By Bill Robinson
Laura Durham Morgan, who got the most votes in the non-partisan May primary for city commission, is seeking her first term on Richmond’s governing body.
For the past 22 years, she has been the owner operator of the College Station convenience store at the corner of Barnes Mill Road and Lancaster Avenue.
Morgan submitted a written response to the questions the Richmond Register posed to the eight candidates.
Questions and answers begin inside
The Parks and Recreation Department took the biggest funding cut in the 2012-13 budget. After the city finished the 2011-12 fiscal year with a surplus of more than $3 million, should some funding be restored to parks and recreation?
Through the Parks and Recreation Department, numerous programs have been implemented that directly benefit the citizens of Richmond and Madison County. We have one of the best parks systems in the state, and we need to make the commitment to continue adequate funding for it.
In addition to programs, the staff takes care of the maintenance of all the grounds. The department has a high standard for the appearance of the grounds to make them attractive to the citizens. It is vitally important for Richmond to offer programs, activities and space to meet the needs of our citizens. This will also be an incentive for people, businesses and industries to locate here. Recreation is an important part of our quality of life.
The number of Richmond firefighters recently fell to 52, two below budgeted strength. Do you think the city can provide adequate fire protection with that number?
Public safety is the chief responsibility of any city. The citizens want and deserve the highest level of protection. Fire and police protection should be the top priority of city government. I would want to sit down with fire department leadership and also professionals from EKU and discuss our fire protection needs. A plan can then be developed that will provide for a level of service commensurate with our population and growth. This plan would include staffing, equipment and facilities.
How should the city resolve its storm-water issues? Would you favor a storm-water fee to fund improvements?
Richmond does have storm-water drainage problems. But this is not unique to Richmond.
Good strides made in recent years with storm-water management for new construction. The old, existing storm-water system has been studied, and a long-term project to combat this problem is needed for our city to move forward.
Of course, this will not be inexpensive. I would have our staff seek out sources of grant funding. Bonding is also a possibility. I also would like to talk with other cities an see how they plan to tackle this problem.
Was rezoning of property at Barnes Mill and Lancaster for a student housing project a good idea?
Richmond has grown and continues to grow. We are a vibrant, progressive city. With that growth comes neighborhood concerns. How do we balance the needs of existing neighborhoods with expected growth?
Before development occurs, the people who will be affected should be consulted and their needs addressed. I would like to see an impact statement of how any development will affect the city, including its neighborhoods, traffic flow, future growth and the impact on city revenues.
We are not just building for here and now but for the future.
Does the city sufficiently support, promote its Human Rights Commission?
I believe the Human Rights Commission should be better promoted by the city commissioners. We are talking about basic human rights for all people. People should know they have a place to come if they feel they are victims of discrimination.
The Human Rights Commission plays an important role, and our HRC has done its very best to be visible. And they have offered some excellent programs and enjoy a great reputation at the state level.
Should the city expressly ban discrimination based on sexual orientation?
This is a subject that should be approached with as much information as possible. We should talk with other cities to see what they have done and get their feedback. What is right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right.
Are minorities adequately represented among city employees and are give equal consideration for promotions?
I feel that every person should be on a level playing field. If I am elected, I will see how promotions are handled in the city and the makeup of the city workforce. I will guarantee that all employees are treated equally and with respect. We should follow the Golden Rule , treat others the way you want to be treated.
City employees work very hard. They are out in all kinds of weather, working for the citizens. We need to value our city employees and the contribution they make to Richmond.
What can the city do to redevelop its downtown?
We have some great businesses downtown. We have older business that have been mainstays and newer businesses making an investment in our city. We need to support and encourage businesses to make downtown attractive to residents and visitors. We should have a blue-ribbon committee of downtown merchants, with a city commission representative, to advise the city of their needs and involved them in decision making.
Other cities have transformed their downtowns with creative, forward thinking. But it will take action, not just talk.
Should the city allow drink sales after 9 p.m. on Sundays?
I think the alcohol ordinance should be consistent in the hours of operation. We need to support and encourage business, which will increase city revenue.
What will be your goals if elected?
Richmond is a great place. I was born and reared here. I have family here, and it is a great place to live. I want to give back to the city that I love so dearly.
As I have talked to many people during the campaign, they tell me they want a positive voice on the city commission. They want a commissioner who will listen to their needs and then act. I will be that positive voice. I will represent all of the people all of the time. I want all our citizens and all our city employees to be heard. I want to help improve the morale of our city employees.
I am running for commission because I want to represent your concerns. I will be an open, responsible and proactive commissioner. I will work tirelessly to see that our city continues to grow and prosper. The future of our city is what we make it, right here, right now. Working together, we can make Richmond the best it can be.