In less than a week, Lexington voters will go to the polls and decide who will lead Urban County Government for the next four years. Jim Gray wants to serve another term as mayor. Anthany Beatty would like to take over the reins.
Mayor Jim Gray likes to talk about restoring Lexington's financial health, adding jobs, and police and fire pension reform. Gray considers these the successes of his current term. However, the incumbent says being mayor is mostly about the daily grind "So, I often say it's about blocking and tackling day to day, doing the nitty gritty of the work of being mayor managing the city and it's also about lifting up to the crow's nest and looking over the horizon to where you are going," said Gray.
Anthany Beatty is seeking the office of mayor after working for decades in law enforcement, first for the city and now at the University of Kentucky. "So it worked in division of police, it works at the University of Kentucky, there's no reason it cannot and will not work for the city government. So my style of leadership is collaboration, inclusion, discussion, and then decision making," said Beatty.
Public safety is at the top of Beatty's list of priorities. However, the former police chief says he recognizes the importance of a giving community, a value he shares with his family. "Growing up in the inner city of Lexington in the housing projects and not having much materially, we understand and see the need to give back and I think every citizen should be able to give back, whether it's your time, your energy. If you have the financial means to, your property," said Beatty.
Gray says 'impatience' is a shortcoming of his. He says he often would like to have more hours in a day. There have been some animated discussions between the mayor and council members during his term. Gray makes no apologies and says that's often how progress is made. "You're not gonna have progress when everybody agrees on everything. That's what's remarkable about the democratic process. It's very efficient on account of the tension. Now, it can become too much as we see in Washington and we've seen in Frankfort I think," said Gray.
During the campaign, Beatty says he's met with numerous groups, sometimes in individuals' homes for listening sessions. He says the future of the old downtown courthouse structure has been a popular topic of discussion. "It comes up with every conversation, with every group we meet about why we are letting that building, literally fall in on itself, given the iconic nature of it, the locations of it and what are the other possibilities," said Beatty.
Job creation is prevalent theme for both candidates. Gray says it takes more than a just few employers to create jobs. "A strong city is one that's diversified, that has a balanced economy and is not reliant entirely on one industry, one institution, or two or three for that matter," explained Gray.
Running for city office requires substantial resources. Beatty says the process has been complicated by the large number of candidates seeking financial backing. Both Beatty and Gray have pumped their own money into their campaigns. The dollars and time spent on this race will continue to mount until the evening of November fourth, when city residents will decide who will manage the proclaimed Horse Capitol of the World.