In the aftermath of the Marshall Fire, the City of Louisville rushed to assure fire victims the community was "one" with them but almost two years later, Judi Kern says her city councilmember has yet to get the memo.
"When people are at a moment of their greatest need, you shouldn't have to demand someone's help. And that's all we were doing is saying, 'please help.'"
Kern is among nearly 600 residents, many of them fire survivors, who signed a petition to recall Maxine Most, whose district includes 350 of the 550 homes destroyed in the fire.
Kern's house is one of them. She's running to replace Most, who she says not only supported energy upgrades that would have added tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of rebuilding but initially opposed the use of tax relief for fire victims, telling other councilmembers in emails, "They want us to make decisions based on the level of pain they are experiencing. Why should the community subsidize their increase in personal wealth?"
"We weren't asking the community to subsidize us," says Kern. "We were asking the community, asking the City of Louisville to not charge an additional tax on building materials that is not part of the budget."
Most insists it wasn't tax relief she opposed but rather rebates from the general fund, "I didn't think that municipal taxpayer funds should go to individuals for rebuilding purposes that were going increase their individual equity in homes."
She eventually voted for use tax relief and to waive sprinkler requirements for fire rebuilds, but she says no one should be exempt from the city's new energy code.
"My feeling was the response to a climate-driven disaster shouldn't be to lower the standards. What I believe is we should have found funding so that people who were really under financial duress and didn't have the means to build in the 2021 codes, could," said Most.
Kern says she supports green energy too but not at the expense of homeowners and businesses leaving the city, "My goal is to have a better Louisville, however I need to have that happen. I will continue to volunteer in working to revitalize this community, fight for mitigation measures and improve the safety of our community as a whole."
Most maintains the community has gone above and beyond for fire victims and that she has been misunderstood, "It was never my intention to make people feel like I wasn't trying to help them, but it may have been that the way I was trying to help them wasn't received very well and that's unfortunate and I'm sorry for that, I really am."
Ballots in the recall election are due Oct. 3.
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