Hopkinsville is a vibrant, culturally-wealthy community with much to offer; unfortunately, our historic areas and many of our neighborhoods do not adequately reflect this truth. There are two main obstacles I see to this: first, those who have allowed their properties to lie in disrepair without facing the appropriate consequences, and secondly, the large number of neighborhoods with no sense of personal pride in where they live. I believe these both can be solved utilizing tools already available to the City of Hopkinsville. On the same note, I don’t believe adding a program like URLTA is best because it would hurt low income families that need housing. I believe we first must commit to the enforcement of the regulations already in place in regards to code violations. If a property owner does not wish to do their part, then the City should move on behalf of the community to ensure they are held accountable. Secondly, we have the means to work with the members of our various neighborhoods in Hopkinsville to free them to improve their surroundings. This means less difficulty for those who are seeking to repair some of the historic buildings, allowing them to keep a building viable for generations to come without months of red tape and hurdles. We need to understand that a majority of landlords are good and do things properly, and the handful that don’t are not the standard but need to be held accountable to the regulations already in place. I would encourage the real estate investors with programs like the “lot next door,” but I would remove the parameters for who qualifies. This would enable investors who truly desire to improve the area to capitalize on their investments and prioritize not just communities in need, but ones that are in need and showing the initiative to take ownership of their surroundings through clean up and maintenance. We don’t need to increase our funding, we need to enforce the codes in place and reward the devoted; in this way, we can reverse the looks that improperly represents the spirit of our city. This is why I want to simultaneously create a program of recognition for well-maintained homes throughout our city. I believe we must not only address worn-down areas, but also create a new culture that promotes the positive. As your Mayor, I will bring the type of leadership that fosters innovation, good ideas, and strong commitment to help promote, report, give updates, and change the culture as we work to make life worth living in Hoptown.
I think the first step in addressing housing issues in Hopkinsville is to acknowledge that the local government can only do so much. I would also like to echo what I said at *The League of Women Voters* forum a few weeks ago, “I wouldn’t say we have a housing shortage.” I also said, “I believe Hopkinsville will see over the next 10 years—our city is going to experience a lot of overflow [growth] from Oak Grove, Clarksville and surrounding areas.” Currently, Clarksville is practically at max capacity, and that’s causing a lot of Clarksville realtors to bring their buyers up here. To put it in simple terms, as one realtor told me, “They attack any house like a pack of hungry wolves.” Building houses is not the city’s jurisdiction. But as your Mayor, I will guarantee an open invitation to all developers. I'm in no one’s back pocket. I’ve come to represent, work, and serve the good people of our community. I do think it could be a “win/win* for the city to take some of the dilapidated, abandoned local properties with a long list of city liens and foreclose on them, then sell cheaply or even give the properties to local investors who have a history of building improvements with integrity with the agreement that they will use the land for affordable housing for X amount of years, sort of like the “Lot Next Door” Program. That would help solve the problem of all of the abandoned, unlivable houses and empty lots in our town while providing additional homes for lower income residents and alleviate some of our current `growing pains' while more homes are being built by multiple construction businesses. Again, my outlook on every problem our city faces is to surround myself with people who roll up their sleeves and say, “Let’s find solutions!'' and not those who say, “It can’t be done.” Because, as your Mayor I will continue to bring "outside the box" thinking and work to compel our City Hall staff to connect with their wards to continue to research and discover viable outside companies and organizations to assist in creating more housing opportunities. I believe every issue our city faces can be solved by all of us working together.
All of the previous issues of property degradation, community vitality, racial disparities, and homelessness–all of these intersect when it comes to the development and growth of our local economy. To grow will certainly require some contribution at the civic level – not of tax dollars or tax breaks, but of a commitment to ensuring all members of the community are invested, doing their fair share of the work. Developing a coalition of nonprofit agencies and churches that serve our diverse community will help with identifying and serving the needs in a more efficient and cost-effective way. At the same time, it will also require individual citizens to create jobs, work jobs, and get behind the needs of the whole. I want to reintroduce the "Mayor Unity and Prayer Breakfast" with a fresh focus and even greater understanding of all of our roles for the city we all want to see move forward. As Mayor, it will be my focus to facilitate conversations between the parties, but to also lead the charge of what it looks like when government, businesses, nonprofits, and churches are working together to make life worth living in Hoptown. Lastly, I will work with organizations to bring the right type of jobs into our area. The government owes it to the people to be involved, and the people owe it to the government to be involved. It’s time we spend less time pointing fingers or picking sides and get to work being involved in the solution for job creation, business sustainment, and economic growth for Hopkinsville.
Let me be clear that I believe one of our community’s greatest attributes is our attention and care for others. Numerous groups, churches, and non-profits do a great job of providing assistance to those in need. I also firmly believe that mercy pushed to the extreme produces enabling. If we are going to truly help people without enabling and prolonging the problem, then we are going to have to do several things: We need to demagnetize the draw to our community through a multi-pronged approach. As Mayor, I will reach out to the organizations in other cities and ask them to stop sending people into our community with one-way bus tickets. Also, I will appeal to our mental health hospital to come up with a better follow-up plan when people are discharged from their care. In talking with organizations that work closely with the homeless across our community, I have been encouraged to learn that this issue is not beyond our ability to solve. Another way to demagnetize the draw is to create a new “word on the street” that gets passed around the panhandling community. That word needs to be: “You can’t make money panhandling in Hopkinsville.” This all may sound like the opposite of mercy, but the truth is we need to promote hand-up approaches for long-term success in a person’s life rather than a temporary hand-out enabling lifestyle. The only way we can get better is by working better together! It’s why I would like to see a citywide implementation of a program called Charity Tracker. Coordinating efforts and strategically partnering with specific charity groups, churches, and nonprofits that care for those in need, will help us better direct resources and identify those truly without those trying to abuse people's generosity. In this way, we could recognize the important work already being done, and amplify the results to better the outcomes for everyone involved. I believe these steps, along with other ideas our City Council has been entertaining, will over time begin to reduce our homelessness while helping elevate individuals with dignity and a new sense of purpose. As a Pastor in this city, I understand the importance of helping those that are struggling, and our church body lives out the strategy of parting with groups already doing the most good to strengthen their efforts rather than doing our own program with limited success.
We have a fantastic melting pot of culture in Hopkinsville that I love raising my family in! Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Immigrant: all of these communities bring distinctive flavors to what it means to call Hopkinsville their home. Variety truly is the spice of life! As a person who has spent a large amount of time traveling the world from Mexico to Peru, Egypt, France, Guatemala, the Philippines, Canada, and more (and I’m not talking about “It’s a Small World” at Disney), I bring to the discussion a more well-rounded worldview on this subject. What I see happening here in Hopkinsville is well-meaning attempts to create a bridge meant to unite but often actually end up causing more division. Too often, politicians propose some new program to resolve a problem, rather than invest in the systems already in place. We don’t need a new bridge, we need to support the bridges we already have in our community. This beautiful culture we already have in our schools, in our places of work and business, and in some churches–it’s what I've been showcasing through social media and public venues. The Alhambra, our Historic Downtown, the Boys and Girls Club, and other groups do a great job in creating space for the diversity of our city to come together. I’m passionate about the Food Truck industry; because it's not just about helping businesses but also creating a culture that truly brings people together from all walks of life. What better way to gather a diverse group of people around food? That is a win/win for our community, and those are bridges that I will continue to build up. I’m the only candidate who is simply not talking about what needs to be done, I’m already doing it. I will echo what I said at the League of Women Voters forum that I believe what needs to be done is less talk about our differences and more focus on our strengths, and as your Mayor, I will continue to lead the charge in seeing the beauty of all God’s creation living in love and unity in our city. It's one of the amazing things I already facilitate through the Facebook Group called, TEAMHOPTOWN. You can catch a glimpse of some of my core values by going to: https://hoptownstrong.com/core-values/
I want to first point out that we must address two looming factors: first, building owners who do not acknowledge the consequences of their inaction, and secondly, the hurdles for owners who face difficulty in being able to exercise action. Our solution to repairing the image of our city heritage needs to address both those issues. In the current economy and business environment, we need to be strategic in order to fill our Historic Downtown with shops and businesses that reflect the ingenuity and imagination of our community. Our largest hurdle is property owners who refuse to get their buildings ready and usable. There are two options before us: develop or decay. Unfortunately, it’s obvious which has been allowed to be chosen for far too long, and our citizens deserve better. Our city needs better. We need to remove the obstacles that prevent some of our citizens from developing what they have. As your Mayor, I will work hard toward empowering the entrepreneurs because I believe ultimately they are the best solution to encourage existing and new businesses. We empower by fully exploring our options as local government. There is no reason we should stand in the way of people who wish to invest their money and time in maintaining the historical structures that represent our heritage. Several programs already exist at the state and federal level to assist with the preservation of historic buildings; now, we need to work at the city level to clear the road to such paths for our citizens, so that they can continue to tell the story of our history for generations to come. I also will champion private businesses and nonprofit to come alongside this endeavor: locals investing in local areas–whether it be murals downtown or other ideas our citizens bring to the table. It’s going to take an entire community that is passionate about our downtown, not just the few who are already committed. It’s not an easy process, but it can be done and needs to be done without additional financial burden to our city. As your Mayor, I will work hand-in-hand with organizations and groups who are ready to work together and implore others to join in this massive undertaking. I have already started this process as an individual and I look forward to taking it citywide with your help as we work together to truly make life worth living in Hoptown.
An issue that’s extremely important to me and very dear to my heart is the subject of the next generation. I’m very passionate about the youth of our city. There’s a well-known phrase in fact Whitney Houston's song, “greatest love” she pours out the lyrics that say “I believe the children are the future” and while I certainly understand the sentiment that she’s trying to communicate–-it’s not the best statement for today. I believe they are the now. This generation needs our attention and dedication now and I want our teens to know that they have a voice. My ears are wide open to their views, ideas, and concerns. As mayor, I want to re-institute the mayor's youth council and continue what I’ve already been doing behind the scenes–- looking for ways and avenues for the youth of our city to enjoy life here as well. While we have some great areas and programs to offer, we need to be doing more. I believe I can bring fresh ideas to the discussion when it comes to meeting their needs and coming up with more partnership programs with our many churches across this city that I believe all have invested hearts towards our youth. I have a proven track record of investing in this generation and I want you to know that as your next mayor that we can turn the hearts of our youth towards the future of our city by investing in them now. We have empty buildings, we have passionate people, we have groups that specialize in this area– It's time to put our best foot forward by working together in coming up with ways that teens throughout the entire city can benefit from what our town has to offer.