Violet "Vi" Farmer

Political party: 
Question 1: 

What are the major issues facing the City of Berea?

Major issues facing the City of Berea include but not limited to:

A. Infrastructure maintenance and improvement are critical to providing services to citizens and economic development.

1. Additional water reservoir capacity

2. City-wide storm water drainage system

3. Phase II of Bypass

4. U.S. 25 North rebuild

5. On-going maintenance and upgrade of streets, sidewalks, bikeways

B. Economic growth and development

1. Creation and retention of well-paying jobs

2. Recruitment of new businesses and support for existing businesses and industries

3. Active support for education, training and retraining of work force (new vocational school)

C. Provision of outstanding public services

1. Wise use and conservation of energy

2. Police and Fire protection for citizen safety and well-being

3. Recreation opportunities for all ages and abilities

4. Safe streets, sidewalks/bikeways, and easily accessible

5. Support for thriving arts community

D. Responsible fiscal management with balanced budget and healthy surplus, maintaining public safety and services within revenues generated

These issues require strong leadership with city officials and community working together to solve problems and to plan for short-term and long-range needs.

Question 2: 

What is your position on future growth and development issues as they affect Berea; including further development of historical districts, tourism, and sustainable “buy local” initiatives?

Future growth and development issues:

A. Expansion of urban service boundary is guided by the adopted land use map and Berea's comprehensive plan which includes goals for protection of the environment, energy conservation, safe transportation, affordable housing, local food production and community sustainability.

B. Bypass development hearings have resulted in restricted development to major intersections with designated set-backs, screening, landscaping, and lighting.

C. Tourism is an industry that brings hundreds of visitors and thousands of dollars into Berea. The new signage program, the Learn Shops, Take it - Make-it project, the Arts Accelerator program, and "advertising" Berea are examples of Tourism contributions.

D. Historical and cultural districts are protected by designated overlay districts (Chestnut Street and Old Town Berea) as a tool to preserve and enhance Berea's history as well as Berea's future.

E. Support for locally owned businesses and encouragement to "Buy Local" is a desired goal. The city supports these endeavors through land use, advertising, assisting with events, in-kind services. Berea's lead in sustainability is due largely to individuals and groups who have spearheaded many activities and educational offerings and to the commitment and practice of sustainability by Berea College.

Question 3: 

Are you in favor of the development of pedestrian and bicycle pathways as safe and practical options to motorized transportation in Berea? If so, what projects of this kind would be your priority?

Sidewalks, bikeways and shared-use paths should remain a high priority. A growing population means increased traffic flow and more risk to pedestrians and bicyclists. All new streets should include designed sidewalks/bikeways. The new bypass and upgraded streets should add sidewalks/bikeways if possible. A program to continue repairs of existing sidewalks and plans for connecting current walkways is essential for safety and convenience. Phase I of the Indian Fort Trail, along with the bridge and Phase II from Short Line Pike to Indian Fort have been completed. The connecting stretch along Short Line is due for construction in the near future. Joint efforts between Berea and Madison County should result in major trails in surrounding areas. A very active citizens group has devoted much time and energy toward improved safety, for vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians. The addition of sidewalks, bikeways, and shared-use paths make Berea a pedestrian-friendly community that is attractive to new residents, new businesses, visitors, and more importantly, to those citizens currently living in Berea.

Question 4: 

State and federal laws do not exist that ban discrimination against people in areas of housing, employment and public accommodation based on perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. Knowing that, would you be in favor of passing a fairness ordinance in Berea that would address this type of discrimination? Please explain.

I fully believe in, and support fair treatment and equal opportunity for all people, not only in housing, employment, and public accommodations, but in every aspect of life. The Human Rights Ordinance makes that statement in its purpose - All people means everyone is covered. I have lived my personal and professional life according to that standard.

Creating another protected class without state or federal laws to support enforcement causes great concern. I question the potential liability to the city. The additional personnel dictated by the ordinance, the investigator and Hearing Officer (an attorney) have the potential to be very costly. The expenses associated with extended legal and court battles could drain city financial resources.

I would base my decision on the "Fairness Ordinance" the same way I have made decisions my entire tenure on city council, by determining, to the very best of my ability, what is best for the city of Berea.

Question 5: 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in the years of 2010-2014, 19.7% of the residents of Madison County lived below the poverty line. What policies will you support to improve the availability of safe affordable housing and increased economic opportunities for all citizens?

The shortage of affordable housing in Berea is an area of need for the lower income community. I strongly support programs that provide services and aid to those families, such as health care (local hospital, White House Clinic, Hospice, V.A. Clinic), affordable city services (utilities, bus service), Berea Intergenerational Center, Berea Library (programs for young and old), Berea Food Bank and Berea Utilities and Rent Relief (BURR) housed in the city's nearly expanded facility behind City Hall, handicapped-accessible infrastructure, educational opportunities, police and fire protection and at least four safe affordable housing developments (Silver Creek Apartments, Glades Village, Morgan Street Development, and Senior Citizens Housing on Lewis/Rogers Street) address this issue. The city can support Planning and Zoning regulations that eliminate sub-standard housing. An exciting future project is the planned development of a new assisted-living facility. My hope would be sooner rather than later!

Question 6: 

What actions or initiatives can the city take to provide help and alternatives to families and people in Berea living with addiction?

Addiction is a growing and devastating problem, not only in Berea but state-wide, nationally, and globally. There are no simple solutions but measures can be taken to help those involved and the families and communities affected by this epidemic. Steps include increased education aimed at prevention, specialized training for those dealing with persons suffering from addiction (police, medical personnel, emergency workers), counseling services, economic opportunities (jobs), development of treatment programs, and support for families dealing with the many associated problems. There is no easy or quick fix but the issue cannot be ignored. Everyone is impacted, either directly or indirectly by the drug culture. It truly is a universal problem.

Question 7: 

What measures do you support to foster good relations between law enforcement officers and our local community?

A. The police officers in the schools are such an asset. Young people learn to communicate with that officer and build respect and trust at a formative stage in their lives.

B. The Community Policing program is very effective and serves both Berea citizens and the Police Department.

C. Neighborhood Watch programs formed with the help of police officers are a community outreach endeavor. 

D. The drug task force formed in cooperation with Madison County has been successful in the struggle with drug trafficking. 

E. Police personnel are willing and eager to speak to groups, civic clubs, and community organizations on a wide variety of subjects. 

F. The community must appreciate the difficult and dangerous job of the police officer. Their task is to serve and protect and they deserve support and respect. 

The key to positive relations is a spirit of natural trust and respect. It begins with open communication and understanding.

Question 8: 

Last year there was a great deal of controversy around the selling of confederate flag merchandise at the Spoonbread Festival, and Berea students reported being harassed on the basis of race while in town. Given that, what measures do you support to address racial harassment in Berea?

Berea has a reputation for being a very accepting community . All of Berea's Citizens are entitled to fair and equal treatment and respect. Education is the key to overall attitude of sensitivity and tolerance. The Berea Human Rights Commission is charged with fostering equality, respect, and understanding and to educate the community on existing rights and obligations. Another of their responsibilities is to investigate discrimination complaints and attempt to solve said issues through stated procedures.

Question 9: 

Berea is in the midst of making long-term decisions about where and how it gets and manages its wholesale electric power. Beyond safety, reliability and affordability, what considerations should be made with respect to Berea's electric power choices?

Berea Municipal Utilities currently strives to provide safe, efficient, and affordable energy to their customers, along with education on conservation and alternate energy sources (the expanded solar farm is an alternate energy source in action). 

These goals are foremost in the consideration of sources of wholesale electric power. The selection process is very complex, dealing with electric generation, transmission, capacity, and diversifying sources of power. Consideration of alternate energy sources (solar, wind, hydro) factors into final decisions. Over the past years, Berea Citizens have enjoyed some of the lowest rates in the state. Hopefully, that will continue. 

Comparative studies of history, track records, risk factors, reliability and costs are key steps in selecting a electric source for Berea's energy future.