Experience, fundraising and name recognition were factors Tuesday in the race for Lexington's Urban County Council-at-large seats.
The top vote-getter in November becomes Lexington's vice mayor. The first four finishers in the nonpartisan primary on Tuesday pulled away from the rest of the field and appear to be the top contenders for that vice mayor spot: Former council member Richard Moloney received 16,644 votes, or 15.3 percent of the vote; incumbent Steve Kay was close behind at 16,052, or 14.8 percent. Sixth District Council member Kevin Stinnett received 14,174 votes, or 13.1 percent, and former council member Bill Cegelka, 12,650, or 11.7 percent.
Those four advance to the November general election, along with pastor and business owner Chris Logan and Fayette County Judge-Executive Jon Larson.
The second and third-place finishers in the November election will become at-large council members and serve four-year terms.
Don Pratt, 69, a community activist who had run for council unsuccessfully four times, ran seventh Tuesday, just behind Larson.
Moloney, 54, has served as the city's public works commissioner and chief administrative officer and head of the state's building department. He said he had also served seven previous terms on the council from 1987 until about 2007.
"I'm tickled to death that the people voted for me today. I think it comes down to experience, and that's what I bring to the table," Moloney said Tuesday night.
This year's Urban County Council at-large race had one of the largest fields in recent years and also included Shannon Buzard, Ray DeBolt, Kenner "Pete" Dyer, Connie Kell, Jerry C. Moody, and Jacob Slaughter.
Fundraising for the race was led by Stinnett, who had raised $71,251.00 by May 5, according to reports with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. Kay had $42,215.47, Moloney raised $38,325.00 and Cegelka $30,850.00 records show.
Kay was the only at-large incumbent in the race after Vice Mayor Linda Gorton announced this year that she would not run for re-election. Chuck Ellinger II, another at-large council member, was term-limited from running again in the at-large race.
Kay said of his success on Tuesday night: "I think it's kind of a reflection of the work that I've done on council."
"People recognize that I've worked hard and that I've been effective, and the vote tally reflects that — and I think it will again in the fall," he said.
Stinnett, 40, was first elected to represent the 6th District in 2004.
"I want the voters of Fayette County to know that I am going to out-work everyone in the race this fall," Stinnett said in a statement Tuesday night. "I am the only candidate who has chaired the city's budget committee and understands the budget top to bottom."
"The real race starts tomorrow," he said.
Cegelka, 44, a small business owner, served two terms on the Urban County Council from 2002 to 2006. He said he moved to San Diego to care for his mother and returned to Lexington after her death.
"This is the closest council-at-large primary in recent history," Cegelka said Tuesday night. "Only three percentage points separate 1st from 4th place. Usually there's a big gap of 5 or more points somewhere near the top. Not this time."
Larson, 68, an attorney and county judge-executive, said he had ideas that are different from "the old boy rhetoric" and that "people know me, trust me."
Larson, who said he initiated the veteran's treatment court program in Lexington, said he will continue to push for veterans welfare and for regional planning.
The newcomer among the top vote getters was Chris Logan, 46, a business owner and pastor.
"I think we offer an opportunity for some fresh ideas and a new voice on council," Logan said Tuesday night. "We were able to knock on 10,000 doors in our community, I think people are looking for true conservatives to be a voice on council," he said.
Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 231-3409. Twitter: @vhspears