Cassie Chambers Armstrong | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Cassie Chambers Armstrong

Political party: 
Democrat
Incumbent: 
No
Question 1: 

What’s your vision for Kentucky? How will the lives of Kentuckians be improved as a result of your time in office? What legislative committees will you request to serve on once elected? 

I’ve spent my career advocating for policies to make my community stronger. I started my career at Legal Aid, representing low-income domestic violence survivors who couldn’t afford an attorney. In that role, I learned what it means to make bureaucracy work for people, and how to answer your cell phone in the middle of the night because someone has a problem that it’s your responsibility to solve. I know what an honor it is for someone to trust you to be their voice in a process.I’ve also advocated for change at a systemic level. I’ve advocated for policies in numerous environments, including in the U.S. Senate and the Kentucky General Assembly. I helped pass Jeanette’s Law--which made it so that domestic violence survivors no longer had to pay the legal fees of their incarcerated spouses. I’ve worked on legal cases to ensure low-income Kentuckians have equal access to expungements.I want to use my experience in advocacy and policy to make District 8 clean, green, vibrant, and inclusive. I also want to find ways for our district to meaningfully engage with other districts to address to big issues facing our city, like systemic racism, disparities, and poverty.

Question 2: 

Even after Governor Beshear's December 2019 executive order that restored voting rights to 152,000 Kentuckians with felonies in their past, over 170,000 Kentuckians are still ineligible to vote. Do you support a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights to all Kentuckians with felonies in their past once they've served their time, probation, and parole? Why or why not?

It is incumbent on all of us to address racial inequality in our city. That means a lot of things. It means advocating for real and significant policing reforms, including reviewing our use of force policies. It means supporting increased oversight and accountability, including through a citizen's review board with subpoena power. It means re-imagining what policing looks like in our city and how we allocate resources.Change doesn’t stop there. We also must advocate for policies to address the effects of structural and systemic racism through things like policies that promote affordable housing, equal access to justice, and increased educational opportunities. It also means offering residents in District 8 tangible ways to be involved in systemic change.The attitude with which we approach this work is important. I believe that communities most affected by issues have the best knowledge of how to solve them. I don't want to ever "swoop in" to another district and purport to fully understand the challenges they are facing. Instead, I want to listen and learn from residents all over the city, hear their ideas for making their community better, and find meaningful ways for District 8 to partner with them to make those ideas a reality.

Question 3: 

During the 2020 primary, Kentuckians voted in record numbers as a result of mail-in absentee voting and early voting. But we can improve on what we learned in the primary and make voting more accessible for all Kentuckians. What is your view on modernizing state election laws? Specifically, do you support allowing early voting, mail-in ballots, same-day voter registration, extended hours at polling locations, offering ballots in multiple languages, and other election reforms? Would you uphold or work to repeal Senate Bill 2, which makes it harder for voters who don't have particular kinds of photo ID to vote, knowing that many Kentuckians do not have – and face barriers to obtaining – those forms of ID?

It is important that all of our decisions in Metro Government take racial equity into account. I believe that we should require our policy decisionmaking process to include analysis from the Racial Equity Tool so that our various departments can understand the impact of their decisions. I also think it's important that the public have access to this information, and I would support making all racial equity analyses public for that reason.

Question 4: 

Even before COVID, Kentucky’s tax code did not raise enough revenue to meet the Commonwealth’s needs. We’ve reached dangerous levels of disinvestment in pensions, public education, infrastructure, and other essential programs. While there may be federal aid to buffer some of those impacts, we still need our own sustainable, long-term revenue solutions. What would you do to create a more equitable state tax structure – where everyone pays their fair share – that raises adequate revenue, fights poverty, and invests in Kentucky’s under-resourced communities and the services we all need?

I believe that we need to re-imagine what policing looks like in our community. Many situations that we routinely deploy police to address--such as those that involve people experiencing homelessness, people with addiction issues, and people with mental health conditions--could be better addressed by individuals with a background in social work or other specialized training. In this way I believe we could improve public safety by having individuals with unique skills respond to situations that are best handled by those professionals.

Question 5: 

Many undocumented and mixed immigration status families here in Kentucky do not have access to government aid, stimulus payments, and other resources offered during this pandemic, while they’re simultaneously more likely to be essential workers and are at the highest risk for COVID-19 infection. What would you do to expand support and resources to Kentucky’s immigrant families, undocumented or otherwise, in the time of a global pandemic and beyond?

Cash bail is based on the idea that people are more likely to show up for court if they have money on the line. Yet evidence suggests that cash bail does not increase the likelihood that an individual shows up for court hearings. In cities like Washington DC where they have reduced the reliance on cash bail, most defendants still show up for their court dates.On the flip side, cash bail often disproportionately impacts low-income individuals, who cannot afford to pay it. These individuals—who have not been found guilty of any crime—must often sit in jail for months, or even years, awaiting trial while wealthier individuals can buy their way out. This is Increasingly, cities and states are looking to use risk-assessment systems to replace cash bail. These systems may actually increase public safety, as they ensure higher-risk individuals cannot simply buy their way out of prison. I would favor Louisville exploring some of these alternatives to cash bail and moving forward with implementing such an alternative.

Question 6: 

Is acting to address the climate crisis a priority for you? What policies do you support to ensure that solutions – such as clean energy jobs and reducing high energy bills – benefit all Kentuckians, including low-income communities, communities of color, and those who are most impacted by the changing climate? And what policies would you support to ensure that all Kentuckians have clean air and water, no matter the color of our skin, income, or zip code?

I support citizen engagement in the budgeting process. In District 8, I would follow the lead of Councilman Coan and use a participatory budgeting process to allocate a large portion of the District 8 discretionary funds. At a city level, I am committed to making sure that we fund programs to promote equity and reduce disparity. I believe that re-imagining an redefining what policing looks like in our city (see answer above) could free up funds that we could invest into things like ensuring an equitable built environment, affordable housing, and more.            As our pension obligations continue to increase, it will be more difficult to fund these services. While I do believe that we can achieve some savings by looking critically at our current budget, it is likely that we will need to raise new revenue at some point to be the compassionate city we aspire to be. I favor doing this in the least regressive way possible, and we will have to think about what timing makes sense as we come out of this pandemic and its economic effects. I’m committed to working with the Louisville delegation to the Kentucky General Assembly to explore legislation that makes sense for the city.

Question 7: 

Kentuckians from across the state are coming together to say Black Lives Matter and to demand that all Kentuckians can move through our communities without fearing for our lives or our loved ones. What is the role of the Kentucky legislature in opposing white supremacy, addressing racial inequality and supporting racial justice for Black people, Indigenous people, and all people of color in our state? Please identify at least two policy initiatives you would propose while in office to address racial and systemic inequalities.

Climate change is having and will continue to have a real tangible impact on our Louisville community. Because of the climate crisis, we have recently had three of the largest rainfall years since we began recording data. This is particularly challenging for Louisville as a river city. Additionally, our expanding heat island—which is particularly harmful to vulnerable populations--is exacerbated by rising temperatures.            The devastating impacts of the climate crisis are why I support initiatives to make District 8 cleaner and greener. I support increased recycling, increased public/shared/alternative transportation, green building incentives, increased greening of public spaces, density of development, promoting walkability, protecting our public green spaces, and other policies that will help combat the climate crisis.

Question 8: 

Kentucky has the ninth highest incarceration rate in the nation, is second for incarcerating women, and has the second-highest rate of children separated from a parent due to incarceration. In addition, Black Kentuckians face disproportionate arrest, conviction, and incarceration, and a heightened risk of police brutality. And people in many parts of our state face racial profiling, intimidation and unjust detainment and detention by federal and local authorities due to immigration status or perceived status. Many Kentuckians are calling for various measures to stem the tide of racialized criminalization, police brutality, mass incarceration, and detention and deportation – from police reform, to increased community investment, to a complete defunding and abolition of the police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). If elected, what will you do to make strides toward ending mass incarceration in Kentucky and reinvesting resources into the communities most impacted by this system?

During law school, I spent time working with an anti-displacement group in the city of Boston. This group used legal systems to advocate for affordable housing and fight against predatory evictions and foreclosures. This background has instilled in me the importance of ensuring that every member of our community has safe, affordable housing.            This is an ongoing challenge in Louisville, as estimates indicate we are 30,000 units short of housing that is affordable for those in the lowest income bracket. As a Metro Council member, I will support efforts to expand affordable housing, including working to identify a dedicated recurring revenue stream to fully fund the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. I also understand the importance of protecting tenants, and I would support tenants' rights ordinances such as a clean hands housing ordinance. Finally, given the current pandemic, it is crucially important we ensure no one is evicted from his or her home during this time.

Question 9: 

Do you support a statewide Fairness law to protect LGBTQ people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer) from discrimination in housing, employment, financial transactions, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity? Do you support a statewide ban on the practice of LGBTQ conversion therapy, which would protect Kentucky youth from a harmful and medically discredited practice?

I am fully committed to providing resources and support for our immigrant population, including undocumented individuals, in Louisville. These communities add incredible value to our city, and we should make sure that we are celebrating and supporting them. One way to do this is to fund great organizations such as Catholic Charities and Kentucky Refugee Ministries. We can also make sure that we are funding the city’s Office for Globalization, which works to enhance multiculturalism in our city. Similarly, I believe in keeping Louisville a compassionate, welcoming city. That is why I am interested in learning more about ways that we could strengthen or expand the current ordinance that governs the relationship between ICE and the city to make sure that we are protecting undocumented Kentuckians.

Question 10: 

Nearly 400,000 low-income Kentuckians qualified for health care – including vision, dental and mental health – for the first time under the Affordable Care Act. But major challenges remain, and many are exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. What would you do to make sure Kentuckians can get and stay healthy? What are your health-related legislative priorities? 

Answer 10: 

As a city, we need to invest in a more robust social infrastructure to support our most vulnerable residents, including people who are undocumented and others who will not receive Covid-19 stimulus payments. One challenge is that much of the aid we have received so far is federal dollars, which carry limitations around what we can use the aid for and who we can support with it. With that in mind it will be particularly important that we use our unrestricted dollars to help those in need who do not qualify for the federal funding. We can also support the organizations in our city that provide services to people who are undocumented (like Catholic Charities and Kentucky Refugee Ministries) to ensure these organizations have the funding they need to provide these services. In terms of addressing the disproportionate economic and health impacts of the pandemic on poor people and communities of color, it is essential that our city invest resources to address these issues. Many of the disproportionate health impacts stem from underlying disparities in access to to things like public green spaces, housing, and more. It is imperative that we address these deep rooted inequities.