WATCH: Lexington mayoral candidates face off in debate at WKYT

The 2022 Lexington Mayoral Debate - October 17, 2022
Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 3:10 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Lexington’s mayoral candidates faced off in a debate Monday. (watch above)

Incumbent Mayor Linda Gorton and challenger Councilmember David Kloiber answered questions in the WKYT studio.

A wide range of topics was covered, from the ongoing violence in the city, the drug epidemic, and the candidates’ stance on Kentucky Constitutional Amendment 2, which is the amendment related to abortion on the ballot this year.

The violence in the city has become the top issue of this campaign, especially now that the city has surpassed last year’s homicide record.

“Right now, we are a community-focused policing city. We have been for several decades,” Gorton said. “That means our police go into the neighborhoods. They get to know the people who live there, the business owners. They get to know the crime patterns.”

Gorton says One Lexington is also effective, saying gun violence among youth is down 50%.

Kloiber says what the city is doing isn’t enough, and continues to push the group violence intervention strategy.

“My plan forward, is to bring in one of the best-practiced community policing policies, GVI. It’s been recommended to us by community leaders. It’s been recommended to us by the previous administration, under Jim Gray, who commissioned a report that said GVI was going to help us,” Kloiber said.

Gorton says she’s talked to experts who say it’s not effective and isn’t a fit for the city.

“They admitted we are on a very low end of having group gun violence,” Gorton said. “We’ve talked to many cities across the city who used to use it but no longer use it because they found it was not effective.”

Kloiber says the city’s flock camera system, which the mayor calls successful, does just what mayor Gorton says GVI would do.

“Making a claim about the effectiveness of these programs, and how they target minorities, it seems disingenuous when the mayor is using and implementing policies like the flock cameras which are intentionally targeting minorities and underserved neighborhoods,” Kloiber said.

There were also a few tense moments throughout the hour-long debate. One came as the two discussed their plans to address affordable housing.

Lexington continues to be a growing city in central Kentucky but the city’s housing situation, both demand and affordability, is often criticized.

“We have put unprecedented amounts of resources into affordable housing,” Gorton said. “Since 2014, when we formed the Affordable Housing Fund, we have built or rehabbed almost 3,000 units of affordable housing.”

Mayor Gorton says the city has gotten praise from the federal government for the program that also helped families avoid eviction. However, Kloiber says it’s because of the council, not the mayor.

Gorton says it was based on her recommendations.

Kloiber is also critical of policies that he says keep Lexington from expanding housing options.

“We have policies in town that keep us from building more houses,” Kloiber said. “The less houses we have, the less affordable it is for everyone. We’ve seen one of the single highest rental rate increases in the country.”

Kloiber also says Gorton voted against creating the housing trust, which she denies.

“Putting these things out there, as if this is something that she has been a part of, and that she has supported for the entirety of her place in our political system, is a bit disingenuous,” Kloiber said.

“I sat right there as vice mayor and supported the Affordable Housing Fund,” Gorton said. “By the way, it’s not a trust fund because it doesn’t produce principle that someone uses. You’re used to a trust fund because you have your family’s trust fund. This is a fund, and I was very supportive of it. In the first year, we put $3 million into it. I have supported the money every single year I have been in office.”

Kloiber says Gorton may have continued to support the fund, but says the amount put in, has dropped over the years to just $200,000. Gorton denied that saying it is actually $2 million.

You can watch a replay of the debate above.

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