Ryan Fenwick

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Ryan Fenwick


Ryan Fenwick is a Louisville, Kentucky activist. Ryan Fenwick ran for mayor of Louisville, Kentucky in 2018 and lost.

DSA member/Mayoral candidate

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Democratic Socialists of America - Louisville February 23 at 4:53pm · This is a profile of Ryan Fenwick for Mayor, the Louisville DSA member running against Greg Fischer in the Democratic mayoral primary this year.

Louisville endorsed candidates 2018

Democratic Socialists of America - Louisville, January 27, 2018;

Louisville DSA’s endorsed candidates will be hard at work again today trying to win their elections. If you can, please take time to volunteer and help them out:
  • Canon For Indiana: Dan Canon’s campaign will be having a day of action in Seymour, IN
  • Richard Becker for State Representative: Richard Becker’s campaign will be canvassing in Kentucky’s 35th District in Louisville:
  • Ryan Fenwick for Mayor: Ryan Fenwick’s campaign will be canvassing in Louisville’s Oakdale neighborhood: [1]

Background

Through five years of volunteering with the environmental- and economic-justice organization Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Ryan Fenwick saw firsthand plans for a methane plant in west Louisville, which already has a history of industrial plants and poor air quality. “The official line coming out of the administration was just that if people understood how great the methane plant was gonna be, they’d be fully in support of it,” Fenwick says, “but what the actual state of affairs was was that the residents who were coming to KFTC in this large coalition were actually very well educated on what the implications for the plant would be.” Plans were eventually scrapped. Originally in support of Fischer for his talk of uplifting neighborhoods and his push for a “compassionate” government, Fenwick’s experience with the methane plant discussions encouraged him to explore the possibility of running for mayor himself.

Fenwick grew up in Graves County, in the far western tip of the state, the son of a farmer dad who, Fenwick says, grew “soybeans and corn like most everybody in western Kentucky who doesn’t raise chickens,” and a mom who retired as the plant manager at a seed company. “In Graves County you could very much see people whose families had been left behind by the economy, whose fathers had lost their jobs in manufacturing, who were being supported by parents who were making minimum wage, and you could really see the disparity,” he says. Following high school he went to the University of Louisville, where he studied English and philosophy, followed by law and urban planning. It was in a political philosophy class that he learned what he says is the difference between where the city and country are in politics and where we could be. “Politics is empty rhetoric, directed mostly toward the donor class,” Fenwick says. “We could be (having) honest, straightforward political discourse that really looks out into the community for answers to our problems and is honest about what our problems are.”

Through his urban-planning lens, Fenwick says he has watched, with disappointment, the current administration give out numerous tax-increment-financing subsidies, or TIFs, to large developers, such as the Omni Hotel, luxury housing projects and a planned soccer stadium in Butchertown. Fenwick says he loves soccer but questions why the $15-an-hour living-wage demands from labor organization Kentucky Jobs with Justice weren’t part of the deal. Fenwick cites studies out of the University of North Carolina and the academic journal Urban Studies that have examined Chicago, where TIFs have been given out for more than 30 years, and he says there hasn’t been evidence showing increased economic-development benefits to residents. At times as though talking from a podium, with arguments constructed in triads, Fenwick says he supports instituting a fund that would allow residents who see something missing in their community to come together and create a democratically owned and controlled business. He’s for participatory budgeting, which gives residents the power to directly identify and then vote to fund projects they believe benefit the community. “Running (the city) like a corporation is really missing an opportunity to unleash the collective genius of Louisville’s residents,” Fenwick says. Fischer, who did not have a primary challenger when he ran for re-election in 2014, has a statement on his campaign website touting $10 billion in current capital investments, plus 63,000 new jobs and 2,600 new businesses since he took office in 2011. (He was not available for comment for this story.) Fenwick says the Louisville Metro Democratic Club and grassroots station Forward Radio have both offered to host debates.

Perhaps most urgently, the city has seen several years of record rates of violent crime and murders, particularly in the West End. Fenwick doesn’t agree that beefing up the police presence, as Fischer did when he added $18 million in police resources to last year’s budget, is the right solution. “When I represent people in criminal courts, it’s amazing what they know about their community,” he says. “They know who did what and why. They know who all has been drawn into it, but they’re not gonna tell anybody because the decision to tell somebody means that some other family is gonna be broken apart. It means that they might be retaliated against. There’s a lot that goes into why someone would choose not to tell the police what they know. A lot of it has to do with not trusting the police.” Fenwick says he would promote policing that builds community trust. “What we really need is a restorative approach to justice where we’re trying to provide services to people with mental-health problems; where we’re trying to make sure that people are getting any kind of drug treatment that they might need to overcome addiction,” he says.[2]

Final push

Democratic Socialists of America - Louisville shared an event. May 15 at 9:20am. ·

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This weekend we are making the final push to help DSA members Ryan Fenwick for Mayor and Richard Becker for State Representative win their primary elections next Tuesday, May 22! Please join us for our Weekend of Action on Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon.

References