What Lexington Needs: Opportunity, by Councilmember Hannah LeGris

What Lexington Needs: Opportunity, by Councilmember Hannah LeGris

Photo by Megan McCardwell

Over the past three decades, Ace has invited the incoming Mayor and Council to contribute an essay to our “What Lexington Needs” space that began as an Ace tradition in the 80s.

What Lexington Needs: Opportunity
By incoming 3rd District Councilmember Hannah LeGris

Lexington is a community of amazing, resilient people and I am honored to serve as the new councilmember for the 3rd District. At this moment we remain in the midst of a crisis, one that has exposed the shortcomings of our nation and our way of life. Right now, city leaders must commit to swift action with meaningful outcomes to address inequities within our communities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has tested our health and livelihoods and our sense of normalcy. It has shown the need for more comprehensive healthcare, better support for our families, the importance of local businesses and entrepreneurship. Government can no longer pretend that the issues of racial justice and equity aren’t an immediate concern; we must create policies that right the wrongs towards those who have been marginalized by discriminatory practices. Far beyond this pandemic, we must affirm our commitment to centering people as the focus of public service.

Ultimately, what Lexington needs is more opportunity. More opportunity for its residents, and different opportunities than before. There are many areas where our city excels, and others where we can do better. Racial justice, climate justice, economic justice, and housing justice are not separate issues – they are part of a connected system wherein politics, the economy, and nature are intertwined. By committing ourselves to more opportunity, more accountability, more justice, and more community-oriented policy, we can build structures that protect and empower our most vulnerable and marginalized residents, thereby enriching Lexington as a whole.

Furthering these goals requires creativity, community support, long- and short-term planning, and a commitment to discomfort and uncertainty during the process of shifting our norms. It requires that we change the culture of our institutions and create new standards of accountability, with the ultimate goal of making things better for a wider range of people within our city…

With public support, council and the mayor can deliver real solutions for the people of Lexington. We can’t erase the hardships of the past year, but we can work hard to ensure a brighter, vibrant, more just community that recognizes its history, rights the wrongs, and plans for the future. It’s time to get to work.

Hannah LeGris currently works as a career counselor at UK. The 3rd District includes much of downtown and many of the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Kentucky.

This essay appears on page 10 of the January 2021 print edition of ace magazine.

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