A former councilwoman and two political newcomers are vying for the seat held by Urban County Councilman Jay McChord, who is not seeking re-election Tuesday in Lexington's 9th District.
Realtor Jennifer Mossotti, who represented the south Lexington district from 1997 to 2004, is running against sales executive Bill Polyniak and Connie Kell, who formerly worked for the state and the city as an auditor. The top two vote-getters will compete in the November general election.
The district encompasses Shillito Park, one of the city's largest, Lexington's only major indoor shopping mall and several suburban residential developments.
A long-awaited widening of Clays Mill Road is a major issue for many who live in the area. A section of the project, under discussion since the 1980s, has been started and will be completed this summer. The remaining portion in District 9 will be completed by 2013, city engineer Keith Lovan said.
All three candidates say they plan to focus on making sure the district has basic services: police and fire protection, paved streets and adequate sanitary sewers.
Mossotti's campaign holds a significant financial advantage over the other candidates, according to election finance records filed earlier this month. Mossotti had raised $8,855.00 and spent $3,987.21, according to the report.
Kell reported raising $750.00 and spending $660.35. Polyniak had not reported raising any money.
Kell, 58, said she would work to bring about more efficiency and accountability in city government, as opposed to increasing taxes, restructuring the tax base or reducing services.
If elected, she said, her priorities would include making sure that neighborhoods are attractive, "safe, sound and vibrant," and that they meet the needs of families and elderly residents.
She also pledged to make sure that business property owners and leasing-company officials find quality tenants and maintain their grounds and parking lots.
Kell has several ideas for increasing revenue in the city, which include obtaining more federal and state grants and updating the city's computer system. She said she would work to improve collection of unpaid taxes from out-of-state entities doing business in Lexington.
As a councilwoman, Mossotti, 57, said, she pushed for developers to improve water management in neighborhoods and increase green space and parkland. She also touted her efforts to secure funding for the widening of Clays Mill Road.
She left office in 2004 to care for her mother.
In 2011, she resigned as the liaison between Mayor Jim Gray's office and the Urban County Council. Mossotti said she had no conflict with Gray.
"I believe I'm more effective on the legislative side than the administrative side," she said.
If elected, Mossotti said, she would encourage neighborhood associations to be more proactive, and she would continue to work to improve basic services.
She also plans to call for better long-range planning in Lexington's budget process. Instead of depending so heavily on a payroll tax, she said, "we need to examine all our streams of revenue."
Mossotti is a board member of the Kentucky Domestic Violence Program.
Bill Polyniak, 41, said he has spent countless hours reviewing several years of city budgets. If the city does not start reining in its debt, which he said is about $530 million, "nothing else will matter."
He said the city now spends 12 percent of its annual budget, or $32 million, just to make payments on its debt.
Polyniak said Lexingtonians cannot afford new taxes. Instead, the city must "stop the waste and privatize services where we can privatize them and focus on new business for revenue generation."
"When there is no more money, how are they going to maintain the parks? How are they going to maintain police and fire, and the important social programs that are valuable to our most needy residents?" Polyniak asked.