LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – The historic race for Louisville Metro Mayor appears to be a neck and neck battle between republican Hal Heiner and democrat Greg Fischer, but independent candidate Jackie Green says there is no difference between those two candidates and that he offers a real choice.
Green doesn't have a paid staff and he's not planning an onslaught of television ads, but he has injected himself into as much of the mayoral race as he has been allowed. He calls it "asymmetrical warfare without the capital or political machine" that the others have. It is a political road less traveled.
"I haven't had a car since 1999," Green said, saying he made intentional choices "where I moved, worked and very intentional in a car free lifestyle." The bicycle shop and bike courier service owner says he opened those businesses downtown when no one else would and he says when no one else with his priorities filed to run for mayor, he entered the race. "The reason I am doing this is because the platforms presented to the public by the other candidates are simply unacceptable," Green continued. "There are probably many people who are better equipped to run for office," Green admitted, "but nobody else stepped up to the plate with these priorities."
He is the 'green' candidate, arguing for more public transit before building bridges, and that the road building strategy in place for the last sixty years has neglected "our public transit and our passenger rail between cities. It's time to stop that."
"Energy is not going to remain inexpensive and plentiful as we have known it for the past 60 years," Green contended, saying Louisville's current model projects that residents will pay "more dollars out of Louisville to pay for oil."
Green also rallies against coal. "LG&E is a dinosaur," Green said, explaining that, in his opinion, Eon U.S. is selling the utility because LG&E's electricity is generated by coal rather than alternative and renewable energy sources. Green want the money used now invested in burning coal cleaner for solar panels. "Make those solar panels here in Louisville. That's jobs," Green said, "Then install those solar panels on the roofs of our homes and businesses. Those are more jobs. And the dollars we save not having to buy coal we can reinvest in our community rather than have those dollars leaving our local economy."
He's riding against the wind. Despite campaigning for months and a flock of devoted volunteers, Green only registered 2% support in this month's WHAS11 Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll, a telephone survey which Green says does not include many of his supporters: people who don't have landlines. "I think you would find that we are much closer to 33.4%, which is all it's going to take to win this race," Green said.
Green often campaigns to a captive audience, TARC bus riders. Stashing his bicycle on a TARC bus eastbound on Muhammad Ali Boulevard, Green climbed aboard Tuesday morning armed with campaign fliers and a message. "Jackie Green," he said, extending his hand, "I'm running for mayor as an independent. I'm the only candidate supporting public transit as a higher priority than two bridges."
Green wants to stop building roads in the East End which he says enable more development. "When that development destroys farms and fields out there and hurts the existing neighborhoods," Green said to the bus riders, "it takes infrastructure, investment and services away from the neighborhoods that we live in.
"We need to begin developing and reclaiming our existing neighborhoods that are suffering," Green said in an interview, "’brownfield development’ is the term. You go in you take an existing industrial site, you put it back into use. You go back into your blighted neighborhoods, and you improve those neighborhoods."
And, Green contends, the improvement of neighborhoods also clears the way for neighborhood schools that will lead to more parental involvement and higher participation in after school programs. He is opposed to the Jefferson County Public Schools student assignment plan and calls for a three radial block pedestrian zone around schools to encourage children to walk to school, safely. "Reclaiming those abandoned houses around low performing schools, focusing investment in that area, strengthening those communities, and then using some of those transportation dollars that JCPS is currently using in their student assignment plan, use those transportation dollars to benefit education," Green said, "By that, I mean, hire teachers."
"We're putting the burden of diversity on the shoulders of our children," Green continued, "Affordable housing should be distributed all over the county. That makes every community in our county diverse."
Green stresses that his campaign is not an urban vs. suburban divide, explaining that he does not want to remove any existing suburban neighborhoods, but that the people who moved there often want to maintain the rural qualities that attracted them to suburbs in the first place. In addition, Green says the preservation of local farmland is essential to the local food economy. "It's time to stand up. We need to change the direction of this city – 40 or 50 years headed in a direction that's unsustainable."
It is a largely receptive group of bus riders on this commute, though one elderly man tells Fischer, "You're wasting your time."
"Tell me why," Green taking a seat next to the man.
"Fischer's going to get it."
"Fischer?" Green responds incredulously, "Fischer's weak."
It is an unlikely path to the mayor's office, but the Jackie Green bus tour is undeterred. Two other independent mayoral candidates are also on the ballot, but neither Jerry Mills nor Nimbus Couzin appear to be actively campaigning.