Two men vying to lead Lexington's Urban County Government made their final pleas to voters Tuesday night, exactly one week before the Nov. 4 general election.
Mayor Jim Gray, who is seeking a second term, told voters he fixed long-standing problems at city hall during his first term and was also able to make key investments, including about $500 million in public safety, $3 million for an affordable housing fund and $1 million for a local economic development fund.
"We are getting things done," Gray said during a debate sponsored by WUKY on the University of Kentucky campus. "I ask you to keep that momentum going."
Anthany Beatty, a former Lexington police chief and administrator at UK, told voters that Gray had made too many mistakes. Gray took his eye off of public safety, resulting in a jump in violence this summer and fall, Beatty said; he added that Gray also failed to get legislative and UK support this year for a renovation of Rupp Arena. Gray later halted the project.
"It's time for proven and new leadership," Beatty said.
The two men agreed on many things during Tuesday's debate: Both said alternative transportation, including more biking and walking, should be encouraged; both believe in climate change and want to see Lexington's carbon footprint reduced; and both said job opportunities and job training should be part of the city's crime-fighting strategy.
Beatty said relations between the university and the city were strained and needed to be improved after tensions over Rupp Arena became public in May. UK men's basketball is Rupp's most well-known tenant.
"The relationship between the Urban County Government and the university is fractured," Beatty said. Gray, however, said that one project did not define the relationship between the city and UK.
"We work with the university every day," Gray said. The two groups have to collaborate on everything from traffic flow to crowd management on UK game days, he said.
Gray became the most animated while answering a question about the city's current fight with Time Warner Cable. The city has stalled in approving the transfer of ownership of Time Warner to Comcast and of Comcast to Charter, the company that eventually will run Lexington's cable company. The city is negotiating with Time Warner company on its current franchise agreement. Gray has said the city won't approve the transfer of ownership until the cable company agrees to key customer service protections.
The city's job is to stand up for its citizens in these negotiations, he said.
"Nobody had been at the table representing our taxpayers," Gray said of previous negotiations involving the city's franchise agreements.
This is Beatty's first run for elected office. Gray was elected to the Urban County Council in 2006 and served as vice mayor for four years before ousting then-Mayor Jim Newberry in a tight race in 2010.
No independent polling has been released in the race. Gray is leading in cash, raising more than four times what Beatty raised during the past fundraising quarter. Gray reported raising $321,239 from May 21 through Oct. 3 and had $162,957 cash on hand. Beatty raised $76,491 and had$57,821 available.
Gray began running television ads in late September. On Tuesday, he started running a new ad on most cable and broadcast TV networks. Walker Mattox, Gray's campaign manager, said the ads would run through Election Day. Beatty released radio ads Tuesday. His camp said it was not clear whether he would run television ads.