Challengers in Lexington mayor race gear up for May primary

bmusgrave@herald-leader.comMarch 30, 2014 

Two challengers vying for Mayor Jim Gray's job are ramping up for the May 20 primary.

Anthany Beatty, an administrator at the University of Kentucky and a former Lexington police chief, announced last week that he had a campaign staff in place and would have a kick-off event April 15 at Embassy Suites in Lexington.

"We're really excited about the team we put together," Beatty said.

Longtime public relations professional Phil Osborne has been tapped as Beatty's campaign manager. Caitlin Wohlander has been named treasurer.

In addition, Beatty said Main Street Communications out of Miami Shores, Fla., and Razor Solutions out of Atlanta had been hired.

Beatty said he has had smaller fundraisers during the past few weeks but plans to ramp up his fundraising as the primary approaches. Beatty toyed for a year with the idea of running for mayor but did not declare and file his paperwork until the Jan. 28 deadline.

Beatty works full-time as vice president for campus services and public safety at UK. Organizing his campaign has had to take place in the evenings, he said. That's why it has taken so long to announce his campaign staff, he said.

Beatty said he would be focusing more on issues in coming weeks but declined to say what those issues were.

"We are going to be focusing on getting our message out," he said.

Danny Mayer, an associate English professor at Bluegrass Community and Technical College, also has assembled a team of advisers for his campaign. Mayer originally said he did not plan to raise more than $3,000, but on Friday he said he had decided that figure was arbitrary.

"We'll see on the fundraising expectations," Mayer said in an email. "I haven't solicited any money yet and won't until the website is up this Monday."

Mayer, a first-time candidate, is a former editor of North of Center. Members of his staff include Tyler Simonds, 20, a Lexington resident active in Young Workers Lexington who will be social media head and acting campaign coordinator.

Christian Torp will be a finance consultant. Mayer's website designer is Matt Garbett.

Laura Webb will be campaign design head, and Richard Knittel, a member of Move to Amend, is acting as public banking consultant.

Mayer is also using his Facebook page, Mayer for Mayor, to begin posting some of his platform, which includes raising the city minimum wage to $15 an hour, ramping up Lextran so it provides more mass transit options, axing tax increment financing for development, supporting an affordable housing trust fund and improving Lexington's food economy.

Mayer said he planed to add more "planks" to his platform in coming weeks. One of those planks will be his stance on marijuana.

The top two vote-getters in the May primary will be on the ballot for the general election in November.

Gray has the lead in terms of name recognition and fundraising. He has raised more than $285,000 for the race, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. The former CEO of Gray Construction also can self-fund his campaign. He contributed nearly $900,000 of his own money to his successful 2010 campaign.

Gray has earned high marks from many for righting the city's finances, pushing for reforms for the city's police and fire pension fund and fixing other long-festering problems.

But Gray has had a prickly relationship with the city's police and firefighters.

Robert Dible, Gray's campaign manager, declined to say how much Gray had raised since the last campaign filing deadline. "Since Jim filed for re-election in January, we've seen incredible enthusiasm and deep, broad support from the community," Dible said. "We're hard at work harnessing that enthusiasm and steadily building momentum toward November."

The next filing deadline for campaign finance reports is April 18.

Beth Musgrave: (859)231-3205. Twitter: @HLCityhall

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