Herald-Leader Editorial

Consider these five strong choices for council at-large

May 7, 2014 

A crowded field is running to represent all of Lexington/Fayette County's citizens in a council-at-large spot on the Urban County Council.

Primary voters will choose six of the 13 candidates to advance to the fall election, where three will be chosen to serve on the council for a four-year term.

The council-at-large candidate who earns the most votes in the fall will serve as vice mayor.

We recommend five candidates to advance, including the one incumbent council member-at-large in the race, Steve Kay. The other two incumbents are vice-mayor Linda Gorton, who is not seeking re-election, and Chuck Ellinger Jr, who has reached his term limit.

The other four endorsed candidates are Kevin Stinnett, Richard Moloney, Bill Cegelka and Ray Debolt.

Of those, three have experience on the council: Stinnett is completing his fifth two-year term representing the 6th District; Moloney represented the 11th District for many years; Cegelka represented the 7th District from 2002 to 2006.

During his first term on the council, Kay has demonstrated a willingness to take on important and difficult work, including serving as chair of the commission on homelessness and shepherding through the city's initial efforts at establishing an affordable housing program and the related effort to address the complex issues surrounding our homeless population.

Before earning a spot on council he served on the board of LexTran and as a member of the planning commission, including a term as vice-chair as well as in leadership positions in a number of neighborhood and community organizations. Clearly his work on council has been informed by this broad and deep experience in the community. He has earned another term at-large.

Stinnett, a financial services professional, has ably represented his district, working particularly effectively to address a host of storm water and sanitary sewer issues that have plagued parts of the district and the community.

Before Lexington was committed to sewer and stormwater improvements under a consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency, Stinnett took on the effort to find a funding source to underwrite countywide improvements.

Stinnett has also been the most effective fundraiser in this group. According to the most recent report he has brought in $58,936 so far this election cycle, far outdistancing Kay in second with $29,716. Stinnett gained a spot on the council a decade ago in part through his opposition to city ownership of the water company.

Allies in the water debate accounted for a large portion of his campaign finance success in that era. We did not endorse him in his initial race but did two years later, writing that he had, "worked hard, learned a lot, shown admirable independence and an ability to work in a collegial fashion with the entire council."

Moloney, too, has a long history as a district representative on the council, although he hasn't served for several years. He returned to city government in 2011 to work in the administration of Mayor Jim Gray, leaving last year to run unsuccessfully in the special election for a state Senate seat.

Throughout his various roles in local government, Moloney has demonstrated a passion for addressing the needs of people who are often overlooked. He has long advocated for affordable housing and, like Stinnett, has fought to address long-underfunded infrastructure issues. He has a deep understanding of how to make the gears of government turn for the advantage of residents.

Cegelka served on the council for four years before running unsuccessfully for Fayette County attorney. He and his family moved to California for a few years but returned to Lexington in 2010. In his meeting with the editorial board, Cegelka demonstrated an understanding of the issues and opportunities facing the community and insight into how to address them. He would be an asset to the council.

The only potential newcomer to the council — although not to city government — on our list is Ray DeBolt. DeBolt worked as a Lexington policeman for 15 years before leaving the force to attend law school.

As an attorney he worked in public offices at the county and state level before retiring last year. He has also been active in his neighborhood association. DeBolt's wide experience and genuine interest in serving make him a strong candidate in this field.

Unendorsed candidates may submit a 250-word response by noon Monday.

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