Herald-Leader Editorial

Akers, Stuart for Council District 2

May 6, 2014 

First-term District 2 council member Shevawn Akers has drawn a pair of able challengers in the May 20 primary.

Michael Stuart — who owns and operates Fayette Window Cleaning, a small business he started when he was 21 — has served on the board and as president of the Living Arts & Science Center and currently serves on the LexArts board.

Byron Costner, a performance auditor in the state auditor's office, has held a number of administrative and policy jobs in state government and higher education. Costner's diverse experience in government would be an asset.

But Stuart's community experience and stronger grasp of the challenges confronting the district and city give him a solid edge over the other challenger.

Akers, a social worker who manages community engagement for Volunteers of America in Lexington, has earned a shot at re-election.

Probably her most notable accomplishment was breaking the stubborn impasse on food trucks. She pushed through a successful pilot program and ordinance that also expanded the areas where food trucks are allowed. Akers sees food trucks as economic development and is proud that some food trucks have spawned restaurants and vice versa, creating jobs.

Akers says she wants to stay focused on parks in the district and points to a finished playground and planned restrooms at Masterson Station Park and refurbished basketball courts at Highlands Park as accomplishments.

She also has advocated for city support for the Distillery District.

Stuart stresses the need for public infrastructure such as fire stations to keep up with the fast-developing district. He emphasizes job training and wants the city to reclaim federal funds from the Blue Grass Area Development District that had supported job-training in Lexington in the past. He's committed to building trails and making the city more walkable.

In terms of philosophy, Akers and Stuart are similar. Both pledge to support neighborhoods and keep constituents informed of developments that affect them such as the Leestown Road widening.

Both support creating an affordable housing trust fund; each would bring useful perspectives to the particulars of such a program.

They support Mayor Jim Gray's vision for an arts and entertainment district around a rebuilt Rupp Arena and convention center but want to be sure the financing plan is solid to protect taxpayers from being left on the hook for unexpected costs. They're committed to rejuvenating the Georgetown Street corridor.

District 2, which stretches from the western end of downtown to Spur Road and Interstate 75/64, is home to some of Lexington's oldest and newest neighborhoods and infrastructure, and presents lots of thorny challenges and rich opportunities.

We recommend that voters put Akers and Stuart on the November ballot. We urge Costner to stay involved in neighborhood and city concerns.

The unendorsed candidate may submit a 250-word response by noon Thursday.

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