Amy Asher | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Amy Asher

Political party: 
Question 1: 

What is your vision for Berea? How will the lives of the people in our community be improved as a result of your time in office?

My vision for Berea is one of progress into the 21st century for everyone; no citizen should be overlooked or ignored. A thriving community focused on growing families, students, healthy neighborhoods, and modern economic growth. I’d love to see pocket parks in our smaller neighborhoods, walkable sidewalks, focused eco-tourism, and a closer partnership with Berea College.

Question 2: 

There is still no state law expressly prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. While the Supreme Court ruled Title VII's sex discrimination protections apply to LGBTQ+ people (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Queer) in the workplace, housing and public accommodations protections do not exist for LGBTQ+ Kentuckians at the state or federal level. Many neighboring cities have passed a Human Rights Ordinance that includes these protections for LGBTQ+, often referred to as Fairness Ordinances. Do you support the passage of a Fairness Ordinance in Berea? Why or Why not?

As the parent of a LQBTQ+ child, I wholeheartedly support a Fairness Ordinance in Berea. Discrimination happens, right here in Berea, by restaurants and businesses that you know and love. Currently there is no effective recourse for those who have been discriminated against. The Fairness Ordinance needs to be an accepted part of life in Berea.

Question 3: 

Many people are moving to Berea for new opportunities, and as our community grows, we need to work to make sure that housing opportunities fit the needs of everyone who calls our city home. These housing needs are especially pressing in the current pandemic crisis, which is causing many people to fall behind on their rent and will likely increase the need for affordable housing, rental assistance, and services and support for people who lose their housing. What do you believe the city can and should do to make sure we have safe, fair, and affordable housing in Berea?

We need more housing in Berea, but at the same time we need to hold the housing authorities to a high standard for providing safe and affordable housing to our citizens. Berea needs to pass a Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act, which clarifies and codifies the legal duties of landlords and tenants entering into residential lease agreements; balances the property rights of landlords with the health, safety, and privacy rights of tenants; provides legal standards for management and return of security deposits; and documentation of why security deposits are not fully refunded. Berea needs to provide safe, clean, and affordable housing for everyone, in order to create the community we hope to become in the future.

Question 4: 

What is the role of the Berea City Council in opposing white supremacy, addressing racial inequality and supporting racial justice for Black people, Indigenous people, Latinx people, immigrants, those who are undocumented, and all people of color in our city? Please identify at least two policy initiatives you would propose while in office to address racial and systemic inequalities.

I would suggest Berea create a Racial Equity Plan, plans which provide a blueprint of the city’s intentions to improve outcomes for people of color by outlining citywide goals and specific department strategies for accomplishing those goals. A REP would give community members and stakeholders the means to hold their government accountable and benchmarks from which to build trust. I would also suggest creating the position of Chief Equity Officer. An equity officer is a person who can focus on identifying disparities in community programs and services and help create ways for departments to address those gaps. It is clear that a portion of our current city council members are either silent or complicit when it comes to racism in social media, online, or face to face. Also, claiming racism doesn’t happen here in Berea because they’ve not experienced it doesn’t make it true. It happens. We must be vocal in our disgust with such behavior and publicly and courageously support those who have been harmed.

Question 5: 

In June, the Berea City Council approved a city budget for 2021 which reduced funding for the Berea Human Rights Commission to $500. Do you support restoring full funding for the Human Rights Commission?  What other specific ways do you plan to support the work of the Human Rights Commission?

Yes, the Berea Human Rights Commision needs to be fully funded. This goes hand in hand with the Fairness Ordinance. We need the commission to make periodic public reports and recommendations to the City Council and City Administrator on ways to improve city government programs and ordinances designed to eliminate discrimination or to remove the effects of past discrimination. The commission should educate city leaders about the human rights ordinance, other commission initiatives, and work toward social equity; eliminating and discouraging racial tension, prejudice, and discrimination.

Question 6: 

In 2015, Berea included the Berea Energy Costs Savings Plan (BECS) in the city’s comprehensive plan. The plan estimates potential savings of $639 per household per year. However, a majority of the plan’s energy savings recommendations have yet to be implemented (street light upgrades, utility peak load reduction, distributed energy feasibility, solar farm leasing program expansion, etc.). If elected, what will you do to implement the BECS recommendations?

In Berea we are known for keeping our own counsel and having our own identity as an educated community. In order to remain true to ourselves and our community, now and in the future, we must continually work toward becoming as self-sufficient as possible. Creating and maintaining our own high-speed, city-wide Internet network, is one recommendation I would make as an example. Creating a sustainable energy plan for our citizens is yet another avenue we need to expand in order to maintain our own identity as a community. The BECSP should be reviewed and improved for the benefit of all citizens. For example, during the implementation of the solar shares project several years ago, utility users were given the option to sign up for solar energy. This had little appeal to renters, as they would never have seen the savings over time necessary to join and supplement the program. We need more egalitarian programs and procedures available to everyone.

Question 7: 

We are currently experiencing a global pandemic, which has brought up a need for social distancing, more effective utilization of public space, and mask mandates both locally and statewide. How will you work with the local health department and other entities to encourage compliance with state mask and social distancing mandates? What actions should our city and members of the city council take to slow the spread of this disease in our community?  How would you evaluate the city’s response to COVID-19?  Have you been involved in responding to the virus?  If so, please explain?

First, has there been an identifiable response by the city? If so, it was poorly advertised. We recently acquired drive-through utility bill payments, and the city has dropped an antiquated online fee for online payments, but that is not the level of response necessary during a pandemic. Most of the actions, if indeed they can be called such, have been a passive modeling based on our other local institutions. Berea seems to have chosen an early attitude of ‘wait and see’ to avoid any political fallout from some council member's constituents; an attitude which continues even now that we know the urgency of action. This is not the leadership we need during a time of crisis. Having council members complain about the necessity of online meetings seems to be emblematic of the lack of leadership in our current government.

Question 8

Did not respond.

Question 9

Did not respond.