FOX 56’s Bode Brooks sat down with three of the four candidates— Linda Gorton, Adrian Wallace, and David Kloiber—to ask questions as well as discuss issues including crime, homelessness, infrastructure and traffic, and ways to keep Lexington affordable.
The fourth candidate, William Weyman, is not actively campaigning.
The three candidates had many similarities, but their approaches to crime showed the biggest divide.
Who is Linda Gorton?
Gorton is the nonpartisan incumbent from central Ohio.
The University of Kentucky graduate was a former nurse at Baptist Physicians of Lexington and served as Vice Mayor of Lexington before taking on her current role as Mayor in 2019.
“Linda Gorton, the longest continuously serving member of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council, is serving her first term as Lexington Mayor. Mayor Gorton was elected on November 6, 2018, winning 63% of the vote,” reads Gorton’s mayor page.
Gorton has around 16 years of experience working for the city.
When Gorton was vice mayor she served on boards and committees such as: Sponsored legislation and enhancements to Lexington’s Smoking Ordinance,
Linda Gorton’s stance on issues
In Gorton’s roughly 28-minute interview, she went in depth about how stopping and reducing crime is much more of a tapestry of various intertwined colors and not as black and white as some might think. It’s about properly investing not only money but time, effort, and resources to making sure the right programs and people are in place in law enforcement.
Gorton also showed a willingness to invest in not only helping homeless people get off the streets, but also treating homeless people like people and citizens. Her Department of Housing Advocacy and Community Development is targeted towards raising the bar for affordable housing.
She also cited her nearly 20 years of experience not only working in public office but working for people and finding solutions for people as a nurse. Gorton also put a spotlight on her experiences serving as the incumbent mayor and taking the uncertainty of a worldwide pandemic in stride.
Violent crime, community policing
“Our violent crime between the year 2020, we were fully in the pandemic, and 2021 has decreased 4%,” she said.
“Our gun homicides, which are the biggest category of homicide … they are actually down since this time last year. So we are hopeful that some of the things we have been doing are starting to show a little bit of movement.”
“For example, in the current budget which the council passed last June, I put in five new neighborhood officers, plus a sergeant who oversees them,” she said.
“This is the kind of community policing we’ve been doing since the 90s. Many cities still don’t do community policing,” she said, “and we know that is it very effective.”
“We’ve given significant raises and money to not only affect (police) recruitment which has been down all over the country, we affect retention of (police) officers.”
“We call it our continuum of care,” she said. “All the different churches and nonprofits and all the entities that house people either on an emergency bases or a temporary bases.”
“The other thing is. For the first time in any administration we have our brand new Department of Housing Advocacy and Community Development. It’s a total focus on housing. It includes homelessness, affordable housing, grants, and special programs, many of which go to housing.”
“Our numbers are hovering right around 700 now and so we have seen a bit of a decrease and that’s good news. People in other communities have brought their homeless people here because they know they will give them services,” she said.
“We have worked really hard with Commissioner Albright and the traffic engineering folks to do a good bit of re-timing with the lights. Most people don’t think about that, it’s kind of a technical thing but it does make a difference in how well traffic can flow.”
Gorton is putting a high emphasis on alternative transportation and she said her administration has put a lot of resources into trails.
“A lot of people here like to ride their bike to work but you can’t do that very safely if there aren’t trails. We’ve opened up a significant number of trails. We’ve connected trails and we believe that will take a little bit of pressure off.”