Decision 2022: Meet the candidates in the open District 21 Metro Council race

The current Democratic councilwoman, Nicole George, is not running for re-election. District 21 covers areas surrounding the airport and Expo Center.
Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 7:00 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Three candidates are vying for the open District 21 seat on Louisville Metro Council.

The current Democratic councilwoman, Nicole George, is not running for re-election.

District 21 covers neighborhoods including Beechmont, Iroquois, Southside, and the City of Lynnview. It also covers the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport and the Kentucky Exposition Center.

Now, another Democrat, Betsy Ruhe, is looking to take up the party’s mantle in the district.

She is a retired teacher from Beechmont whose priorities are helping the homeless population, bringing business to Louisville, and getting support for what she calls “neglected corners” of the district.

Her Republican challenger is Stephen Dattilo, a repair technician from the South End. His priorities are bringing in sustainable jobs, increasing security, and education reform.

Also on the ballot is independent John Witt, a veteran and Kentucky Colonel whose priorities are the homeless population, traffic issues, and gaining more recognition for the district.

On the issue of public safety, Ruhe discussed a recent ride-along she did with LMPD. She said police clearly need more help handling situations that are more mental health than crime.

Overall, she said, LMPD also needs more officers for regular patrols–and community visibility.

“Most of the citizens of Louisville are safe, but it sure doesn’t feel that way,” Ruhe said.

Dattilo said police should receive tax exemptions to live in the communities they serve. Also, he would like more trained civilians with guns to respond to criminal situations.

“We could scare criminals quite literally into not wanting to commit the crimes because the chances of them becoming harmed or even losing their own lives becomes higher and higher when the public is properly armed and trained on how to use said firearms,” Dattilo said.

Witt says the metro should look to other cities for successful policy ideas.

“That gives us a chance to undo the mistakes of other areas and not waste time and energy on things that don’t work,” Witt said.

On homelessness and affordable housing, Ruhe said safe housing is the beginning of the solution, possibly starting with expanded Safe Open Space communities. Then, she would like to see the land development code adjusted.

“Make more of these places in the community available for duplexes, four-plexes, and other large apartment complexes,” Ruhe said, “so there is more affordable housing.”

Dattilo said he himself has experienced homelessness in the past. Now, he sees vocational training as a way to help that population.

Plus, he has an idea to bring down housing costs.

“Could we use the booming hemp industry to bring down the cost of lumber?” he asked. “Can we make lumber out of hemp? I’m pretty sure we can make almost everything out of hemp.”

Witt said the city should help the homeless people who want to be helped. He did not offer specific ideas.

“It’s up to the people,” Witt said.

On infrastructure priorities, Ruhe said she wants to make the metro friendlier to transportation beyond cars, specifically mentioning bicycles and buses.

Dattilo said he wants to see less reliance on coal energy, possibly with an investment in an emerging nuclear system called a liquid fluoride thorium reactor.

And Witt said Louisville should focus on maintaining its great water supply.

Election Day is Nov. 8.