John Payne | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

John Payne

District/Office: 
Political party: 
Nonpartisan
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 primary focus of the last two years has been on maintaining and improving the quality of life within our community. During my two years in office, I have worked to support improvements to our parks system, expansion of our sidewalks and shared use pathways. I have joined lobbying in Frankfort for a continuation of the Berea bypass project, money for additional road projects, and a pavilion project.

            I will continue to advocate for continued infrastructure, employment, tourism and quality of life improvements in Berea. I will also stand up for its citizens.

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?

Yes. While I was pleased that a June 2020 US Supreme Court case upholds that federal law protects LGBTQ workers from discrimination, there is still work to be done. The City of Berea nearly passed a fairness ordinance in 2014. Currently 20 cities in Kentucky have passed these ordinances. Berea should be among them.

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?

Local passage of the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act of 1972 (URLTA) would ensure minimum standards in rental housing are met. These standards must already be met by public housing, while other working families may be subject to dubious rental contracts and substandard housing with little legal recourse. Codes enforcement must continue high standards to ensure housing and properties are built up safely and properly.

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.

As a citizen, I supported the discontinuation of the “Rebel Run” and the removal of confederate flag merchandise from our Spoonbread Festival. As a member of council, I will continue to support our Human Rights commission. They are the sounding board for those seeking a voice in our community. I support increasing their budget in upcoming budget amendments and listening to their recommendations. I will continue to be engaged with and support efforts within our police department including diversity training, bias recognition training, training in identification of autism related behaviors and efforts in community outreach.

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?

I support increasing their budget in upcoming budget amendments. As the city begins to recover financially from the pandemic, more money will become available for city business. That business includes the work of the HRC. I support fully restoring their budget in 2022. I support listening to their recommendations and will continue advocate for the HRC and to nominate individuals empathetic to their cause as commission openings become available.

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?

Some improvement has been made in the retrofit/expansion of city hall and the lighting replacements on the US25N road project. I support continued retrofit of lighting and energy efficient equipment in city owned structures as budget allows. I believe we should further expand our solar farm and look at a cost benefit analysis of the hydroelectric dam project Berea College is currently funding. Berea should fund similar power offsets if feasible.

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?

I have made a concerted effort to publicly support face coverings and social distancing in council meetings since March. I have pushed back against efforts to return to close quarters meetings as the pandemic numbers increased. As part of the management team at the public library, our work has been used in setting pandemic policies and procedures throughout the state. We have made great efforts to balance service to the public with a concern for public health. This has included masking rules, cleaning and distancing protocols, curbside and electronic locker services. I have also built plexiglass barriers in both locations and sewn more than 75 cloth masks for coworkers, and community members. The city and community of Berea has had overall an improving response to necessary protocols. Some community members still do not mask up when they should, but their numbers are far smaller than earlier on. Most businesses are enforcing the current mask mandate.

            Like most people, I have greatly reduced my travels, wore face coverings consistently in public spaces, socially distanced and washed my hands often. Several times in recent months, I have contacted business home offices and KYSafer (https://govstatus.egov.com/kysafer) to report a non-compliance business when masking was not taking place.

 

Question 8

Did not respond.

Question 9

Did not respond.