Lexington mayoral candidates square off in televised debate
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - It was a lively and often times even heated debate Monday night between the candidates for Lexington mayor.
Incumbent Mayor Linda Gorton and challengers David Kloiber and Adrian Wallace squared off in a televised debate hosted by WKYT. A wide range of topics were covered, including crime, affordable housing and mental health.
Right out of the gate, there was a lot of back-and-forth when it came to crime, which has really taken center stage as the most important issue in the race.
The hour-long showdown marked one of the last chances for candidates to reach a wide audience.
“Our city has many issues. Issues that have largely been unaddressed but effect all of us with rising violence, rising housing costs,” Kloiber said.
“I love this city. Lexington is a great city. But we have some very real issues, from housing affordability to homicide rates that are out of control,” Wallace said.
“As mayor, I have faced every one of those challenges including a worldwide pandemic, probably the greatest crisis Lexington has ever had. Tumultuous economic downturns and other challenges,” Gorton said.
The debate wasted no time getting to the biggest issue in the race-- crime. Two double murders within the last week have put Lexington on pace with last year’s record for homicides.
“Just two weeks ago, the current mayor said that we had initiated One Lexington and we were 50% down on homicides. But today, we are tied with the exact same homicide rate as last year. So the question is, what was done with One Lexington that should have created a lower homicide rate? We are at the exact same rate and we are set to outpace the record 37 homicides last year. We have a record number of retirements from the police department and a record low of applications to the department. It’s because of a lack of leadership that we had a vote of no confidence from the FCDC,” Wallace said.
“It’s easy for you to spew out generalities and numbers, I deal in facts. A mayor does not have the luxury of not dealing in facts. Right now, violent crime which involves rape, arson, murder, aggravated assault, is down 5% from this time last year. That is a fact. Gun violence last year this day were 15. Today we’re 10. Now you tell me how those facts gel with what you’re saying. Because the facts are what matter,” Gorton said.
“We have an increase of almost 9% in our homicides from last year to this year. As the moderator said, we are on track to hit another record for homicides this year. Aggravated sexual assaults are up 20% from last year. So while some arsons or break-ins may be down, the kind of violent crime that we are concerned about on our streets that plague us as we walk our kids to school, that is up. Unequivocally by the facts. When Mr. Wallace and myself say things aren’t working, we’re not talking about the hardworking officers who are out there every day. We’re talking about the policy that your administration is implementing,” Kloiber said.
Flock cameras also led to a heated discussion. Mayor Gorton stands by that the cameras are not surveillance, and have helped lead to 24 arrests since the nine cameras were installed last month.
Kloiber said if you’re taking photos, that is surveillance, and there should be more preventative measures. Gorton did point out that Kloiber, who is a councilmember, voted to support the city’s pilot program with the cameras.
Wallace added the money that will pay for the cameras after the pilot phase could be used for intervention programs, and the cameras lack transparency and accountability.
You can re-watch the debate below:
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