Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s prepared remarks for his third inauguration, Jan. 9, 2019:
Thanks to my family:
My wife Alex and our children – Eleni and Cody, George, Nick, Mary
My siblings, Lynn, Mark, Paul and Chris
My wonderful parents, Mary Lee and George
My mother-in-law Eleni.
And a special recognition for my father-in-law Nick Gerassimides, who peacefully passed away just two weeks ago.
Thanks to the Metro Council, all elected public servants, and our great Metro Government team. I’m honored to serve alongside you.
And a very special thank you to our public safety professionals. They’re on duty today, every day and every night.
Working to keep us safe. Thank you.
And the greatest thank you to the people of Louisville, for giving me this opportunity to serve four more years as mayor.
Many people have asked me, ‘why did you want to be mayor for another four years?’
The most basic answer is: Because this is my home.
My parents taught me that it’s not enough to just love your home. You have to work for it; and sometimes, you have to fight for it.
So it can be a better place for everyone.
As mayor, I love my city unconditionally.
And just like we can love a person and still recognize that he or she isn’t perfect, we can love our hometown, yet still recognize that there is more work to do.
Work to make sure that our economy is continually growing and evolving with the changing times. And work to ensure that each of us has the opportunity to reach our full human potential.
That’s how my team and I define our city value of compassion.
That core value – along with health and lifelong learning – has guided us for the last eight years, working alongside business and community partners who share the same relentless optimism that tomorrow will be better than yesterday because of the work we’re doing today.
We are dreaming even bigger – and will move even faster and work even harder in the days ahead.
Because, only one thing has fundamentally changed since Election Day: Now we know exactly how much longer we have the privilege of serving the people of Louisville.
Starting today: 1,457 days.
That may sound like a lot. But believe me, it goes fast.
So we must embrace what Dr. Martin Luther King called “the fierce urgency of now.”
That’s why we have created a 100-day plan, much like we did in my first term. Because we want our citizens to see that same sense of urgency today.
In 2011, that urgency helped bring our community together, and collectively, we lifted our city out of the recession and produced an economic renaissance, with:
80,000 new jobs
2,700 new businesses
$13 billion in capital investment.
We’ve remade our skyline.
We’ve built bridges and created landmarks.
We’ve grown tourism into a booming year-round industry, attracting millions of people from all around the world.
What we’re experiencing right now is a period of prosperity unlike anything we’ve seen in generations.
And that’s because of our focus on innovation, globalization and entrepreneurship – and because of our beautiful citizenry and the thousands of companies that call Louisville home.
And that’s worth celebrating.
It’s also critical to remember the words of Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz: “The only true and sustainable prosperity is shared prosperity.”
Not everyone in Louisville is sharing in our prosperity.
That’s not acceptable.
My team and I feel that fierce sense of urgency to create prosperity and possibility that reaches every home in every neighborhood.
Because for our city to succeed, it’s essential that everyone shares the same sense of connection to a bright and hopeful future.
That means it’s time for us to aim higher and dig deeper in order to go farther as a city.
And that doesn’t mean just more economic growth. It means smart and sustainable growth.
Growth that sows the seeds of equity, where every citizen has access to a great education, career opportunities, quality health care, housing and the means to create a successful life.
Equity means doing what it takes to shrink the 12-year difference in life expectancy that exists between some ZIP codes in our city.
Equity means putting an end to the statistic that 1 in 7 Louisvillians, like 1 in 7 Americans, lives in concentrated poverty.
Equity means we address the challenges – like poverty, housing and hunger – that cause too many children to show up on the first day of kindergarten three years behind their peers who have more resources.
These are challenges that result from broken and outdated national systems – like education, health care, social welfare, workforce training.
It’s as if, as a country, we’re trying to meet the needs of people in the digital world with analog systems and thinking.
At the same time, we’re seeing an economy that’s producing a massive concentration of wealth at the highest income levels, while others are left far behind.
That is an unwise and unsustainable trend that makes it harder and harder for people to achieve the American dream.
And as uncomfortable as it may be, we also must recognize that much of the inequity we struggle with today is the result of deliberate actions by government and other institutions.
This is particularly true for our African-American brothers and sisters.
From slavery to Jim Crow, redlining to urban renewal, voter suppression and beyond, these and other systemic, racist policies have robbed generations of minorities of the ability to pursue their dreams and betrayed America’s promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all.
These policies created burdens and barriers that we must work together to knock down.
For without justice, there is no peace. No peace of mind nor of spirit, nor of community.
This is not an ideological argument.
As mayor, I am in the reality business.
And the reality is: As Louisville and our nation grow more diverse, and technology and the global economy continue to evolve, we need all of our people involved.
We must ensure that everyone feels a sense of belonging in our future and has equitable access to the resources they need to thrive and contribute to our community.
Because whether you live in…
Fairdale, or Fern Creek
Parkland, Prospect, or PRP
Butchertown, Berrytown, Germantown or Rubbertown,
you deserve the same shot at a hopeful future!
Over the next four years, we will take important and unprecedented steps as a city to come to terms with our history and work together to create a more equitable future.
Because, let’s be clear: As a businessman turned mayor, I can attest that creating a more equitable city where everyone shares in our prosperity is the right way forward both morally and economically.
Want proof? In the last 4 years, 20,000 Louisvillians have lifted themselves out of poverty, and 17,000 families have joined the middle class.
That means more families now contributing to our city. More families able to give their children a future filled with hope and possibility.
Shared prosperity means more customers and qualified workers for our businesses.
Shared prosperity means safer streets, healthier neighborhoods and better schools.
Shared prosperity means more prosperity for all of us.
Imagine if every family in our city made a living wage. Just a living wage. It would add over a billion dollars to Louisville’s economy every year!
So how do we do that? We’ll build on the success we’ve had. Let me give you four examples.
We’ll continue upgrading our workforce development and technology infrastructure to create more opportunities for people to transform their lives.
People like Tina Maddox. She was a stay-at-home, single mom with no background in technology. She enrolled in Code Louisville, and now works as a software developer.
Tina is one of more than 335 people Code Louisville has connected to tech jobs, with average salaries around $50,000.
And the current waiting list for Code Louisville is over 1,200 people.
We are in the process of radically growing our tech training programs, so we can win even more of the jobs and talent of the future.
We’re already making progress.
Last year, our city achieved a milestone by being recognized as a Top 15 city for millennial growth.
We’re changing the narrative of our population trends from brain drain to brain gain.
And attracting even more young professionals means we need to keep working to protect our environment and cultivate our outdoor spaces. It means expanding our festivals, our art, music, culture and food scenes.
And it means further growing bourbonism, downtown living and the amenities you see in all growing cities – amenities like bike lanes!
Second, our built economy. In the next four years, we’ll complete important projects like the soccer stadium district. Colonial Gardens. Paristown. Logan Street Market. And the new Northeast Regional Library.
And look at what’s happening in west Louisville.
Nearly a billion dollars of investment funding catalytic projects:
The expansion of Waterfront Park
The Louisville Urban League Sports and Learning Complex at 30th and Ali
The YMCA, and the new Passport Headquarters at 18th and Broadway
And the Beecher Terrace and Russell revitalization.
For that work, we’re collaborating with the people of Russell, along with businesses, faith groups and other community partners to make sure we restore the great legacy of this neighborhood – once celebrated as the Harlem of the South – without displacing anyone who wants to remain there.
West Louisville, of course, was the home of Muhammad Ali. And when we talk about the incredible things happening there and throughout our city, we need to channel a little bit of the Champ.
Muhammad called himself The Greatest, and said, “It ain’t bragging if you can back it up.”
So let’s brag about this city we love.
So much about creating a thriving city is about attitude.
Let’s tell our friends, relatives and business associates who live elsewhere about all the great things happening here – the authentic experiences, the culture of compassion, innovation and opportunity that we’re creating.
Let’s not be shy about telling people all over the world that wherever you’re from, however you worship and whomever you love, there is a place for you in Louisville – a proudly diverse, welcoming and compassionate city!
That brings me to the third example of success we’re building on: Globalization.
We embrace people from around the world. People like…
Dr. Neeli Bendapudi, our emcee today. She grew up in India and is now the dynamic president of the University of Louisville, a great partner to our city.
Fernando Martinez, who escaped his native Cuba on a raft, and now is one of our most successful nationally recognized chefs and entrepreneurs.
And Dr. Alex Gerassimides, my wife. She’s the daughter of Greek immigrants who fled civil war in their own country to come to America.
One element that unites each of these stories, and the stories of so many successful people, is our city value of lifelong learning. Because education is the greatest equity tool.
And that’s the fourth example, education. We’re going to invest even more resources in the coming years in our city value of lifelong learning.
The economy of the 21st century is a knowledge economy, built on an individual’s ability to learn and adapt in the workplace.
That’s why, in the next four years, we will elevate our Cradle to Career framework into a premier lifelong learning system with two transformational features:
First, we need to do more to get more young people ready for learning.
We lose too many kids because their families struggle with poverty, addiction, mental health issues, access to health care, transportation, housing, hunger, and a host of other challenges.
That’s why we will work with Cradle to Career to provide comprehensive wraparound support services for children and parents through schools and other community organizations.
Second, we’ll help create a scholarship program for JCPS graduates, giving them the opportunity to earn a two-year college degree tuition-free.
Our children must see that we care for them.
Imagine the hope Cradle to Career gives to a child who struggles to see a future for himself, because he knows that while college is essential, his parents can’t afford to send him.
Imagine the hope Cradle to Career sends to a single mom working two jobs just to keep her kids fed and clothed.
And imagine the message we’ll send to businesses looking to invest, start up or relocate.
Cradle to Career shows our citizens and the world that Louisville is the kind of forward-looking city that understands the critical value of lifelong learning in the 21st century.
All of this.
This is the future we’re building together.
All of us.
Our victories over the past eight years have given us momentum that we have not seen in decades and fuel the determination to do even more.
Now is the time to take the next great leap forward.
We must be bolder; we must take more risks– and we must do it together.
Individual actions – yours, yours, mine, yours, yours leading to collective strength.
That’s why we’re here.
This is our home.
This is our moment.
Now let’s get to work!