Former Lexington police chief Anthany Beatty is considering running against incumbent Jim Gray next year to become Lexington's next mayor.
Beatty told the Herald-Leader he notified his supervisors at the University of Kentucky on Tuesday that he was considering candidacy. Beatty has been vice president of campus services at the university since he retired from the Lexington Division of Police in 2008.
Rumors have swirled for several weeks that Beatty, 61, was thinking about taking on Gray in the 2014 election. The former chief acknowledged those rumors in a phone interview Tuesday, saying he was weighing the pros and cons.
"It's still just in the exploratory stages, based on the input I've gotten from the community," he said. "A few folks wanted to support me in that."
Beatty said he would reveal more about the support he has received if and when he files a formal declaration.
As vice president of campus services at UK, Beatty makes about $128,754 a year, according to data released by the university. As mayor, Gray makes about $8,000 less than that annually, according to city employee salary data.
Beatty, the city's first black police chief, was the city's top cop from 2001 to 2008. He was appointed by Mayor Pam Miller. After retiring, he was replaced by current police chief Ronnie Bastin.
The Lexington native and his wife, Dr. Eunice Beatty, grew up in segregated housing in the city's Bluegrass Aspendale neighborhood in the 1950s. White and black housing was separated by a fence and a large gate that was locked at night. "The racial tone in the city was ... not healthy at that time," he said.
In his 32 years on the police force, Beatty held every rank in the department. When he retired as chief, he was praised for his level-headed style of leadership and his attention to detail.
Many city and police officials heaped praise on Beatty when he retired, including the man who could be his opponent next year.
"Chief Beatty set the high-water mark for ethically centered leadership," said Gray, who was vice-mayor at the time.
Gray, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, announced in November that he would seek a second term. No other candidates have announced intentions to run.
Former mayor Jim Newberry, who was defeated by Gray in the 2010 election, has said it was too early to decide whether he would run again.
Newberry also declined to say whether he was one of Beatty's supporters.
Several Urban County Council members said Tuesday they hadn't talked to Beatty or heard the rumors that he would run, but they did not seem surprised at the news. "It doesn't surprise me, being that he was chief of police and his name recognition," councilman George Myers said.
Beatty hasn't outlined a specific agenda. He said Tuesday that there are things he thinks the city could "do better."
"I deeply appreciate the members of the community who have come forward and expressed support for me considering running for the office of mayor," he said. "I think I owe it to them to at least consider, explore and do due diligence ... to make the decision of whether I should or should not run."
Josh Kegley: (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.