Ed LaFontaine

District/Office: 
Political party: 
Nonpartisan
Question 1: 

What are the major issues facing the City of Berea?

Lack of transparency

Lack of expressed vision

Disconnect between the mayor and most of the citizens; this is manifested through a City Council that virtually says yes to everything the mayor wants

Question 2: 

What is your position on future growth and development issues as they affect Berea; including further development of historical districts, tourism, and sustainable “buy local” initiatives?

Berea has marked itself as hard to do business with by failing to follow through on real opportunities for a Krogers, a Lowe's home center and walking away from the table to the offer of a new Civic Center from the state. 

Berea allows property earmarked for industrial development to lie fallow, rather than investing in making it "shovel ready". There have been 6 new factories to locate in Central Kentucky cities this year. Berea must do a better job of preparing and representing itself in order to capture those jobs.

The history of Berea is largely encompassed by Berea College. It is theirs to develop. I would encourage the city to promote that.

Craft tourism peaked several years ago. Old Town reports a decline in buses making stops there. This is a result of both the decline in resident craftspeople and the presence of the Artisan Center. The Artisan Center has proven to be a drain on tourist visits to Old Town. ->Witness the new signs going up around Berea. They promote the Artisan Center. How much did the Artisan Center contribute to the $160,000 cost for the signs? 

NOTHING! Why is it that direction is given to a facility that did not support the effort? We have an effort from Tourism to promote our people which contributes to its demise.

That is wrong.

Efforts to cultivate new artists are being capitalized upon by individuals who are not producing and have no intention to remain in the community as artists. The requirements for participation in this program must be revised.

There are sufficient funds within Tourism to sponsor larger music events. Somerset has the "Master Musicians Festival" which draws thousands of music lovers into their community. That is possible here. I would support that. It would provide our craftspeople with another audience in a fair-like setting.

The Foothills bus contract could have gone to a local transportation vendor. It would have saved us money if it had.

Question 3: 

Are you in favor of the development of pedestrian and bicycle pathways as safe and practical options to motorized transportation in Berea? If so, what projects of this kind would be your priority?

Yes, the paths to outlying areas of our community do not connect within the town or on campus. The paths need to be connected and continuous. It will require cooperation of Berea College to remedy this.

 

Berea provides no facilities for the use of those traveling through. We need to strengthen our claim as a "Trail Town" by providing basic facilities for overnight visitors.

Question 4: 

State and federal laws do not exist that ban discrimination against people in areas of housing, employment and public accommodation based on perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. Knowing that, would you be in favor of passing a fairness ordinance in Berea that would address this type of discrimination? Please explain.

No, The verbiage for that already exists within the charter of the Berea Human Rights Commission. There is no need for duplicity or redundancy in the creation of another regulation.

Question 5: 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in the years of 2010-2014, 19.7% of the residents of Madison County lived below the poverty line. What policies will you support to improve the availability of safe affordable housing and increased economic opportunities for all citizens?

If we improve economic opportunities then more residents of Madison Co. will find affordable housing. The first paragraph of #2 above addresses this.

Question 6: 

What actions or initiatives can the city take to provide help and alternatives to families and people in Berea living with addiction?

I am unable to provide a definitive answer at this time. I want to decrease drug use in our community. I will support efforts to do so.

Question 7: 

What measures do you support to foster good relations between law enforcement officers and our local community?

Mayor Connelly recently added to the divide between police and our community when he refused to participate in a prayer of protection for our police and first responders. This was at a regularly scheduled City Council meeting where he was present. He adjourned the meeting and left before the prayer began.

I have personally spoken to police officers and apologized for his behavior.

I told them all of Berea is not like that.

I thanked the officers for all that they do.

We need a stable police force. We need officers who will call Berea home. Wages and benefits need to be structured to encourage officers to remain here throughout their law enforcement career. Berea would benefit from officers that we know and who know us.

Question 8: 

Last year there was a great deal of controversy around the selling of confederate flag merchandise at the Spoonbread Festival, and Berea students reported being harassed on the basis of race while in town. Given that, what measures do you support to address racial harassment in Berea?

You ask the wrong question.

The controversy at Spoon Bread Festival was the creation of a relatively small group of people.

The protest they orchestrated was more egregious to the community than the availability for sale of any "confederate" items.

The Festival Parade was disrupted. Children were frightened by their actions. The protesters did not have a required permit to be present that day. They were disturbing the peace and were subject to arrest if not for the intervention of our mayor.

Their offenses were greater in scope and scale than any other reported instance of racial harassment over the course of that year.

I do not condone racial harassment.  The incident I know of in town resulted in a minor being arrested and disciplined. Law enforcement did its job.

Question 9: 

Berea is in the midst of making long-term decisions about where and how it gets and manages its wholesale electric power. Beyond safety, reliability and affordability, what considerations should be made with respect to Berea's electric power choices?

The purchase of power on the open market remains the most cost effective method for the purchase of energy. The power purchased will include energy generated by all sources and fuels. "Coal keeps the lights on" is not just a slogan. It is a fact. What is also a fact is that natural gas has made significant gains in being the fuel for the production of energy. I will continue to support the most cost effective source as a provider of Berea's electricity.