Team Coverage: Lexington mayoral race

Team Coverage: Lexington mayoral race
Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 4:59 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - At the midterm elections, on Tuesday, Lexington voters will decide who will hold the city’s top job.

Mayor Linda Gorton is seeking a second term in office, Councilmember David Kloiber is looking to unseat her.

The issues driving the mayor’s race are the increase in gun violence in the city, the murder rate hitting a record high this year and affordable housing.

INCUMBENT: Mayor Linda Gorton

Linda Gorton was first elected mayor in 2018. Before that, she served in various other elected roles on the council for 16 years. For the last four years, Linda Gorton has led Lexington through difficult times and she says her work for the city is not done.

Mayor Gorton says 2020, the midway point in her first term, was a challenging year. She says the city faced the challenges head-on, including racial justice reform.

“I’m really proud of what came out of that terrible time because one of the good things is my commission on racial justice and inequality. which has led us to many reforms here,” Mayor Gorton said.

There are still issues Mayor Gorton says are on her to-do list, including affordable housing. $2 million is budgeted for the efforts each year. Mayor Gorton also recommended the council put in another 10 million thanks to the American Rescue Plan. One of several issues Mayor Gorton says she has the solution for and the experience to back it up.

“I’m by far the most experienced candidate, with not only leadership but actually accomplishing things for the city,” Mayor Gorton said.

Mayor Gorton notes that crime and public safety has been a top issue in the race. She says she’s very concerned over the rising rates of domestic violence.

Mayor Gorton says Lexington has fallen under similar trends seen across the country with rising homicides and gun violence, while concerns have been focused on gun violence, with at least 110 shootings this year, Gorton says violent crime is slightly down.

Mayor Gorton has been criticized for not adopting the group violence intervention strategy. She has said it’s not a fit for Lexington and has heard from cities that say it did not work for them. She also worries about the hyper-focus it would put on minorities. She says the community violence program the city adopted fits their need, especially One Lexington.

“it’s a whole program of things to get these kids away from the path of violence, and turn toward a positive path, and it’s working,” said Mayor Gorton

What mayor Gorton is growing more concerned about is the rise in domestic violence. She says a third of this year’s homicides have been within the home. since the summer, the city has worked with domestic violence groups to roll out a program to acknowledge the problem, and help families.

CHALLENGER: Councilmember David Kloiber

Councilmember David Kloiber is looking to become Lexington’s next mayor. He currently represents the city’s sixth district, he’s been in office since November 2020.

On Tuesday, Kloiber will be joined by his friends, family and supporters in Limestone Hall, as they await the results.

“It’s important that you make the time and show your support for the things that our community is interested in,” Councilmember Kloiber said. “I’m always going to make the time to be there for people when they’re standing up to make their voices heard.”

Affordable housing is a cause Kloiber has made an integral part of his campaign, drawing attention to the drastically rising costs of rent in Lexington in the past few months alone. As a landlord himself, Kloiber says it’s important for him to stand with those fighting for renter’s rights. Recently, the KY Tenant Group has held rallies to raise awareness for the issue. Kloiber says he’s been at as many of these events as he can.

“We need to make sure people can live in their houses. We’ve seen some of the biggest rent increases we’ve ever seen. We need to make sure we’re taking intentional steps to keep people here. We can’t keep driving them into the surrounding communities,” Kloiber said. “Some people are okay with that, but you have to focus on the people. You have to focus on what makes our community great, and it really is each and every one of us.”

Kloiber has been campaigning for change in the way crime is tackled in the city. He pushed for using the Group Violence Intervention Strategy, which attempts to reduce violent crime by communicating and engaging with the small number of people driving the violence.

“It’s steps of getting the community together. Building trust. Making sure that our officers are working with our community. That everybody knows the direction we’re going and using a proven plan,” Kloiber said “So I’m excited to be a part of it. I know a lot of people are excited about it. We can do a lot to address the crime in our city.”