|2nd Mayor of Louisville Metro|
January 3, 2011
January 14, 1958|
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
|Alma mater||Vanderbilt University (BA)|
Gregory E. Fischer (born January 14, 1958) is an American businessman and entrepreneur who is the 50th Mayor of Louisville, Kentucky. He is a graduate of Louisville's Trinity High School and Vanderbilt University.
Fischer was born in Louisville to Mary Lee and George Fischer, graduates of Loretto High School and Flaget High School in Louisville, respectively, and has four siblings. Fischer's father 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 Louisville and graduated in 1976. He has since been inducted as a member of the school's hall of fame. After high school, Fischer attended Vanderbilt University, where he majored in Economics, graduating in 1980. To help pay for his education, Fischer worked summers as a crane operator on the fishing docks of Kodiak, Alaska unloading salmon boats. After his graduation, Fischer traveled solo around the world for a year, spending the bulk of his trip in Asia, before returning to Louisville.
At 25, Fischer co-invented the SerVend automated ice/beverage dispenser, which is used to this day in convenience stores and restaurants. To help sell the product, Fischer 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 SerVend's achievements by awarding it the Quality Cup Award in the small business category in 1999.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.
In 2000, Fischer co-founded bCatalyst, a business accelerator that evolved into a mergers and acquisitions advisory firm. In early 2010, bCatalyst was acquired by Louisville-based Hilliard Lyons.
Fischer was an investor and board member with MedVenture Technology. 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.
Currently, in addition to his other ventures, Fischer serves as founder and chairman of Iceberg Ventures, a private investment firm in Louisville.
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.
Fischer has been a guest lecturer at MIT and the University of Louisville, and was also an executive in residence at Indiana University Southeast in 1999 and 2000. He has served as a past board member of Crane House, an Asian cultural institute in Louisville, and Greater Louisville Inc.
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.
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 Democratic 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.
According to Greg Fischer, the focus of his administration has centered on three main goals, "creating good-paying jobs, improving education at all levels, and making Louisville an even more compassionate city." Fischer also prides himself on a data-driven approach towards government efficiency. In 2013, Governing named Fischer a "Public Official of the Year", the only mayor honored that year.
During his first seven years in office, the local economy added 71,000 jobs, and had the unemployment rate drop below 5%. In 2014, Fischer cut ties with the regional commerce organization Greater Louisville Inc., citing concerns over the organization's financial stability and leadership. 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, while being named one of the top 10 economic development groups in the United States. 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.
As of 2017, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the course of Fischer's tenure as Mayor, the net unemployment rate has dropped from 10.2% in January 2011, to 3.9% in May 2017, a net decrease of 6.3%.
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. On December 15, 2014, Fischer threatened to veto the proposal, calling it "extreme." He instead proposed an increase from the current federal minimum of $7.25 an hour to $8.50 or $8.75 an hour, calling it "more practical, minimizing job losses while still benefiting workers." He further clarified that he supports raising the minimum wage to higher levels, but only at the state and federal levels, as according to him, he is concerned about "job losses to the surrounding counties which choose not to raise their minimum wages." A few days later, 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 original plan stated that on July 1, 2015, the minimum wage would jump from $7.25 an hour to $7.75 an hour, then from $7.75 to $8.25 an hour on July 1, 2016, and finally from $8.25 to $9 an hour on July 1, 2017. The ordinance also included numerous exceptions found in other minimum wage laws, most notably excluding agricultural workers.
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.
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, passed as Senate Bill 17, is designed to reinforce students' constitutional right 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. 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." This move was criticized by many across the state, including the office of Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who called the decision "short-sighted". 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.
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. 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." In the weeks since Fischer's press conference, no association has come forward to say it had rejected Louisville in solidarity with California. It was also later revealed the two still-unnamed conventions that Fischer says dropped Louisville in the wake of the ban had never signed contracts to come to the city. As a result, Fischer has been criticized by numerous state lawmakers from both parties, who accuse Fischer of exaggerating the economic impact of the ban, with State Rep. Phil Moffett, a Republican, saying he had a "hard time characterizing it as lost business for the city if they were never under contract." He added Fischer's press conference "was presented as we lost $2 million in revenue when the reality is we lost the opportunity to land those conventions."
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."
|Democratic||David L. Williams||34,363||5.54%|
|Democratic||James E. Rice||2,365||3.28%|
|Independent||Jerry T. Mills||474||0.18%|
I attended with two folks. One was Jewish another one was Mormon, I'm the Catholic guy in the group, so Pope Francis obviously appeals to people from all over the world