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Mayoral candidates address questions, concerns from west Louisville residents

The Shawnee Neighborhood Association hosted a forum, where the community asked candidates what they'd do to address safety and investment in the west end.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville's mayoral election sits weeks away, and Tuesday night candidates discussed their plans to make improvements specifically in the city's west end.

The Shawnee Neighborhood Association hosted a forum inside the Portland Memorial Missionary Baptist Church, where people asked candidates how they'd address safety concerns, affordable housing and investment in west Louisville -- and how they'd handle policing.

Democrat Craig Greenberg and Republican Bill Dieruf answered questions directly submitted from folks in the community -- including Louisville activist and neighborhood association member Rhonda Mathies.

"We want to see what they say off the cuff -- how they are going to respond to what our needs are," she said.

The candidates discussed the city's biggest issues. Concerns over spiking violence came first, asking how each candidate would address it.

Dieruf focused on his plans for community policing.

"We have to stop putting the wrong people in jail. We have to stop pulling the young black male over because his blinker is not going -- that's not the proper policing," Dieruf said.

Meanwhile, Greenberg zeroed in on his proposal to disable stolen guns confiscated by LMPD before sending them to state police to auction them off, in order to keep them off the street.

"No gun that's used to commit a crime should ever find its way again on the streets to be used to commit a crime again. That's absurd and dangerous," Greenberg said.

Both were asked how they'd prioritize hiring the right cops and hold them accountable if they don't meet the standard.

"We need to empower the Civilian Review Board to do its job and the police department needs to turn over records when its requested of them, and not keep hiding information," Greenberg said.

Dieruf shared his perspective, saying fired officers shouldn't be allowed to go get jobs at other local and state police departments.

"You should lose your certification. You shouldn't go to another department in another part of the state or come here," he said.

Community leaders also brought up ongoing frustrations over the west end tax increment financing (TIF) district, asking how candidates would encourage investment while also combating gentrification.

"We have to make sure the residents have the ability to get the money to build the houses, to remodel the houses," Dieruf said.

Greenberg talked about the difficulties renters face in the area.

"[The TIF] needs better protections for renters," Greenberg said. "Right now, there are negligent landlords all across west Louisville who are providing too expensive and substandard housing."

WHAS11 asked voters themselves about what kinds of changes they're looking for.

"We want to make sure our renters will be safe from being priced out of their homes," said Ericka Seward, president of the Shawnee Neighborhood Association.

Ultimately, folks in attendance say improving the overall community doesn't happen without bettering west Louisville first and foremost. 

"What are they going to do for Black people? I want it blunt. Put Black people a step ahead rather than a step back," said Zhi'Yon Bullard, a freshman at the University of Louisville.

Organizers told WHAS11 the meeting was as much about educating as it was about discussion -- letting voters know the options they have on their ballots come Nov. 8.

Three mayoral candidates running as independents were also in attendance.

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