Greg Fischer

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Greg Fischer
GregFischer.jpg
50th Mayor of Louisville
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Preceded byJerry Abramson
Personal details
Born
Gregory Fischer

(1958-01-14) January 14, 1958 (age 62)
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Alexandra Gerassimides
Children4
EducationVanderbilt University (BA)

Greg Fischer[1] (born January 14, 1958) is an American businessman, entrepreneur and 50th mayor of Louisville, Kentucky. In 2019, he was elected vice president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors[2] and will serve as its president in 2020.

Fischer ran in the Kentucky Democratic primary for the United States Senate in 2008, finishing second with 34% of the vote. In November 2010, he was elected mayor of Louisville in a tight race against Metro Council member Hal Heiner. He was reelected[3] in 2014 and 2018, defeating Republican Metro Council member Angela Leet 61% to 37%[4] for a third term.

Since Fischer took office as mayor, Louisville Metro has gained 80,000 new jobs and 2,700 new businesses.[5] In a 2016 Politico survey, he was recognized as the most innovative mayor in the U.S.[6] The city has also attracted $14 billion in capital investment since the Great Recession, including a renovated and expanded convention center,[7] dozens of new hotels and multiple tourist attractions centered around bourbon.

Early life and education[edit]

Fischer was born in Louisville to Mary Lee and George Fischer, graduates of Loretto and Flaget High School in Louisville, respectively, and has four siblings. George was the CEO of MetriData Computing Inc. and Secretary of the Cabinet of Kentucky under Governor John Y. Brown Jr.

Fischer attended Trinity High School in the city and graduated in 1976. He has since been inducted as a member of the school's hall of fame.[8] After high school, Fischer attended Vanderbilt University, where he majored in economics, graduating in 1980.[9] To help pay for his education, Fischer worked summers as a crane operator on the fishing docks of Kodiak, Alaska, unloading salmon boats.citation needed

After graduation, Fischer traveled solo around the world for a year, spending the bulk of his trip in Asia, before returning to Louisville. He is married to Alexandra Gerassimides.[10]

Business career[edit]

At 25, Fischer co-invented the SerVend[11] automated ice/beverage dispenser, which is used to this day in convenience stores and restaurants.[12] To help sell it, he co-founded and ran the company "SerVend International." Over the course of Fischer's involvement with the Louisville-based company, it transformed into a global manufacturing business employing over 300 people. In October 1998, SerVend was one of three U.S. small business companies to be honored with a site visit by the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award examiners. In November 1998, Flomatic International, SerVend's valve manufacturing division, received the Oregon Quality Award. The Rochester Institute of Technology and USA Today recognized the company's achievements by awarding it the Quality Cup Award in the small business category in 1999.[13] The Manitowoc Company purchased SerVend in late 1997.

In 1990, Fischer, along with his father and brother, Mark, was named a winner of an award sponsored by Inc. magazine, Ernst & Young, Merrill Lynch and Business First. As Kentucky and Southern Indiana's Regional Entrepreneurs of the Year in the manufacturing division for their work with SerVend, they were among the finalists for Inc. magazine's U.S. Entrepreneur of the Year award.[14]

In 2000, Fischer co-founded bCatalyst, a business accelerator that evolved into a mergers and acquisitions advisory firm.[15] In early 2010, bCatalyst was acquired by Louisville-based Hilliard Lyons.[16]

Fischer was an investor and board member with MedVenture Technology.[17] MedVenture, located in Jeffersonville, Indiana, is an engineering outsourcer and early stage manufacturer on non-invasive medical devices for companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Boston Scientific, and Medtronic. He is an investor and past board member of Vogt Ice, a manufacturer of commercial and industrial ice machines. He also is an investor and serves on the board of Stonestreet One, a Louisville-based software company specializing in Bluetooth technology.

Fischer was part-owner until 2011 of Dant Clayton Corporation, a sports stadium design, manufacturing, and construction company with prominent sports-related projects around the United States.[citation needed] Currently, in addition to his other ventures, he serves as founder and chairman of Iceberg Ventures, a private investment firm in Louisville.[17]

Community life[edit]

Fischer held chapter offices, including chapter chair, in the Young Presidents' Organization Bluegrass chapter in 1997 and 1998. There, he led the YPO-funded construction of a Habitat for Humanity home and also created a community partnership with Louisville's Center for Interfaith Relations in 2003, resulting in bringing talent such as Robert McNamara to Louisville for community learning. In 2007, Fischer was awarded the first-ever Bluegrass YPO "Best of the Best" award for community contribution in 2007 for lifelong community service.

As past chairman of the Kentucky Science Center in 2001 and 2002, Fischer helped raise over $20 million to modernize the museum and create interactive children's programs. He has also endowed scholarships at Trinity High School and the University of Louisville. Currently, Fischer serves on the U of L's Board of Overseers, as well as on the boards of Jewish Hospital HealthCare Services, Inc., the Waterfront Development Corporation, and the Metro Parks Foundation. In 2006, Fischer received the Catholic Schools Distinguished Alumni Award from the Archdiocese of Louisville.[18]

Fischer has been a guest lecturer at MIT[citation needed] and the University of Louisville,[19] and was also an executive in residence at Indiana University Southeast in 1999 and 2000.[20] He has served as a past board member of Crane House, an Asian cultural institute in Louisville, and Greater Louisville Inc.

U.S. Senate[edit]

2008[edit]

Fischer was one of seven candidates in the 2008 Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky. He ran a five-month campaign and finished second with 34 percent of the vote.[21][22]

Primary winner Bruce Lunsford went on to lose the general election to Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell.[23]

Mayor of Louisville Metro[edit]

Election history[edit]

Fischer announced his candidacy for Mayor of Louisville Metro in July 2009. On November 4, 2009, he became the first to file his letter of intent for the primary election on May 18, 2010.

A television advertisement for Fischer released in late March 2010 cites four priorities under his would-be administration: creating jobs, investing in clean energy, making metro government more transparent and building two new bridges over the Ohio River.

Fischer won the ic primary on May 18, 2010 with 45 percent of the vote. In the November 2 general election, he ran against Republican former council member Hal Heiner (plus two independent candidates) and won with 51% percent of the vote.

On April 23, 2013, Fischer announced to a group of supporters that he would be running for reelection in the 2014 General Election. The General Election was held on November 4, 2014 with Fischer predicted to win a comfortable victory.

Fischer's inauguration of his second term took place on January 5, 2015.

On March 24, 2017, Fischer announced to a group of reporters that he would be seeking a third term as the Mayor of Louisville in the 2018 General Election. Fischer won the Democratic primary on May 22, 2018, with approximately 75% of the vote. In the General Election, Fischer defeated Republican Metro Council member Angela Leet 61 percent to 37 percent.

Tenure[edit]

Fischer was sworn in as the second Mayor of Louisville Metro Government, and the 50th Mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, on January 3, 2011.

Upon taking office, Fischer announced that the city would observe three core values — compassion, better health and lifelong learning.[24]

He also launched efforts to foster a data-driven approach towards government efficiency. This included the creation of the Office for Performance Improvement & Innovation and the implementation of Louiestat,[25] which "brings individual Metro departments before the Mayor and his senior leadership team every six to eight weeks to identify, through consistent metrics tracking and data analysis, what the department (and Metro Government) can do to continually improve the services it delivers to the citizens of Louisville." The city has been recognized as a leader in the use of data and in making data open and available to the public, and is one of only four cities to received What Works Cities' Gold Certification.[26]

Economy[edit]

The Fischer Administration has focused on building the economy and creating opportunities for residents. Early in his tenure, Fischer convened a committee of residents to identify opportunities in the food and beverage industries, culminating in a 2013 report and the coining of the phrase "bourbonism." [27]

The concept was to leverage the growing popularity of bourbon, which is largely produced in Kentucky, and Louisville's history with the beverage to create new economic opportunities in industries such as dining and tourism. The city now attracts 16 million tourists annually,[28] boasts 10 bourbon attractions, such as distilleries on the historic Main Street Whiskey Row. [29]

Along with the redeveloped and expanded downtown convention center, bourbonism has been a factor in multiple new hotels opening in the city, including the Omni Louisville[30] in 2018 and Moxy/Hotel Distil [31] in October 2019.

The Fischer Administration has focused on attracting investment lower income neighborhoods, resulting in about $1 billion of investment in west Louisville.[32] Among the investments happening in the predominantly African-American neighborhoods are the redevelopment of the Beecher Terrace public housing site through a $29.5 million federal grant,[33] a new YMCA[34] at the historic 18th Street and Broadway intersection, and a new track and learning development by the Louisville Urban League with support from the city.[35]

Fischer has also focused on scaling Louisville's technology industry and talent pool. In 2019, Microsoft announced that Louisville would be its regional hub [36] for artificial intelligence, internet of things, and data science. Earlier, in 2013, the city under Fischer worked to launch Code Louisville, a nationally recognized program that offers free coding training to Louisville residents.[37] In June 2019, Fischer announced further efforts to scale Louisville's tech talent development efforts.[38]

During his first nine years in office, the local economy added 80,000 jobs and 2,700 new businesses have opened.[39] Over the course of Fischer's tenure as Mayor, the net unemployment rate has dropped from 10.2% in January 2011, to 3.3% in September 2019.[40]

In 2014, Fischer cut ties with the regional commerce organization Greater Louisville Inc., citing concerns over the organization's financial stability and leadership.[41] Fischer then created a new Economic Development branch named Louisville Forward, creating 3,500 jobs and close to $500,000,000 in local investments its first 10 months,[42] while being named one of the top 10 economic development groups in the United States.[43] However, during his tenure, Louisville has struggled to catch up to neighboring metropolitan areas in percentage of "high paying jobs", ranking 9th out of 17th in the region.[44]

Compassion[edit]

Citing his mother as an inspiration,[45] Fischer launched Give A Day[46] in April 2011 to encourage residents to volunteer or otherwise contribute to the community. The Give A Day Week of Service has since expanded to eight days and in 2019 broke Louisville's own world record for volunteerism and acts of compassion with 235,000. Louisville's commitment to compassion has been expressed in other ways, including in 2015 when hundreds turned out to clean hateful graffiti at a Louisville mosque [47] and in 2018 when the community again came together to clean hateful graffiti at a Hindu temple.[48] In 2013, the Dalai Lama spent three days in Louisville to promote compassion.[49] Fischer would again meet with the Dalai Lama in 2018 during a working trip to India to promote compassion.[50]

Muhammad Ali funeral[edit]

In June 2016, the Fischer Administration played a leading role in facilitating the events surrounding the funeral of Muhammad Ali, the world champion boxer, humanitarian and Louisville native.[51] In the following years, Louisville under Fischer has worked to further recognize Ali's history with the city, including new markers at sites that are significant to Ali's life.[52] In January 2019, Fischer announced that the city's airport would be renamed Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport.[53]

Public Art & Equality Conversation[edit]

On August 12, 2017, a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia turned violent. Various white supremacist groups were protesting the removal of a statue of former Confederate General Robert E. Lee. One day after the rally, Mayor Fischer announced that Louisville's Commission on Public Art would begin a review of public works within the city and would collect a list of works that could be seen as "honoring bigotry, racism, and slavery." This statement was made in conjunction with Lexington Mayor Jim Grey, who said he was "taking steps to remove two Confederate monuments from city property." With the announcement, Fischer stated: "I recognize that some people say all these monuments should be left alone, because they are part of our history, but we need to discuss and interpret our history from multiple perspectives and from different viewpoints. That's why a community conversation is crucial." Fischer went on to say that "Both our human values and the future of our city depend on our ability to directly address the challenges that stop each and every citizen from realizing their potential. We, as a compassionate community, must again come together and face up to the stain of slavery and racism, as we move toward a future that embraces diversity as a strength." The announcement also came hours after a statue in Louisville's Cherokee Park depicting Confederate officer John Breckinridge Castleman was vandalized. In response to the vandalism, Fischer stated "For many, this statue is a beloved neighborhood landmark, but for others, it's a symbol of a painful, tragic and divisive time in our history — which gets at the complexity of this conversation."[54]

On August 8, 2018, Fischer announced that the Castleman statue and a statue of George D. Prentice would be moved.[55]

The following January, Fischer announced the launch of Lean Into Louisville, "an unprecedented series of presentations, conversations, activities and art exhibits that will explore and confront the history and legacy of all forms of discrimination and inequality in the city and the country."[56]

Louisville Minimum Wage Increase[edit]

In November 2014, the Louisville City Council proposed raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Through a spokesman, Fischer has stated that he supports raising the minimum wage at the federal level so it is "uniform nationwide", however he left out specifically what hourly rate he would be in favor of. He also stated that the city should hear from businesses, advocates, citizens, and faith groups before and changes are made.[57] On December 18, Fischer announced that he and the Metro Council had compromised and that Louisville would raise its minimum wage to $9 an hour over the course of three years. The ordinance also included numerous exceptions found in other minimum wage laws, most notably excluding agricultural workers.[58] On October 20, 2016, the Kentucky Supreme Court overturned the city's minimum wage laws, as written. The high court reversed an earlier ruling by a Jefferson County judge, stating that hourly wages are regulated at the state level and that Louisville's ordinance conflicts with state law. In response to the ruling, Fischer, along with a majority of the Louisville Metro Council, called on the Kentucky General Assembly to allow the city to set its own minimum wage law.[59]

California State Travel Ban[edit]

On Thursday June 22, 2017, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that he was working on banning state-funded travel to Kentucky as a response to a bill signed by Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin. The law was designed to reinforce students' ability to express religious and political views in public schools and universities. However, the bill also says religious and political student organizations cannot be hindered or discriminated against for the way they conduct their internal affairs or how they select their leaders and members. Critics say those provisions could be used to let student groups prevent LGBTQ students from joining their ranks.[60] Less than a week later, on June 26, 2017, Mayor Greg Fischer, along with Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, sent a letter to the California Attorney General's Office, asking for their respective cities to be excluded from the ban. "Please consider exempting cities like Louisville from your travel ban," the letter states. "It is my belief that cities like ours should be rewarded for an inclusive behavior, not penalized; a waiver would highlight our inclusivity and encourage other cities to follow accordingly."[61] A week later, Becerra replied to Fischer's letter, stating that California could only lift the ban if city officials were able to "make progress with leaders in your state" to repeal or amend the law.[62]

On June 27, 2017, Fischer announced via Twitter that the city was already feeling the negative effects of the ban, citing an "unnamed convention" that had allegedly chosen to move its venue elsewhere as a show of solidarity with the ban. He further elaborated on Facebook, stating "We are very concerned about others [leaving]" and "...Tourism/conventions are a key driver of our economy." A few days later, Karen Williams, president and CEO of the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, announced in a press conference with Mayor Fischer that a second convention had pulled out of the city.[63] Williams said one convention was slated for 2018 and the other for 2021, but she declined to name them because they are "still looking for other venues outside the city." She said both groups were based out of Chicago and one was a "medical association" and the other a "prestigious research Association."[62]

Breonna Taylor[edit]

Breonna Taylor was a former Louisville EMT killed in her home in March 2020. Louisville Metro Police Department had received a warrant to search her residence and vehicle due to surveillance in an ongoing drug trafficking investigation which noted she had been seen at the home of her former boyfriend, Mr. Glover a drug trafficker known to police, and it was also confirmed by USPS Glover had received packages at Ms. Taylor's home.[citation needed]

The warrant was issued as a "no knock" warrant, however both officers and Ms. Taylor's boyfriend at the time, Kenneth Walker, who was present, confirmed police knocked on at least four occasions [citation needed]. Police say they were also announcing, though Walker said he did not hear them identifying themselves. When police received no answer after the final episode of knocking they breached the door and were met with gunfire.

Taylor was stuck several times and pronounced dead at the scene [citation needed]. Initially Walker told police it was Taylor who had shot at them [citation needed] but upon further questioning he admitted it was in fact him who had fired the gun [citation needed], stating he believed it was a home invasion.[64] Fischer's handling of the case [howso?], his decision not to arrest the police officers [citation needed] along with the recent killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN, led to widespread protests across Louisville.[65]

On June 12, 2020, Fischer said he would sign "Breonna's Law" after it was passed unanimously by city council members. The law bans "no knock" warrants, a controversial procedure requested by LMPD police that led to the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in March. It was later determined that police did in fact knock, but whether they announced themselves as police is disputed, as the officers had turned off their body cams [citation needed]. Fischer called the four-page incident report filed by the LMPD regarding Taylor's death "unacceptable" [citation needed] but did not call for the arrest of the officers, citing the ongoing investigation in the hands of the Kentucky Attorney General.[66] On July 16, 2020, it was announced that the Government Oversight and Audit Committee (GOA) of the Louisville Metro Council had officially launched an investigation "into the action and inaction of the Fischer Administration," [citation needed] in regard to the handling of the Breonna Taylor case and the death of David McAtee, as well as the handling of the resulting protests. McAtee was a Louisville business owner who responded with gunfire to the firing of pepper balls by LMPD and National Guardsmen enforcing a curfew upon protestors; he was shot by a Kentucky National Guardsman.[67]

On September 17, 2020, The Louisville Metro Council approved a resolution that declared "no confidence" in Mayor Greg Fischer over his handling of the death of Breonna Taylor and the subsequent unrest.[68]

Electoral History[edit]

United States Senate[edit]

2008[edit]

Democratic primary results[21]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Bruce Lunsford 316,992 51.15%
Democratic Greg Fischer 209,827 33.85%
Democratic David L. Williams 34,363 5.54%
Democratic Michael Cassaro 17,340 2.80%
Democratic Kenneth Stepp 13,451 2.17%
Democratic David Wylie 7,528 1.21%
Democratic James E. Rice 2,365 3.28%
Total votes 619,904 100.00%

Mayor of Louisville Metro[edit]

2010[edit]

Louisville mayoral election, 2010[69]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Greg Fischer 132,050 51.10% -16.09%
Republican Hal Heiner 125,178 48.44% +17.18%
Independent Nimbus Couzin 499 0.19%
Independent Jerry T. Mills 474 0.18%
Write-ins 200 0.08%
Majority 6,872 2.66% -33.27%
Turnout 258,401
Democratic hold Swing

2014[edit]

Louisville mayoral election, 2014[70]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Greg Fischer 172,810 68.55% +17.45%
Republican Bob DeVore 78,870 31.3% -17.14%
Write-ins 511 0.2%
Majority 93,940 37.2% +34.54%
Turnout 251,680
Democratic hold Swing

2018[edit]

Louisville mayoral election, 2018[71]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Greg Fischer 177,749 61.33% -7.22%
Republican Angela Leet 105,853 36.53% +5.23%
Independent Jackie Green 1,979 0.68%
Independent Chris Thieneman 1,296 0.45%
Independent Sean Vandevander 995 0.34%
Independent Billy Ralls 873 0.30%
Independent Henry Owens III 415 0.14%
Independent Douglas Edward Lattimore 315 0.11%
Independent Isaac Marion Thacker IV 306 0.11%
Majority 71,896 24.81% -12.39%
Turnout 289,781 100% +13.15%
Democratic hold Swing

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Jerry Abramson
Mayor of Louisville
2011–present
Incumbent