Four Candidates Discusse Future Of City Hall, Youth Initiatives

May 16, 2018

File Photo from Candidate Forum
Credit Stu Johnson

With the May primary election less than a week away, Lexington voters are considering seven candidates to lead the Urban County Government.  In this first of two reports, we’ll hear from four contenders in the mayor’s race.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray deciding to run for Congress opened the door wide for potential successors to his city hall post. 

In this report, we’ll explore two primary issues, the future home for Lexington government and how the urban county government could help young people succeed.

A number of developers have submitted proposals for constructing a new city hall, but it’s far from a done deal.  Former Police Chief Ronnie Bastin says he’s not committed to any approach yet. “Let’s see what the cost projections are and the lease payments on the new proposals, once they come in.  I’m not aware that they’re in yet.  To compare that with the maintenance costs of having to maintain the old building and upgrading it,” said Bastin.

Former Vice Mayor Linda Gorton, meanwhile, says there’s no doubt in her mind that a new city hall is needed, but admits the cost of such a project must be carefully evaluated. “However, that would be a major expense and the city tries to keep its debt level at 10 percent of revenues, so the question is could we afford it right now, I think that’s the big question,” said Gorton.

Former Lexington Mayor Teresa Issac says she’s gotten suggestions, but admits a new home for local government doesn’t top her agenda.

“I am still open to that right now.  Several people have talked to me about the Shriner’s Hospital as a possible location.  But, I would say right now it’s not high on my list of priorities,” noted Issac.

Issac is talking about the former home of Shriner’s Hospital off Richmond Road.

Current Council Member Kevin Stinnett is the only mayoral candidate to firmly say yes to building a new city hall. “We’re spending $3.1 on our current building.  We can build a new city hall for $2.1 million annual debt service, so we would save a million dollars a year just in maintenance cost alone,” explained Stinnett.

On the question of local government’s role in serving teenagers, Stinnett would like to see more coordination and early intervention.

“We need to bring all the organizations together that are actually mentoring youth or have an active role in supporting our young people.  We also need to partner with our school system and get to our kids at five and six years old before they enter kindergarten,” said Stinnett.

Former Mayor Issac says it is key to ask young people the kind of help they need. “They have very good ideas about what kind of programming they would like to see, what kind of job opportunities they would like to see.  What you want to do is make sure you are involving them in the decision making process,” said Issac.

Gorton, who has spent 16 years on the urban county council, including time as vice mayor, would like to see a closer relationship with Fayette County Schools. “The city should be partnering with the schools on summer internships for students.  Most teenagers would welcome a job,” commented Gorton.

After three decades in law enforcement, Ronnie Bastin says structure supports youth development. “So, we have to have good programming, structured activities, summer jobs, job training, so that we give our youth a good chance for success,” said Bastin.

 All the campaigning is winding down as Primary Election Day draws near. The top two vote getters next Tuesday will go on to compete in the fall election.