervention strategies, which we will expand. Making our city safer means taking on historic challenges like poverty, substance use, childhood trauma, mental health, hopelessness and other factors that put too many people on a path that leads to crime and tragedy. It means working with grassroots organizations across our community to reduce gun violence. And, we’ll provide more avenues away from crime and violence by expanding the work already underway through successful programs that you championed, Mayor Fischer, like Evolve502 and Summerworks. Becoming a safer city means being a stronger city for everyone. While some parts of our city are growing and thriving, there are neighborhoods that are hurting.
We must build on the work that’s happening in West Louisville and direct more investment and resources to these proud neighborhoods. That’s one of the ways we’ll work to counter the impact of generations of disinvestment and systemic racism. It’s also essential that we consider racial justice and equity as part of every decision we make at Metro Government. There is so much we need to do because the promise of our city is still out of reach for far, far too many people. So, starting now, my team will take steps to create broader economic opportunity by making Louisville an easier place for businesses to invest, relocate and expand. We’re going to increase support for small businesses – with a special emphasis on business owners from communities that have historically been excluded from opportunity. Metro Government is eager to partner with and promote entrepreneurs who are Black. Who are women. Veterans. LGBTQ. New Americans. People with disabilities. We believe in all of our city’s entrepreneurs and want to do all we can to help them grow, create jobs and create generational wealth for themselves and their children. And speaking of our children, we’ll also strengthen our city by working to make universal pre-k a reality.
And, of course, for people to take advantage of job and educational opportunities they have to have stable, safe, quality affordable housing. Starting now, my team will build on the existing work to create more housing and employment opportunities all over our city. Because people need them all over our city: In the west. In the east. In the south. In neighborhoods inside the Watterson. And outside the Watterson. Also, one of the things I learned running all those miles during my campaign is that there are people in parts of our city who don’t feel like they are part of our city. We have to change that – starting now. The truth is that as beautifully diverse and distinct as Louisvillians are, fundamentally we all want the same thing: to live in a safer city, a stronger city and a healthier city. And to become a healthier city, we have to adopt a new vision for what it means to be healthy. Because we know that improving health means more than just reducing physical illness. We also have to support people’s mental and emotional health. We must become a leader in urban sustainability by reducing carbon emissions, embracing green technology and striving for cleaner air, water and soil. And becoming a healthier city also means we find new and effective ways to address the homeless crisis – and do this in a way that’s humane to people who are experiencing homelessness.
We all want to live in a city where we have faith the infrastructure will be maintained, potholes filled, sidewalks fixed, trash picked up. Where our great parks and other public spaces are safe, clean and accessible to everyone. I am excited – and energized – by what we can do together to make our city safer, stronger and healthier. And when I say “we” – I mean all of us. Yes, Metro Government plays a critical role in moving our city in a new direction. And so do you. We all have some civic responsibility. So does the business community. And the faith community. The education community. Our philanthropic and non-profit communities. So do our representatives who are serving us on Metro Council, in Frankfort and Washington, DC. Our healthcare workers. Our union workers. Our first responders. Along with our attorneys, activists, athletes, artists. And people of all ages, and in all ZIP Codes all over Louisville. That includes people like me who’ve grown up here as well as new Americans and other folks who’ve just arrived. And moving our city in a new direction means we all have to move forward together for this to work. And as we move ahead together, let’s remember and remind each other why we love this city. Yes, we have challenges. At the same time, Louisville offers us so much to be proud of. Like… our parks: Waterfront Park. Iroquois. Shawnee. The Parklands. Jefferson Memorial Forest! We have bourbon – and bourbonism! We’re one of America’s great sports cities with terrific teams and venues. We’re the home of the greatest two minutes in sports and the man known around the world as The Greatest of All Time. Add to that, we have a fantastic arts and culture scene. Shows. Museums. Concerts. Festivals. Amazing restaurants! And so much more.
And with all that, our greatest asset is really our people. And the fact that whatever neighborhood we live in, we love this city like we love our family. Because Louisville is more than where we are. It’s who we are. And right now, our city needs us. So let’s make Louisville the best city it can be – the city we know it can be. For all our neighborhoods and all our neighbors. And I look forward to visiting folks all over the city again and again, this time as your mayor. I have more listening and learning to do. I also have more running to do. I ran this morning. I do that because there’s just something special about those early morning runs through our city. You start off in the dark. And sometimes maybe you stumble. Maybe you feel sluggish. It happens. And when it does, you just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You hit your stride. And you find your way. And pretty soon, the sun comes up over the horizon. And it’s a new day in Louisville. And there is so much that you can do with a new day. Thank you all for your support, your trust and your partnership. It’s a new day. It’s a new year. It’s a new direction for our city. Let’s get moving – together!